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MPs will be debating Bill C-626 which proposes amending the Statistics Act this Friday November 7 to:

Reinstate the long-form census and expand the authority of the Chief Statistician of Canada.

The first reading of the text of An Act to Amend the Statistics Act / Projet de Loi C-626 Prèmiere Lecture was done on Sept. 22, 2014.

It was tabled by Ted Hsu, Liberal Member of Parliament for Kingston.

Here are some resources:

  1. Fortunately, Evidence for Democracy has taken this on as a campaign, and the
  2. Save The Census folks are also keeping us up to date on this issue with their Facebook page.
  3. Ted Hsu also has some excellent information resources in the Bill C-626 Blog
  4. the Datalibre.ca blog has a number of resources, which you can search
  5. The Civicaccess.ca list also keeps an archives of all of its posts, and you can search find excellent resources there as well.
  6. OpenParliament.ca has the essentials about the Bill
  7. Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) – All the latest on the census long-form debacle

Some recent articles:


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The CivicAccess list from time to time has some really good discussions.  As of late there have been a couple of great ones.  They are honest and often bring up issues that require some external expertise.

The question of race questions in the former long-form Canadian census was the latest.  It was inspired by comments associated with the NYTimes map – Mapping America: Every City, Every Block posted to the list.  The list threads on this topic can be read here.

Debra Thompson was invited to read the threads and to respond.  Debra wrote The Politics of the Census: Lessons from Abroad in the Journal of Canadian Public Policy as a response to the recent cuts to the Canadian census and won the McMenemy Prize for her paper in the Canadian Journal of Political Science: Is Race Political?

Here is Debra’s Response:

That type of argument (race is dangerous, we shouldn’t be asking a question on it anyway) is actually pretty common – and came up back in 1996 when the question was  first put on the census. Unsurprisingly, it’s more often the white majority that claims race is dangerous, rather than racial minorities who largely understand that race is socially constructed, but carries consequences nonetheless. The basic fact of the matter is that we have a range of policies that depend on accurate census data. Yes, employment equity is one of those policies. Yes, it has its problems – especially in that it can’t account for variation in discrimination within the population we call “visible minority”. Some visible minorities are clearly discriminated against in a variety of socio-economic indicators – housing, employment, services, etc. Most often, these are Aboriginal peoples, Black Canadians and some Asian population groups. Other VM groups don’t necessarily need the policy in order to ensure their labour force representation is equitable. But can you imagine a Black-only or Aboriginal-only employment equity policy? It just wouldn’t fly.

The debates over whether or not a question *should* be in the census is more often than not a debate about the efficiency and equity of affirmative action-type policies. In my opinion, these debates are very important, but should take place elsewhere. I personally think employment equity is a good idea. It means the state has a positive obligation to promote racial equality. We know that the marketplace won’t do this on its own. It also sends important signals about citizenship and social justice as important priorities for the Canadian state. I would also tell critics that our employment equity policy is actually very very weak. VERY weak. It has little by way of actual monitoring, the courts have rarely backed it up, and it doesn’t compel the private sector at all. If our policy was stronger, we would have seen more VMs in the public service by now. Yet, if you look at the data, women have almost achieved representative parity, and VMs are still very much underrepresented – not nearly as badly as persons with disabilities, but still.

No matter the pros and cons of this legislation, it’s the law of the land. And we can’t make this law work properly without accurate data. In the 1980s before there was a “race question”, StatsCan used the ethnic origin question and other proxies to determine which respondents were VMs. But it was highly problematic – think about my father’s family, for example. We came to Canada in the 1860s, via the Underground Railroad. We’ve been here for a very long time. (This is why I find it so frustrating when white Canadians ask me, “no, where are you REALLY from?” I’m from HERE.) In response to the ethnic origin question, what would Dad write? “Black” is a racial group, not an ethnic group. But to put “Canadian,” “American,” or “British,” as Dad might have done, wouldn’t capture the fact that he’s black. StatsCan also had the same types of problems with other groups – Jamaicans and Indians (from India) who put their ethnic origins as “British,” Haitians who put theirs as “French”. If you want to measure race, you need a question on race.

Canada is also not alone in this regard. Over 60% of countries in the world have a question on nationality/ethnicity/race, though they use diverse conceptualizations of what these terms mean. It’s also been proven time and time again by places like the United States and Great Britain that having a question on race in the census is actually helpful if the society’s ultimate goal is racial equality. Canada has had this question on its census since 1996. And we’re not more divided than before, race riots haven’t broken out (though there are some places in Canada where racial minorities are living so far below the poverty line that I wouldn’t be surprised if they did), and our kitten-hugging version of multiculturalism – high on rhetoric, low on actual results in terms of lessing racial disadvantage – is still intact. So, you see, having a question on race isn’t about making Canadian society more divided. It’s about making it more equal. I think that’s a pretty important goal.

Peggy and John are keeping up the good work on the Save the Census Campaign and here is their latest update:

The census in the news:

Save the Census’ is on Facebook and Twitter @savethecensus:

Join our new Facebook page and Twitter page, where you can find the most up-to-date information from the Campaign, including media coverage and any other important correspondence.  Please circulate to friends and other supporters!

Continuing our battle takes—surprise—money! If you would like to donate to the Save the Census campaign please visit www.SavetheCensus.ca.

Find out more at www.savethecensus.ca, datalibre.ca, and www.ccsd.ca. For more information or to get actively involved with the campaign email us at info@savethecensus.ca.

This was a message posted on Civicaccess.ca list (also see archive for other great resources) in response to a blog post written by David Eaves.

The Civicaccess.ca list, from whence this blog is inspired, was founded on the discussion of making StatCan data free along with freeing Canada Post Data back in 2005 among many other access to public data Issues. Some on the list have been working toward that goal ever since. The number quoted by David in his article is very low and only reflect a portion of the revenue cost recovered by StatCan. Revenue generated by the sale of the Census alone since 1996 has been over $10 000 000. My ATIP requests

Statistics Canada, 2010, ATIP Request A-2010-00067, Census Revenue Notes, June 29. Indicates that

StatCan recovered $13,642,959 from the 2001 Census

The cycle for 2006 is not yet complete and therefore I do not have those figures. The figure above includes license fees, the sale of standard products, Custom Products, CD Rom fees, and Geography products. For instance the Community Data Consortium alone purchases about $700 000 worth of Census data for each cycle.

David does rightly make the point that revenue figures do not reflect the overhead cost of managing those resources and collecting them.

The cost of the census for 2001 was $432,033,300 or $14.40 per person according to ATIP request A-2010-00068. The cost recovered reflects 3.16% of the actual cost of the Census. Again, we do not know the overhead cost of recovering those moneys.

Most of StatCan’s special surveys are cost recovery projects, often cost shared between federal departments. Which means we also pay for those. Many surveys on topics related to Canada’s most vulnerable were discontinued, the LF Census was canceled and we expect to see more cuts coming down the pipes. It is true, that StatCan uses the revenue generated to fund other surveys.

The real problem however is not with StatCan but with the Treasury Board and Cabinet. There was a submission to Cabinet under the current government regime, offering cost savings by StatCan in order to cover the cost of making the Census Free. The Tory government accepted the proposed cost savings and refused to allow the giving of census data back to Canadians. If the Treasury were to actually adequately fund Statistics Canada then it would be able to give the data back to us. I am still trying to dig up the paper trail on the submission, but alas, memoranda to cabinet are confidential in Canada.

Bref, political pressure needs to be on the current government and also the Treasury. StatCan has little power over its budget beyond the usual mechanics, especially these days. We also need to keep in mind, that we have already lost disability surveys, and we have lost the ability to track the country’s immigrant, ethno cultural visible minorities, the poor, linguistic groups, people with mobility issues because the Census was just Cancelled (read more about lost surveys). More cuts to StatCan will not be about helping those groups and us advocating the abolition of cost recovery and not advocating to cover the revenue lost to StatCan by the Treasury will make us complicit in further marginalizing those groups. We need to lobby for more resources to StatCan to cover the loss of cost recovered funds, and of course to return the Long Form Census and we also need to ensure that it is autonomous from political interference as recommended by National Statistical Council of Canada. (more details available here).

I have not published my ATIP requests yet as I am still trying to validate a few pieces and do the analysis. It is also part of my PHD dissertation and at some point I need to publish officially.

From the wonderful folks at the Save the Census Campaign

(I particularly giggled at the Stevie Cutie one, what would Ertha Kitt say!)

Reinstate the Long Form Census
to the tune of “Deck the Halls”

Reinstate the Long Form Census,
Fa la la la la la la la
Its demise is really senseless,
Fa la la la la la la la
Give us back this vital data
Fa la la la la la la la
Bring it back right now, not later.
Fa la la la la la la la.

Hear the raging statisticians
Fa la la la la la la la
Stating all our hopes and wishes
Fa la la la la la la la
Many groups across our nation
Fa la la la la la la la
Join to stop this devastation
Fa la la la la la la la

Those from lower social classes
Fa la la la la la la la
Fear the new one will bypass us
Fa la la la la la la la
Sing we now in protestation
Fa la la la la la la la
Speaking out to save our nation
Fa la la la la la la la!

Hark the Statisticians Sing
to the tune of ‘Hark the Herald Angels Sing’

Hark the Statisticians sing
Give us back that census thing
Don’t destroy the data source
That we use to chart our course.

Joyful if it is returned
From its data much we’ve learned
It has been around since when
Christ was born in Bethlehem.

Hark the Statisticians sing
Don’t listen to the far right wing!

Many want it now restored
Province, village, town and Board
Rural, urban, poor and rich,
Think to lose it is a shame

Cancelled almost secretly
For no reason clear to see
Many mourn this tragic loss
Blaming Harper – he’s the boss!

Hark, the statisticians sing
Please reinstate the Census thing!

Census Forms
to the tune of ‘Jingle Bells’

Filling out the form
On a long form census day
Takes ‘bout half an hour
Glad to have my say

Don’t find it intrudes
Isn’t worth the fuss
The information it provides
Benefits all of us

Census forms, census forms
Glad to have my say!
It’s a thing we really need
Bring back our census day!

Census forms, census forms
Glad to have our say
It’s a part of Canada
Please don’t take it away!

Need the whole long form
More than a survey
Counts us every one
No one goes astray
Things that we all need
The census helps us get
If we can just volunteer
Some needs will go unmet.

Census forms, census forms
Glad to have my say
It’s a part of Canada
Please don’t take it away!

Stevie Baby
to the tune of “Santa Baby”

Stevie Baby, just slip a census under the tree, for me.
Been an awful good count,
Stevie Baby, so make it mandatory again.

Stevie Baby, a data source that we know is true — like you!
We’ll wait till it returns,
Stevie baby, so make it mandatory again.

Though its now your nemesis
Think of all the fellas that it’s gonna miss
Next year could be twice as good,
If you’d restore the Census list!

Stevie baby
We want a count on which we can count — a fount.

Information we need, Stevie baby,
So make it mandatory again.

Stevie honey
One little thing we really need, indeed.
Data that we can mine, Stevie Baby,
So make it mandatory again.

Stevie cutie
Don’t think this is one little thing – we sing!
Sign your x on the line, Stevie cutie,
And make it mandatory again.

Please maintain this data source
With some gentle suasion, just to reinforce.
You don’t need to keep jail time
Make it just a minor crime!

Stevie baby
Won’t complete your “Household Survey” – no way!
It’s a failed substitute,
Stevie baby, so make it mandatory again.
Make it mandatory again
Tory, tonight!

We Need a Long Form Census
to the tune “We Need a Little Christmas” from ‘Mame’

Please stop this folly
Bring back the form before you hurt our nation more
Fill out the questions
We may be losing things we never missed before now

Cause we need the long form Census
Right this very minute
Joyous statisticians, data without limits

Yes we need the long form census
Right this very minute
Its cancellation caused a flurry
That Stephen Harper makes us worry

So climb off your high horse
Reverse the dumbest thing we’ve seen you do in years
Don’t be a fruitcake
It’s time you faced the facts, to public pressure please bow!

For we’ve grown a little smarter
Grown a little older
Grown a lot more vocal
Grown a whole lot bolder

And we need a lot more data
‘Bout every householder.
We need the long form census now!

Good King Censusless
to the tune of “Good King Wenceslas”

Good King Censusless looked out
On the cottage season.
With the sunshine all about
Warm and crisp and even.
Everyone was drinking beer
Feeling great elation.
How could he disrupt the cheer
breaking cross the nation?

“Mr Clement, good MP,
If you knowst it, telling,
Yonder voter, who is he
Tory ranks not swelling?”
“Sire, a man I once knew long
Loathed the census taking
If you could remove this wrong
You’d be nation-making.”

“Make it so”, he said at once
With no consultation,
“Though I may be thought a dunce
Causing consternation.”
Statistician would not toast
His part in this madness.
He would rather quit his post
Causing him much sadness.

Harper bellowed “What a fool!
Get that man to focus!
He should know that math’s not cool,
Stats are hocus pocus.”
Statistician stood his ground
In the public’s favour.
He said he was honour-bound;
People thought him braver.

“Bring me hatchets, bring me fire,
We shall burn his cabin!
He’s earned my unholy ire!
He won’t know what happened!”
Steve and Tony, off they trod,
Off they trod together
Feeling stormy, yet instead
Of the sunny weather.

Statistician’s cabin burned
To the ground next morning.
Steve and Tony have not learned,
Though this be a warning:
Cabin dwellers all be sure
Be you all accounted,
Those who cannot count the poor
Can’t themselves be counted.

Info shared by a fan of datalibre.ca who would like to remain anonymous.

Carolyn Bennett’s private member’s bill C-568 to make the mandatory long form census. er, mandatory again…. passed.

  • earlier release describing it:
  • the text of the actual bill, at first reading
  • the speeches of those debating it:
  • the portal for this Bill
  • also today, the Canadian Policy Alternative’s ARMINE YALNIZYAN had a piece on an economist arguing that the integrity of the inflation / Consumer Price Index might be at risk, now

via: ChanK@parl.gc.ca, Parti libérale du Canada

Pour diffusion immédiate
Le 8 décembre 2010

Le projet de loi libéral sur le recensement est adopté malgré le fait que les conservateurs aient voté contre

OTTAWA – Malgré le fait que le projet de loi libéral visant à sauver le formulaire détaillé de recensement obligatoire ait franchi l’étape de la deuxième lecture, les conservateurs de Harper ont voté contre à l’unanimité. Ces derniers continuent d’ignorer la volonté de la majorité des Canadiens qui n’ont cessé de lutter contre les attaques idéologiques portées contre le recensement, a déclaré aujourd’hui la députée libérale, Dre Carolyn Bennett.

« Aujourd’hui, chaque député conservateur devrait avoir honte de ses actes », a affirmé la Dre Bennett, dont le projet de loi d’initiative parlementaire vise à enchâsser dans la loi le formulaire détaillé sur le recensement obligatoire. Ce projet a été adopté en deuxième lecture aujourd’hui lors d’un vote à la Chambre des communes.

« La victoire d’aujourd’hui démontre clairement que la majorité des parlementaires soutiennent l’enchâssement du formulaire détaillé sur le recensement dans la loi ainsi que la préservation de l’intégrité des données nécessaires à l’élaboration efficace des politiques et à la prise de décisions reposant sur des données probantes. Seul ce gouvernement idéologique veut l’éliminer et dépenser 30 millions de dollars de plus provenant de l’argent des contribuables pour obtenir des renseignements moins fiables sur la base d’un questionnaire court non obligatoire. »

En votant contre le projet de loi d’initiative parlementaire de la Dre Bennett, les conservateurs continuent d’ignorer les appels des gouvernements provinciaux, territoriaux et municipaux, des économistes, des groupes communautaires, des associations médicales et des organisations religieuses qui utilisent les renseignements recueillis par l’entremise du recensement afin de prendre des décisions reposant sur des observations factuelles et qui aident les Canadiens dans leur vie quotidienne.

La semaine dernière, il a été confirmé que ce projet de loi ne nécessitera pas de recommandation royale pour poursuivre sa démarche parce que son adoption économisera en réalité 30 millions de dollars au gouvernement. Ceci signifie que le projet de loi n’exige pas que le gouvernement conservateur le soutienne pour qu’il devienne loi s’il celui-ci est adopté par la Chambre des communes et le Sénat.

La question est maintenant de savoir si Stephen Harper respectera la volonté de la chambre élue. Si l’on se fie aux événements passés, nous demeurons sceptiques. Mais nous n’abandonnerons pas. Ce qui est en jeu, c’est l’intégrité des statistiques officielles du Canada et l’élément essentiel de la prise de décisions d’ordre économique dans les salons et les salles de conférence de la nation.

« Ce projet de loi est important car si le recensement n’est pas rétabli, Stephen Harper pourra mettre en œuvre son ordre du jour idéologique et réduire d’importants programmes pour les Canadiens. Il ne s’intéresse pas aux renseignements précis sur des choses telles que les niveaux de chômage, le multiculturalisme ou le travail non-rémunéré, parce qu’il préfère réduire des programmes tels que l’assurance-emploi, les services d’intégration pour les immigrants et les programmes destinés aux aidants naturels. »

Grâce à l’initiative libérale pour un gouvernement ouvert, un futur gouvernement libéral demanderait à tous les ministères et organismes fédéraux afin qu’ils adoptent le principe par défaut du gouvernement ouvert quand il s’agit d’échanger les renseignements et de rendre gratuites les données statistiques canadiennes.


Renseignements :

Bureau de l’hon. Dre Carolyn Bennett, députée, 613- 995-9666

Via: ChanK@parl.gc.ca, Liberal Party of Canada
Liberal census bill passes – despite Harper Conservatives’ voting against it

OTTAWA – Although the Liberal bill to save the mandatory long-form census passed second reading today, the Harper Conservatives unanimously voted against it as they continue to ignore the will of the majority of Canadians who have been fighting against the government’s ideological attack on the census, Liberal MP Dr. Carolyn Bennett said today.

“Every single Conservative member should be ashamed by their actions today,” said Dr. Bennett, whose Private Member’s Bill to enshrine the mandatory long-form census in law passed at its second reading today during a vote in the House of Commons.

“Today’s victory clearly demonstrates that the majority of parliamentarians support enshrining the long-form census in law and preserving the integrity of the data needed for effective policy-making and evidence-based decisions. Only this ideological government wants to scrap it and spend $30 million more of taxpayers’ money to get less reliable information from a voluntary short form survey.”

By voting against Dr. Bennett’s Private Member’s Bill, the Conservatives continue to ignore calls from provincial, territorial and municipal governments, economists, community groups, medical associations, and religious organizations that use the information collected in the census to make fact-based decisions that help Canadians in their daily lives.

Last week, it was confirmed that this bill will not require a royal recommendation to proceed because its passage will actually save the government $30 million. This means the bill does not require the Conservative government to support it in order for it to become law if passed by the House of Commons and the Senate.

“The question now is: will Stephen Harper respect the will of the elected Chamber? Based on his track record, we’re skeptical. But we will not give up – what’s at stake is the integrity of Canada’s official statistics and the lifeblood of economic decision-making in the living rooms and boardrooms of the nation.

“This bill is important, because if the census is not reinstated, Stephen Harper will be able to implement his ideological agenda and cut important programs for Canadians. He doesn’t care about accurate information on things like unemployment levels, multiculturalism or unpaid work because he’d prefer to cut things like Employment Insurance, immigrant settlement services and programs that help family caregivers.”

Through the Liberal Open Government Initiative, a future Liberal government would direct all federal departments and agencies to adopt a default principle of open government when it comes to sharing information, and make all Statistics Canada data available free of charge.



Office of the Hon. Dr. Carolyn Bennett, MP, 613- 995-9666

Via: Save the Census Campaign

Save the Census Update:
Below you will find an update on a variety of issues, including: recent media coverage surrounding the campaign and the census; an update from Ottawa; a summary of our by-election campaigns in Vaughan and Dauphin-Swan River-Marquette, Manitoba; and progress on our Charter challenge.

Vaughan and Dauphin-Swan River-Marquette by-elections:
On November 29th a by-election was held in Manitoba and Ontario. Individual members of the campaign have registered as a “third party” advertiser with Elections Canada. In Dauphin-Swan River-Marquette, radio ads ran during the final week of the by-election, while in Vaughan, 15,000 leaflets were distributed to homes. In both ridings the message we sent to voters was to “vote for your right to be counted”.

Moving forward we are establishing a robust social media presence and building a riding-by-riding capacity to make sure that MP’s from every party, right across Canada, know that the Census is an important issue in their backyard.

From Parliament Hill

  • The Opposition have united in an effort to reinstate the Long Form Census and to ensure the independence and integrity of the Office of the Chief Statistician through two Private Members Bills. The first to be voted on in the House on Wednesday December 9th, a Liberal Private Members Bill to reinstate the Mandatory Long Form Census.
  • The second, an NDP Bill will be debated in the New Year.
  • Liberal Private Members Bill to be debated Wednesday December 9th. Link (1) (2)
  • If you can take a minute to email your Member of Parliament in support of this Bill it would be appreciated.
  • Both the HUMA and Status of Women Committees have held hearings on the impact of the loss of the Mandatory Long Form Census, minutes and evidence presented can be found at the following links.

Media Coverage:

December 5, 2010–Professors may need more funding after census changes
The elimination the mandatory long-form census has been in the media quite a bit over the past month. Listed below are some of the more recent news items that appeared over the past week that discuss the Conservative decision. The first article indicates what our campaign has been arguing since July—that data collection and analysis is going to be much more difficult for researchers to access. This article focuses on University educators:

— December 2, 2010–Federal Departments detailed potential census impact a year ago:
This article outlines that the necessary (census) data that is usually compiled for deciding EI eligibility, understanding program performance and efficiencies, and improving immigration and settlement are all at risk because of the Conservatives intentions to implement the National Household Survey:

Other articles about the census and our campaign:
The Ottawa Citizen: EU scolds Harper government for StatsCan controversy
The Tyee: Pro-census group applies pressure in federal byelections with radio ads, flyers
The Ottawa Citizen: All Canadians should be concerned
Canadian Press: Huge demand for mandatory long-form census data to aid minorities, women
Winnipeg Free Press: Group takes long-census fight to byelections
The Capital Works: Census change ignores women’s unpaid work, advocates say

Save the Census is on Facebook and Twitter:
We’ve started a new Facebook page as the “Keep the Long-Form Census” page reached its capacity leading to restrictions being put on our ability to communicate with members. By joining the Save the Census Facebook page, you can stay up-to-date on where we’re at, what the media is saying and any other important correspondence we may have to bring you. Please encourage your friends to join, as well: http://tinyurl.com/37stgh7

You can also follow us and receive important updates by following the Save the Census campaign on twitter:@savethecensus

Charter Challenge:
CCSD, the Canadian Council on Social Development, has joined with twelve other organizations to launch a legal challenge to protect Canadians’ “Right to be Counted.” Our Charter challenge has been accepted by the Courts, however we have not been given a date yet for our hearing. We will keep you informed of any progress on this piece.

Continuing our battle takes—surprise—money! If you would like to donate to the Save the Census campaign please visit our website by following this link: http://tiny.cc/mn57f

Find out more at www.savethecensus.cawww.datalibre.ca, and www.ccsd.ca. For more information or to get actively involved with the campaign email us at info@savethecensus.ca.

Thank you for taking the time to read this important update.

John Campey (Social Planning Toronto) and Peggy Taillon (Canadian Council on Social Development)

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