Is Scrapping the Mandatory Census Long Form Short Sighted?


September 9, 2010 :: Dr. Susan McDaniel and Dr. Heidi MacDonald
Moderated by Dustin Fuller

The Federal Governments decision to replace the 2011 Canadian mandatory Census long form with a voluntary “National Household Survey” has been a hotly debated issue since Canada’s minister of industry Tony Clement announced the change earlier this summer. Despite widespread criticism and weak public support for the change, it appears likely that the Harper Government will follow through on their controversial plan.

In the past, the mandatory Canadian Census has been held every five years with 80 percent of the households receiving the short form and 20 percent the long form. Under the new proposal, all households would receive the mandatory Census short form and one month later, one third of those would be asked to voluntarily complete the long form survey. The speakers will explain the importance of the Census long form information and evaluate the possible consequences of the voluntary vs. mandatory aspect of the proposed changes, regarding both near and long term.

Speakers: Susan McDaniel and Heidi MacDonald

Dr. Susan McDaniel is the Prentice Research Chair in Global Population and Economy, Director of the Prentice Institute and Sociology Professor at the University of Lethbridge. She relocated to Lethbridge in the summer of 2009 from the University of Utah where she was Professor and Senior Investigator in the Institute for Public & International Affairs. Dr. McDaniel is an internationally known sociologist/social demographer, the author of many books and research articles. She is a frequent advisor on social and science policies both in Canada and elsewhere. Dr. McDaniel also serves on the National Statistics Council of eminent Canadians which advises the federal government on data collection/analysis. She has advised on the Census for almost two decades.

Dr. Heidi MacDonald has served as a History Professor at the University of Lethbridge since 1999 and was Chair of the History Department from 2004-09. She is currently a member of the University of Lethbridge Board of Governors. Dr. MacDonald received her PhD in History from the University of New Brunswick in 2000. She studies and teaches Canadian history and is currently working on a book on coming of age during the Great Depression in Canada. Over her career, she has been a frequent user of the Census of Canada both in her own research and in teaching undergraduate and graduate students.


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