Thursday, July 29, 2010

Why the long census matters

Why the long census matters -

So let me see if I have this right...
The family history website,, sent out a statement saying contrary to government claims, Canadians are not troubled by privacy concerns, but

“are overwhelmingly in favour of access to the kind of information that could soon become obsolete.”

“The long form paints a really robust history of your ancestors’ lives,” says Karen Peterson, managing director of Genealogy buffs were fascinated learn that a great grandfather was a poet. “The how is a bit lost when limited to the short form.”

Census forms with personal data are available only after 92 years.

Canadians don't think that the census is intrusive, but even if it is, it allows people to learn about their ancestors 92 years after the fact. So basically this is collecting information for information's sake.

In the city of Toronto, the long form census provided intimate glimpses into neighbourhoods — each containing 200 to 400 households. It helped locate day cares, language programs for newcomers and aided marketers.

“Many marketers want to offer products and services targeted to new communities,” says Jan Kestle, president of Environics Analytics. The data on newcomers influences decisions on what kinds of food to stock on grocery shelves, or where to distribute flyers. “So people don’t feel they are getting useless mail. It’s tailored to the community.”

Helped cities locate day cares and language programs. Well here's a thought... If these communities want these programs, they would ask for them or find a way to get it done without government intervention. As for marketers, shouldn't they bear the costs of providing better service to their clients?

What this all comes down to (and these are just a couple concerns that the Star brought forward) is that too many people think that they are using the information to do good, but in reality are using the information to meddle. Cities can review or track their services and sales to find out the information the long form already does. School boards only need names and ages to find out where to place schools (oops, short form questions), and realistically, so do cities wanting to place services. There is nothing in the long form census that needs to be answered, and certainly not under penalty of fines and jail time.

And to those who are concerned that certain constituencies won't answer an intrusive, long survey voluntarily, I would point out one thing... It's YOUR job to explain why they should want to fill it out.

1 comment:

  1. Spot on! It's incredible to me that the argument is made that the long form census is so incredibly important but if that's the case, then who's fault is it for citizens not being interested in fillinng it out? If it's so important, some one should be able to convince me of such and if I remain unconvinced, I hardly think that's a failing on my part, rather it's a failing on the part of those who would be my jailers should I find their arguments to be unpersuasive.

    Just nonsensical!