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Canada Government Privacy Stats Politics Science

Canada Reinstates Mandatory Census, To Delight of Social Scientists (sciencemag.org) 284

Eloking writes with news that the government of Liberal Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be reinstating the mandatory long-form census that the outgoing government had ended. Science reports: "The new Canadian government today announced it would restore the country's mandatory long-form census. 'Our plan for open and fair government starts today with restoring the long-form census,' said Navdeep Bains, minister of innovation, science and economic development, speaking in Ottawa alongside Jean-Yves Duclos, minister of families, children and social development. 'We're focused on good evidence-based policies.' Bains said that Statistics Canada would be able to meet the 2 May deadline to roll out the 2016 census, which is conducted every 5 years, and that there would be no additional costs to making it mandatory. He confirmed that residents who fail to fill out the census could face criminal prosecution, an issue that contributed to the decision by the Harper government to make the 2011 census voluntary."
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Canada Reinstates Mandatory Census, To Delight of Social Scientists

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  • name the gap (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    And may the gap in data go down in history as the "Stephen Harper knowledge gap"

  • by xxxJonBoyxxx ( 565205 ) on Friday November 06, 2015 @10:02AM (#50876311)

    A sample of the actual 61-question census can be found here:
    http://www23.statcan.gc.ca/imd... [statcan.gc.ca]

    It's 40 pages of fill in the square with nitpicky crap like "so what DID you do at your job as a COMPUTER EN-GINEER." That's 40 pages per person. No wonder Canadians hate it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Lunatic ( 15240 )

      It might help to think of government as something you buy.

      Over the course of 5 years I’ll end up paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for my government services during that time.

      Spending a few minutes every 5 years to ensure they know what my needs look like is a pretty small investment to ensure my “purchase” is working well.

      I’m sure filling out this census once every 5 years takes less time than you’ve spent on your last major electronics purchase (which I would guess was

    • by jiriw ( 444695 ) on Friday November 06, 2015 @11:32AM (#50876863) Homepage

      Ehmm RTFF much?... It's 40 pages to fill in per 5 persons (if more than 5 persons live on the same address, you have to call in for a supplemental form). Which would make it about 8 pages per person. Roughly half of the questions should be skipped for persons aged below 15 and most questions are either 'mark the box' or writing names or amounts. It's not like you have to write a 40 page essay.... Questions are about:

      -Inquiring the number of persons residential at the dwelling (the form gives detailed information about who to include and who not).
      -Some basic information about each of these persons (Name, DoB, sex, marital status and relationships).
      -Ethnic background of each person and language capabilities, detailed.
      -Level of education and the type and amount of labour performed by each person over 15. Includes voluntary and unpaid labour (like household chores).
      -The state and ownership situation of the dwelling the form is sent to.

      Oh, and there is a page for comments.

      Except for that last page, everything in the form seems to me to be very relevant for government decision making. At least, and I am generalizing here, if I'm well enough informed about what 'usual Canadians' consider proper government decision making. I'm Dutch, so I do not know the details, but I do read about what's going on in other countries than my own and that includes what populations usually expect from their governments.
      Then, again, I can understand why some questions on that form would be highly objectionable to 'usual U.S. Americans'. And I might be wrong but most comments I see here are not those of Canadians... The impression I usually get from the U.S. is that you don't like to let your government meddle in affairs like basic health care, integration of minorities, housing regulations, public welfare or anything that touches income (taxes, minimum wage). And that's what many questions in that census are about. So, I'm not surprised I see so many negative comments here...

      • >> you don't like to let your government meddle in affairs like (list)

        The basic reason we don't want the government to meddle in these things is that they never do a good job. Some examples from your list:

        >> basic health care

        The US Veterans care system, our largest national health care provider, is a horrible mess.

        >> integration of minorities

        The result of bussing and other government policies triggered a massive flight to the suburbs and created today's deadly urban ghettos.

        >> housi

        • by dskoll ( 99328 )

          The basic reason we don't want the government to meddle in these things is that they never do a good job. Some examples from your list:

          Maybe in the US. The Canadian health-care system, for all the complaints you hear, is actually pretty good. It was a major reason my sister moved here from the US. And all your other examples of things done badly in the US are not nearly as big a problem here in Canada.

          Could it be that the US system of government is completely dysfunctional, and the Canadian one isn'

          • >> Could it be that the US system of government is completely dysfunctional, and the Canadian one isn't?

            I could agree that is the case. (My original answer was in response to a Dutch citizen asking me about US government.)

            However, it will be a cold day in hell before the US models anything it does on Canada. Our entire model right now is prefaced on giving large contracts to the well-connected, and sprinkling just enough largess on the populace to ensure they keep mindlessly voting for the incumbent

    • by MacTO ( 1161105 )

      Yeah, it's a pain. It is also fairly limited in what it's asking for:
      - ancestry/language: mostly useful for immigration services and first nations
      - age/gender: mostly useful for projections on the workforce and social services
      - education: mostly useful for projections on the workforce and education
      - employment/income: again, useful data for economic planning

      While it is intrusive, it is by no means as intrusive as it can be. (If I recall correctly, StatsCan has much more in depth surveys. Anything that w

    • by citylivin ( 1250770 ) on Friday November 06, 2015 @01:43PM (#50878289)

      Uh canadians want it. That's why we turfed the conservatives. Anyone with any sort of science background, as well as pretty much all educated citizens do want the gathering of more information about the populace. Judging by trudeau's selection of ministers, he is doing a great job at putting people in power who are actually knowledgeable about what they are supposed to be the ministers of. I know good government is not something americans can comprehend, so i forgive you for your ignorance.

      Considering youre an american, you can stfu with what you think canadians want as you are obviously not a canadian and not informed on these issues. You are just going off half cocked with your american crap rhetoric. Save it for your own government which we can all agree is corrupt as shit. But hey you put them there, so you have only yourself to blame.

      Fix your own shit before commenting on other countries choices.

    • by Krokus ( 88121 )

      Not 40 pages per person. Only a small percentage of people receive the long-form version of the census. The rest of the population receives the regular, shorter version. Consider that I've lived in Canada for 50 years and have never received a long-form census. I'd happily fill it out if I got one. Canadians don't hate it.

      Harper has left Canada in a position where its data-collection is seriously crippled. I'm not talking about surveillance, I'm talking about data collection for scientific research, data co

  • by Stewie241 ( 1035724 ) on Friday November 06, 2015 @10:08AM (#50876341)

    I don't have particular objections to the long form census, especially as I doubt they will come after you if you don't fill out all the questions, or answer erroneously (although considering the data is used for planning though this wouldn't necessarily seem to be in ones best interest).

    However, it makes me worry that this is being presented as 'open and fair government'. I was really hoping Trudeau's campaign for 'real change' would include dropping the political blowing smoke up asses and not making every decision part of a heroic effort for 'open and fair government.'

  • Census value (Score:5, Insightful)

    by StrangeBrew ( 769203 ) on Friday November 06, 2015 @10:48AM (#50876565)
    Take your tinfoil hats off already. I work for a civic agency where my primary role is to provide the decision makers with the right data necessary to make informed decisions. We, along with many other branches that serve the community, were severely handcuffed when Harper removed the long form and made the short form voluntary. The data is often used to help identify where focus and resources are best placed so that the taxpayers we serve get the most bang for their buck. Believe it or not, many public servants do understand who pays the bills.
  • by Ngarrang ( 1023425 ) on Friday November 06, 2015 @10:53AM (#50876601) Journal

    The onerous nature of the questions lead to massive violations of privacy. NO citizen of any country should ever be compelled by force of law to reveal the private information of their lives. The government has ZERO right to know anything beyond the fact that I am alive and paying my taxes per the law. They don't need to know my skin color, my religion, what I do for a living, etc, etc.

    The information they want to gather will only lead to the further degradation of the privacy of the citizens.

    • by jiriw ( 444695 )

      How does it lead to the further degradation of the privacy of the citizens?

      Like how Goolge Ads lead to the further degradation of the privacy of the citizens?

      or

      Like how mass surveillance of the NSA (as explained by E. Snowden) lead to the further degradation of the privacy of the citizens?

      There is a difference, you know and I consider the former one much more benign than the latter. And a once in 5 year census, properly executed, orders of magnitudes less privacy invading than even Google Ads. I expect, fro

      • The NSA spying was bad, you won't see me defending it.

        Google Ads remembering that I was shopping for sexy panties for my wife and then seeing those ads while at work caused a bit of embarrassment. Yes, also a touch invasive.

        And they should both be stopped.

        I fail to see how pointing out other actions of evil justify a government mandating the turning over of such private information. Did I miss something in your rant?

        A government forcing you declare your religion, or if you own guns, etc is an invasion.

    • by Dr. Evil ( 3501 )

      "NO citizen of any country should ever be compelled by force of law to reveal the private information of their lives."

      Tell that to the line of cops who insisted on searching my bags and confiscating their contents at the G20.

  • by kbahey ( 102895 ) on Friday November 06, 2015 @12:15PM (#50877387) Homepage

    Just a backgrounder ...

    For the past 9+ years in Canada, we had a Conservative government (right wing ideologues).

    They wanted to eliminate inconvenient truths that are against their ideologies, so they started a war on data and a war on science.

    Here is a recent TV program explaining how despicable this is:

    War on Data [youtube.com]

    War on Science [youtube.com]

    The new liberal government promised evidence based policies. One thing they promised is to reinstate the long form census which the Conservatives axed on false premises back in 2010.

    So this is just undoing the damage done by right wingers ...

  • ...of Harper's government. He systematically crippled data-collection in Canada because facts and evidence don't play well with his ideological motives.

    To see just how depressingly bad things got under Harper, have a read of this report done by MacClean's: http://www.macleans.ca/news/ca... [macleans.ca]

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