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Elimination of Long-Form Census Questionnaire seen as Short Sighted

July 25th, 2010

The Harper government’s decision to eliminate the long-form census questionnaire to be replaced by a voluntary survey that will ultimately cost more than the current system is seen as short sighted by Queer Ontario. For years, queers have been lobbying and working with Statistics Canada to include the gender and sexually diverse in their census and surveys.

Not only will this decision (taken without consultation) abrogate the collection of important data that serves the development and growth of Canada in its business, charitable/nonprofit and public sectors, but seriously disrupt the continuation of ongoing data analysis in longitudinal studies Statistics Canada undertakes.

Research experts across the country have already deemed the Tories’ proposed voluntary survey as statistically unreliable. Claims by the federal government that the mandatory imposition of the long-form census questionnaire intrudes on Canadians’ privacy and that they were advised to pursue their new proposal by Statistics Canada have been discredited by the high standards of confidentiality that StatsCan operates by and by the recent resignation of StatsCan’s head.

“What really lies behind such a short-sighted decision is less about protecting the privacy of Canadians, but more so about an ideologically driven agenda that would severely curtail evidence-based research substantiating the arguments of initiatives and populations the Tories are not interested in supporting,” says Nick Mulé, founder of Queer Ontario. He added, “Should they succeed at eliminating the long-form census questionnaire, they will have set the stage for a diminished Statistics Canada in which groups will no longer be able to rely on for evidence, thus weakening the latter’s advocacy and lobbying efforts.”

At stake for queers across the province and country:

  • Ongoing efforts to get sexual orientation and gender identity included in the Canada census and various Statistics Canada surveys
  • The ability to gather reliable data on queer identity, behaviour and issues from a voluntary sample
  • Strategies and discussions with Statistics Canada regarding how to include queers, if at all, in the new instrument
  • The opportunity to continue discussions with and education of Statistics Canada personnel regarding queer social issues, beyond legal issues in the face of this potential upheaval
  • The hope of one day having evidence-based data to advocate for policies, funding, programs and services that recognize and meet the needs of queers

Therefore, Queer Ontario calls on the federal government to not pursue a voluntary survey and to retain the long-form census questionnaire.

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