November 5th, 2014
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The Council for Canadian Urbanism Board of Directors sent this letter to the Hon. James Moore, Minister of Industry, supporting the reinstatement of the mandatory long form census and Bill C-626, An Act to amend the Statistics Act (appointment of Chief Statistician and long-form census).

Dear Minister Moore:

RE: REINSTATEMENT OF THE MANDATORY LONG-FORM CENSUS AND BILL C-626

The Council for Canadian Urbanism (CanU) is a national non-profit information and advocacy group incorporated in 2009, including many of Canada’s leading urban experts, from the fields of city planning, urban design, architecture, landscape architecture, development and related disciplines. Our Board of Directors is comprised of key public, private and academic sector leaders from major cities across Canada.

Our role is to actively promote better, more sustainable and healthy Canadian cities and urban areas, and to strengthen the role and ability of cities to address Canada’s critical urban and community challenges. We are writing to add our voice to the many respected professional experts and organizations that have called for the reinstatement of the mandatory long-form census. The consensus from all those experts who understand the value and proper methodology of the census is both clear, and remarkable.

We are deeply concerned that the voluntary survey that replaced the long-form census has cost more to execute and produced results that are unreliable and not comparable to previous years.

The private sector relies on census information for retail planning, investment and economic planning, real estate development, often basing investment decisions on census, and census-derived intelligence over time.

The mandatory long-form census questionnaire also provided regions, cities and communities across Canada with valuable and reliable information about the changing nature of the city and its neighbourhoods that is not available from any other source. It is not an exaggeration to say that this data was the single most important source of information, and the basis of most important decision-making in cities relating to land-use, community change management, services and infrastructure, transportation and transit, schooling and children’s services, services to marginalized populations including social housing, policing, recreation and other civic facilities, economic planning and development. Civic agencies do not have credible or affordable alternatives to the data provided by the census in the past.

We support the findings of statistical and survey experts that the changes significantly reduce the effectiveness of the work of cities in countless areas. A voluntary survey, despite its higher cost and larger mail-out, has resulted in poorer data quality, reduced ‘reach’ into vulnerable communities, and an inability to conduct trend-related analysis involving previous censuses. The validity of material produced from the voluntary survey selection bias has been compromised.

This change significantly affects all Canadian cities’ ability to make informed and well-considered decisions regarding the management of Canadian cities and communities, in ways that will significantly affect Canadians.

We strongly urge you to support changes similar to those proposed in Bill C-626, and follow the advice of experts within and outside of government to reinstate the mandatory long-form census in time for the 2016 census year.

With respect,

Council for Canadian Urbanism Board of Directors

 

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