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  • Help us build a better Ontario September 14, 2017
    If you live in Ontario, you may have recently been selected to receive our 2017 grassroots poll on vital issues affecting the province. Your answers to these and other essential questions will help us decide what issues to focus on as we head towards the June 2018 election in Ontario. For decades, the CCPA has […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Does the Site C dam make economic sense for BC? August 31, 2017
    Today CCPC-BC senior economist Marc Lee submitted an analysis to the BC Utilities Commission in response to their consultation on the economics of the Site C dam. You can read it here. In short, the submission discussses how the economic case for Site C assumes that industrial demand for electricity—in particular for natural gas extraction […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Ontario's middle and working class families are losing ground August 15, 2017
    Ontario is becoming more polarized as middle and working class families see their share of the income pie shrinking while upper middle and rich families take home even more. New research from CCPA-Ontario Senior Economist Sheila Block reveals a staggering divide between two labour markets in the province: the top half of families continue to pile […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Join us in October for the CCPA-BC fundraising gala, featuring Senator Murray Sinclair August 14, 2017
    We are incredibly honoured to announce that Senator Murray Sinclair will address our 2017 Annual Gala as keynote speaker, on Thursday, October 19 in Vancouver. Tickets are now on sale. Will you join us? Senator Sinclair has served as chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), was the first Indigenous judge appointed in Manitoba, […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • How to make NAFTA sustainable, equitable July 19, 2017
    Global Affairs Canada is consulting Canadians on their priorities for, and concerns about, the planned renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). In CCPA’s submission to this process, Scott Sinclair, Stuart Trew and Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood point out how NAFTA has failed to live up to its promise with respect to job and productivity […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
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Strange Bedfellows Invite Clement to Work With Them Towards Census Solution

Today a truly surprising assembly of organizations – definitely not a coalition – made a group request for a meeting with the Minister who has been put in charge of executing the decision to ax the Census long-form questionnaire. Their objective? “We understand that the far-reaching impacts of this decision may not have been fully anticipated and we respectfully request the opportunity to help find a solution that meets the needs of all Canadians.”

Read on to see the full letter.

There is also an article in the online edition of the Hill Times about this request and the significance of the moment.

Stand by. This is what democracy looks like.

July 13, 2010

The Hon. Tony Clement
Minister of Industry
Industry Canada
C.D. Howe Building
235 Queen Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0H5

Dear Minister :

We are writing to request an opportunity to meet with you to discuss your Government’s recent decision to discontinue the Census long-form questionnaire and replace it with a new voluntary questionnaire, the National Household Survey.

We are greatly concerned about this decision. Loss of the long-form Census information will cause considerable economic and social costs. The data are a key part of the decision-making processes of businesses, marketers, public service providers, community service providers, and charities. The effectiveness and responsiveness of public policy initiatives of federal, provincial, territorial and municipal governments will be compromised. Canada is a vast country with considerable differentiation in the economic and social situations by geographical location. For many purposes the long-form Census questionnaire is the only valid source of data available of a local nature.

We are all users of information derived from the Census long-form questionnaire, and we would appreciate the opportunity to explain to you how the loss of these data would impair our operations. For many of us this would mean a less efficient use of money we collect from Canadians, in some cases via Government grants. For all of us, it means we will be less sure if we are allocating our resources — be they funds or people – in an effective way, given our respective mandates.

We appreciate that the Government is attempting to broaden the coverage with the replacement to the long-form questionnaire. However, without similar compliance resources and requirements, it will not be possible to achieve reasonable data results with the voluntary form. Many problematic issues can be anticipated with such a move. The very high response rate to the Census provides an unrivalled accuracy and allows many other key sources of data we use from Statistics Canada to be benchmarked and to be drawn from appropriately weighted samples.

It is of course difficult to judge in advance the sort of overall response rate that would be realized for a voluntary survey. Tests of a move from mandatory to voluntary in the U.S. yielded unsatisfactory results and the process was dropped. Past experience indicates that the responses will not be representative of the total population. And in particular the responses from key communities of concern, such as the very poor, Aboriginal communities, recent immigrants and some ethno-racial communities, will likely be quite low. Effective health services would be compromised. Consequently, the impact of these changes will be disproportionately borne by those who are already most vulnerable.

Without the full Census it will be difficult to know how to adjust the responses to correct these imbalances in response rates across socio-economic groups. It will also become more difficult to benchmark other key data series and determine how to effectively target other surveys with relatively smaller samples. Additionally, there will be a great loss in monitoring how various groups are doing over time as there will be a serious break in the data after 2006. This break will render all previous Census results less useful.

We represent a wide spectrum of economic and social interests. But we have a common concern that our ability to function effectively will be seriously harmed by the changes announced to the Census. We hope you will be willing to meet with us to discuss your concerns and ours so that we can find a mutually satisfactory way to preserve the long-form Census so essential to all of us.

We understand that the far-reaching impacts of this decision may not have been fully anticipated and we respectfully request the opportunity to help find a solution that meets the needs of all Canadians.

Al Hatton, President of United Way—Centraide Canada is available to help coordinate a meeting at your earliest convenience. He can be reached at, or by phone at 613 236 7841.

cc. the Right Honourable Stephen Harper


Craig Alexander – President, Canadian Association for Business Economics and Chief Economist of TD Bank

Rachel Bard – CEO, Canadian Nurses Association

Ken Battle – President, Caledon Institute

Marni Cappe – President, The Canadian Institute of Planners

Mel Cappe – President and CEO, Institute for Research on Public Policy, and former Clerk of the Privy Council

Debbie Douglas – Executive Director, Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants

Don Drummond – Donald Matthews Fellow and Distinguished Visiting Scholar, School of Policy Studies, Queen’s University, former Chief Economist of the TD Bank and former ADM of Finance

Nicholas Gazzard – Executive Director, Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada

Ken Georgetti – President, Canadian Labour Congress

Roger Gibbins – President and CEO, Canada West Foundation

Al Hatton – President and CEO, United Way of Canada

Alex Himelfarb – Director, Glendon School of International and Public Policy, and former Clerk of the Privy Council

Dr. Matthew Hodge – President, National Specialty Society for Community Medicine

Jan Kestle – President, Environics Analytics

Frances Lankin – President and CEO, United Way Toronto

Roger Martin – Dean, Rotman School of Management

Nik Nanos – President and CEO, Nanos Research

Dr. Cordell Neudorf – Chair, Board of Directors, Canadian Public Health Association

Mark Stabile – Director, School of Public Policy and Governance, University of Toronto

Penni Stewart – President, Canadian Association of University Teachers

Peggy Taillon – Executive Director, Canadian Council on Social Development

Mike Veall – President Elect Canadian Economic Association

Carol Wilding –President and CEO, Toronto Board of Trade

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