Policy and Political Action

Policy & Political Action

Action Alert to Prime Minister Harper, Party Leaders, and the Minister of Industry: Reverse the Unwise Decision to Cancel the Long Form Census

July 20, 2010



Please Act Now!  On June 26, 2010 it became public that the federal government has arbitrarily decided to cancel the 2011 long form Census and replace it with a less reliable voluntary survey. This hasty decision was taken without consulting the various levels of government, business, and civil society groups that depend on this data to inform evidence-based policy decisions.


In sharp contrast to the proposed voluntary survey that will be biased, unreliable, and not representative of the population, the long form Census has a response rate of over 95 per cent and provides “the only source of regular, highly detailed, systematic information on immigration, family and household structure, racialization, demography, and other vital information about Canadians.” The risk of undercounting vulnerable groups such as new immigrants, Aboriginal Canadians, and those in lower socio-economic groups through a voluntary survey has the potential to impact our ability to best provide services as well as identify societal trends such the racialization of poverty, income inequality, hours worked without pay providing child and elder care, etc. The proposed changes will cost more and deliver less reliable data. The anecdotal rationale provided by Industry Minister Tony Clement of the long form Census as intrusive contrasts with the very few complaints received by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner. For most households, the long form questionnaire requires less than 20 to 30 minutes on average and statistically, the average household will receive the long form once every 25 years.


Read RNAO’s Open Letter to Prime Minister Harper with full references here.


  • Email the letter below to the Right Hon. Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada; Hon. Michael Ignatieff, Leader of the Opposition; Hon. Jack Layton, Leader of the New Democratic Party; Hon. Gilles Duceppe, Leader of the Bloc Québécois; and the Hon. Tony Clement, Minister of Industry. You can edit the letter to share insights from your nursing practice and/or life experiences on why good data is needed to inform health and public policy decisions.
  • Please share this action alert with your colleagues, neighbours, friends, and family and ask them to email as well.



Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (2010). Open Letter to Prime Minister Harper: Maintain the Long Form Census.


Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (2010). Media Release: Ontario nurses urge Prime Minister Harper to reverse decision to eliminate long-form census questionnaire.


Facebook Group on Keep the Canada Census Long Form


Petition to Keep the Canada Long Form:


Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives Read CCPA Open Letter, Updates, and CBC Interview with Armine Yalnizyan


Picard, A. (2010). Ottawa should come to its census: Stop dogging StatsCan. Globe and Mail. July 7, 2010.


Travers, J. (2010). Census change latest move in PM’s dumbing down of Canada. Toronto Star. July 8, 2010.