2011 Long-form census questionnaire should be mandatory

Québec, September 16, 2010 – The Institut de la statistique du Québec maintains that the 2011 long-form population census should be mandatory and that all efforts must be made to ensure the 2011 response rate is as high as in the 2006 census.

This is necessary to guarantee quality information providing appropriate support for the decision making of various actors in Québec society and research. Moreover, Canada’s chief statistician, on resigning on July 21, 2010, emphasized that a voluntary survey cannot replace a mandatory census.

The federal government’s decision (made public on June 26, 2010) to replace the mandatory long-form 2011 census questionnaire with a voluntary survey does not take the advice of the key relevant authorities in the field or users’ needs into account. This decision will cause a significant drop in the quality of available statistical information (reliability, comparability and coherence), a decrease which is highly likely to bring about major additional costs for different levels of government.

Such costs would be generated by the necessity of having to carry out data analyses (to validate data) and conduct additional surveys (to compensate for lack of data). Other costs could also result from decisions not achieving the objectives sought in terms of services to the population since incurred based on data of insufficient quality.

The quality of statistical information is crucial given the billions of dollars taken from public funds for various public programs or policies. Consequently, the 2011 long-form questionnaire should be mandatory even if it means deferring the date of the census.

Lastly, the Institut is proposing that a consultation mechanism be promptly put in place to gather recommendations for the 2016 census. This consultation, which would be conducted independently by Statistics Canada, would make it possible to analyze the world’s best census practices and take into account the concerns of all census data users and those of the federal government. The Institut de la statistique du Québec, in the capacity of statistical coordinator for Québec, is ready to do its part.

The Institut de la statistique du Québec produces, analyses and disseminates official, objective and quality statistical information on various aspects of Québec society. It is the statistical coordinator for Québec and the relevance of its work makes it a strategic ally for decision makers and all those wishing to learn more about Québec.


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