OTTAWA — The new Liberal government is making good on its promise to resurrect the mandatory long-form census survey cancelled by its Conservative predecessor.
Navdeep Bains, the new minister of innovation, science and economic development, made the announcement on Parliament Hill.
“Today, Canadians are reclaiming their right to accurate and more reliable information,” Bains told a news conference.
“Communities will once again have access to high-quality data they require to make decisions that will truly reflect the needs of the people, businesses, institutions and organizations.”
But neither Bains nor Social Development Minister Jean-Yves Duclos would discuss specific consequences or penalties would be imposed to ensure the mandatory questionnaire is filled out.
“The law is the law,” and the law has not changed, said Bains, who noted repeatedly that the government is reinstating the mandatory portion of the survey in order to produce “reliable, good-quality data.”
He said the government plans to roll out a “robust communications plan” to ensure Canadians know it’s no longer an option to choose not to fill out the form.
In 2006, the last time the long-form portion of the census was mandatory, the penalties for not taking part included a maximum fine of $500 and the possibility of jail time.
Bains said the previous Conservative government did away with the survey, replacing it with the voluntary National Household Survey, for ideological reasons rather than practical ones.
He also noted that the mandatory version is significantly cheaper than the voluntary one.
“The voluntary process actually cost an additional $22 million,”Bains said. “Making it mandatory will actually make it less expensive, (and) it will be on budget and on time.”
The next census, which takes place every five years, is scheduled to take place in 2016, with the data to be released the following year.