When given a choice will we choose to make the extra effort?
In 2010 the Government of Canada changed the requirement for all households to complete a full census form. The traditional longform is now optional, which means Canadians only have to provide basic information about themselves. Information such as employment rates, education rates, and household incomes obtained from the census can no longer be trusted.
It was a controversial move, but it was only one part of the austerity measures that according to this Maclean’s article has caused irreparable data loss. Most of this is out of our control since we’re discovering the data loss too late. But what about the part we can control? The longform census is no longer mandatory but it didn’t disappear.
The Maclean’s article states that one fifth of Canada’s communities are now statistical dead zones. But why is that? The longform census was delivered to all of these communities. What is it about the word ‘optional’ that translates into ‘don’t bother’. If someone is uncomfortable with sharing more information with the government I can respect that it was their choice. But the reality is it has more to do with apathy.
What about our modern lives makes us so lazy? Our lives are so convenient. We have access to so much information. We write, read, share, and complain about the census change, but the only thing that changed is that the onus is on us now. We are responsible for the success or failure of the census. And in 2011 we failed.
The 2011 Census makes me worry about us at a national level but the prevalent attitude that caused it makes me worry about us on a personal level.
And as for the rest of the article’s concerns, we can deal with that in the upcoming election. But only if we make the effort.
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