7. July 2010 10:53
On June 26th the federal government announced that the way the 2011 Census was going to be conducted would change. Information previously gathered from a 20 % sample of Canadians, the mandatory long-form, would now be collected through a voluntary national household survey that would be sent to 30 % of households. Organizations and citizens across rural Ontario have reason to be concerned that reliable, accurate data about their communities will no longer be available. Only some people will fill in a voluntary form, making for spotty and unreliable samples.
Why should this change be of concern to people and organizations in rural Ontario? Is this a minor concern for only academics and statisticians? No. The proposed voluntary approach could have significant potential negative impact for many types of organizations. The long-form data gave us the most reliable information we could get for tracking social and economic conditions and trends in rural and small town Ontario. Without it we will be hard-pressed to be guided by facts when identifying and addressing challenges. How will we be able to compare changes over time and understand if people’s circumstances are improving or worsening if we can’t go back and compare consistent information? How would we know if programs should be directed to one particular “hot spot” or instead that all places were experiencing a similar situation if we can’t compare? Business organizations too have been sounding the alarm since they rely on solid demographic data to make marketing and location decisions.
Over the years the Rural Ontario Institute’s (ROI) predecessor organizations have organized forums on issues such as access to health care, education, immigration, poverty, broadband access, economic development and the like. We think it is vital that all stakeholders and especially local government and responsible agencies at the regional and provincial level are all well informed as they plan and respond to social and economic conditions in the communities they serve. The private sector, the public sector and non-profit agencies alike require a sound understanding of changes in our communities and the challenges or opportunities those present if they are to be effective and efficient.
The ROI encourages subscribers and rural leaders with an interest in reliable information about the well-being of our communities to inform themselves about the changes and communicate directly with their federal MPs and the Honourable Tony Clement the Industry Minister responsible for Statistics Canada.
Another way to make a statement about this is through the following survey:
Also, be sure to check out the Association of the Municipalities of Ontario's (AMO) website for more information.
Norman Ragetlie, Director, Policy and Stakeholder Engagement