Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Census Day in Canada!

Today, May 10th, is Census Day in Canada! All Canadians are asked to complete a census form that asks for the basic census information we have typically found in past census records like name, gender, relationship to 'head' of the household, marital status, and language. Completing the census, which can be completed online or on paper, is voluntary.

Last year, in July, I wrote about the error in judgement being made by the federal government in a) making the census voluntary and, b) providing respondents with the option of not allowing their information to become public after the elapsed statutory period of 92 years.

According to most dictionaries a census is an enumeration of the population, in this case Canada's population, at a point in time. I not certain that if I voluntarily choose not to complete the census tomorrow, Canada's population is really enumerated. I'm certain that statisticians can use mathematical formulae that I may not fully understand to derive the country's population but I struggle with the concept that it equates to an enumeration.

As for the election that I can make to not let my information be made public in 92 years, to address any privacy issues and concerns that I may have, seriously? I have no real prospects of being alive to worry about the disclosure of the information the census asks of me. I don't know what would be so scandalous for the public to find out that I have an address, I'm married, and I speak English. I think all of my family, friends and co-workers already know that information and didn't need to wait 92 years to get it. I can even figure out this level of information for Stephen Harper, the Canadian Prime Minister who is married with two children, is employed (the result of the recent Canadian federal election), and lives at the Prime Minister's residence (24 Sussex Drive) in Ottawa, Ontario. I didn't need Wikipedia, which goes a step further and even provides his date of birth, to figure this out.

Statistics Canada, the arm of the federal government in Canada that is responsible for the census hopes to have one in three households complete a "long form" of the census that will ask for additional information. It has always been my view that all households should have received the long form and should be required to complete it.

I have completed my census return (I chose to complete it online), I elected to make the information I submitted publicly accessible in 92 years and I asked to receive a long form. If one of my descendants wants to further research their family history, and all the research I am currently doing is mysteriously lost, I ought to try to help where I can. All Canadians get the chance to do the same today!

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