Keep long-form census, scrap threat of jail: National Statistics Council

Panel says scrapping long-form census would leave “serious gap” in knowledge

The independent body that advises Statistics Canada has suggested a compromise to end the war between the Conservatives and statisticians over plans to scrap the mandatory long-form census. The National Statistics Council, made of 40 prominent analysts and researchers, released a statement Monday saying that plans to switch to the voluntary National Household Survey in 2011 would leave a “serious gap” in knowledge about Canadian society. They want 20% of households to receive the long-form in 2011 with a
guarantee that privacy concerns be addressed in time for the next census in 2016. The council agrees with the government that Canadians “should not be overburdened by intrusive demands for unnecessary information” and says confidentiality concerns could be dealt with through changes to the Statistics Act. The Council recommends removing the threat of jail time for those who refuse to participate in the long-form census, while introducing prison terms for those who willfully breach the confidentiality of census information.

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