The Liberal government has moved quickly to deliver on a major campaign commitment – restoring the long-form census.
“The vast majority of people understand the importance of this data and they want to participate in this process,” Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, said during a media conference on Thursday.
This was the first big move since Trudeau’s government took office, coming only one day after the Prime Minister and his cabinet were sworn in.
The long-form census was abandoned by the Conservative government in 2010.
Bains said that previous governments focused more on ideology while Trudeau’s Liberals plan on focusing on “sound, evidence-based” information.
Nelson Wiseman, University of Toronto professor and director of the Canadian studies program, said the data that will be used by more than just the federal government.
“Municipalities and provinces use it for planning purposes. One of the problems we’ve had getting rid of it is a lot of municipalities don’t have reliable data because it’s not compulsory to respond to the short-form or the household survey,” Wiseman said.
“What was surprising was I didn’t really see anybody in the country calling for eliminating the long-form census. I was always puzzled, and still am, why the Conservatives undertook that,” Wiseman said. “I mean oodles of scientists and others appealed for the government not to get rid of it and it cost them all kinds of headaches politically,”
Bains was asked about possible penalties for not completing the new census forms. He said education on the new measure will be important.
“If you speak to Canadians and get them engaged in the process, they’ll fill out the information and that’s what we’re focusing on,” Bains said.
The new long-form census will be mailed out in May.