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Data Shock : 2011 Census long form eliminated

Statistics Canada recently announced that the Census long form would not be a part of the 2011 census. It will be replaced by a voluntary survey, which cannot be counted on to produce reliable information.

In fact, the Census is how we gauge sample reliability for other surveys, so this change will cause potentially severe problems for the use of other national surveys as well.

This is a problem for academics, librarians, and really all Canadians who rely on census data. The Census long form is the source for data on our population’s education level, income, ethnic and religious makeup,  occupations, and other key characteristics. It is particularly important for assessing social justice issues.

As data librarian, I deal with dozens of requests every year for detailed information from the Census Long Form – social workers doing community assessments, business professors looking at factors predicting the success of startups, nurses, educators, sociologists and political scientists. Anyone who wants to recruit students, provide a service, start a business,  or get information about their community relies on Census data, whether they are aware of it or not.

The Canadian Association of Public Data Users has a site and blog with more information, including a list of suggested actions to take.

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