Canada 2006 Census - Controversy

Controversy

Special interest groups criticised Statistics Canada over the design of questions, accuracy, and the future of the census data:

  • Question 6: Relationship. Couples in same-sex marriages were offended by and/or objected to Statistics Canada's instruction that they use the write-in field "Other" instead of checking the "husband or wife" box.
  • Question 16: Mother tongue. An anonymous email misinformation campaign advised bilingual francophones to not mention their knowledge of English.
  • Question 53: Election to release census data after 92 years. Genealogists worried that future research will be hampered if Canadians didn't check this box.
Nationally, there was a yes response in respect of 55.58% of persons enumerated in the census. The yes percentage was highest in Prince Edward Island, 64.50%, and lowest in Nunavut, 51.39%. Individual respondents are permitted to change their response to this question by mailing in a request-for-change form.

In addition, Statistics Canada's online questionnaire had been criticized over accessibility issues:

  • Failure to comply with Treasury Board guidelines to meet W3C accessibility recommendations for the visually impaired.
  • Failure to support open source operating systems. Support for Linux was eventually added, but support for other operating systems was not.

The quality of data was further hampered by individuals who advocated minimal cooperation or non-cooperation, in protest to the outsourcing contract awarded to Lockheed Martin. Many people believed that Lockheed Martin would have access to their information, and that the US government could then access that information through the USA PATRIOT Act. However, despite assurances to the contrary (i.e., only Statistics Canada employees would and could handle, store, and access the information), some people refused to participate fully in the Census.

The release of data was postponed to numerous issues during enumeration. These included:

  • the recruitment of enumerators amid a competitive job market, particularly in Western Canada;
  • the requirement of some people to fill out a second form after their first forms did not arrive in the mail; and
  • delays in payments to enumerators.

As a result, the first release of data from the census, originally scheduled for release on February 13, 2007, was delayed to March 13, 2007.

Read more about this topic:  Canada 2006 Census

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