Canada’s bishops in favour of mandatory long-form census

  • August 5, 2010
2011 censusOTTAWA - Canada’s Catholic bishops have joined the chorus urging the federal government to reconsider its plan to abolish the mandatory long-form census.

“A great deal of this information, based on data gathered by Statistics Canada, is most helpful to all faith groups,” said Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) president Bishop Pierre Morissette in a letter to Industry Minister Tony Clement.

Morissette challenged the government’s assertion the mandatory long form is intrusive, noting the surveys are anonymous. He wrote that “in order to build a more harmonious society, it is in our government’s best interest to inquire into these areas.”

“It seems reasonable to ask these questions so as to better meet the needs of Canadians,” the CCCB president wrote. “No aspect of Canadians’ lifestyles should be neglected in the effort to strengthen our nation’s identity.”

The CCCB president pointed out how the bishops rely on the census data to “gain knowledge of the demographics and identify the geographic areas where our services are required.”

“From an ecumenical and inter-faith perspective, for all religions, this information is vital,” Morissette wrote.

The Catholic Civil Rights League also favours keeping at least portions of the long-form census mandatory, especially questions about religious affiliation that will now be dropped in the 2011 census. The mandatory long form will be replaced by a voluntary National Household Survey that statisticians have argued will not provide a true random sample.

“Information about religious affiliation and religious practice are helpful to many Canadians in their understanding of society and, more specifically for some faith groups, in planning for the needs of their community,” said league executive director Joanne McGarry. “Such information is also extremely useful for historians and sociologists, both now and in the future, as well as to Canadians researching their own family histories.”

McGarry said she hopes a compromise can be reached for a shorter mandatory questionnaire.

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