ONTARIO-L ArchivesArchiver > ONTARIO > 2010-07 > 1280180232
From: Donald Partridge <>
Subject: [ONTARIO] Census of Canada 2011 - Some thoughts for discussion
Date: Mon, 26 Jul 2010 21:37:12 +0000
Dear fellow family Historians
Some thoughts for discussion on the Census of Canada 2011
You may have noted the Long-form -- Short -Form controversy in the popular press and subsequent resignation of the Chief Statistician over the mis-characterization of the options which Minister Clement allegedly said were presented by Statistics Canada. Minister Clement is the Minister of Industry who is the Minister responsible for Statistics Canada. In other words, he is the Minister through whom Statistics Canada reports to Parliament.
A word about the process. The wording of the approved Census qiestions is contained in an Order in Council which only contains the short form questions. In other words, the actual questions put to Canadians by Canada's "Independent Statistical Agency" are ultimately decided and approved by the Cabinet. Some independence.
The long form questions are not mentionned at all in the Order in Council which means that the Cabinet decided to do away with them in a compulsary form. They must have approved the process for the voluntary questions as part of the cabinet decision (which is confidential) because this is not contained in the Order in Council.
The shocking change from a family history point of view was that the short form contains a questions which I paraphrase as: Do you want your return to be made public after 92 years or do you want your return to be kept confidential in perpetuity? The lack of comprehensive public database will greatly diminish the utility of the Census as a useful data source in Family History Research. It is, in my view, a question which should never have been included in the Short Form.
I have not examined the Achieves Act which likely governs, or provides for the release of the data after 92 years. It might also be governed in the Statistics Act or the Census Act and it is possible that the Cabinet does not have the authority from Parliament to prevent the release of the data after 92 years. Of course, to the extent that the Parliamentary Opposition is not willing to trigger an election over this issue, the Government can rectify any legislative shortcoming and render the discussion moot.
I should also note that the short form question does not adequately capture an accurate, or a rich description of modern families where children spend, say 50% of this time in Father's household and 50% of their time in Mother's household. It just wants to know to know where the children were on an particular spring evening.
It also does not ask, even on a voluntary basis, if the respondent could provide the link and Statistics Canada could capture the data on the persons Facebook Profile. More than 50 of the population of Canada now has a Facebook page which often identifies some part of their family and other relationships.
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