It seems every summer some crazy political story surfaces that just makes you wonder what people are thinking and make us ask “why would anyone do that?”. This “summer of discontent” issue seems to be the debate about our Canadian Long form Census. What is most baffling about the debate is that the average Canadian seems to be totally unaware of how that information could be used, or be beneficial to community groups of all stripes with basic issues of program planning. Those of us who plan programs for community groups actually look for statistics and hard data to see what the trends are within our communities. Otherwise we are kind of in the dark, making decisions based on our own personal perceptions, which sometimes prove to be right, but many times can prove to be wrong. Demographic data from the Census is but one tool in the process those of us working behind the scenes use to determine what our communities need, what sort of new programs they might support. Without that data many of our community organizations would be running down some blind alleys always assuming what worked yesterday will work tomorrow..Our communities however are not static.
Both Imagine Canada and the Canadian Conference of the Arts have written to Industry Minister Tony Clement to express their concern about the Government of Canada’s decision to replace the mandatory long form census with a voluntary household survey. You can read Imagine Canada’s letter here and the Canadian Conference of the Arts’ letter here.