By: Lynn Desjardins
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Canadian government is encouraging people to fill in the 2021 census online or by telephone. As of May 3, 2021, every household in Canada will receive a letter in the mail with instructions on how to complete their questionnaire. Where households do not respond, an enumerator will be sent wearing personal protective equipment, but will not enter the home.
For those filing online, the government promises it uses a secure login process and strong encryption to protect people’s personal information. Telephone help is available for people who do not want to file online or do not understand either of Canada’s official languages, English or French. The number to call is 1-855-340-2021.
The government statistics agency notes that it depends on the census to “tell us about how our country is changing and what matters to us. We all depend on key socioeconomic trends and analysis from the census to make important decisions that affect our families, our neighbourhoods and our businesses.”
‘Now more than ever, it’s crucial’
The agency notes that information collected now is of particular importance for post-pandemic planning. “Now more than ever, it’s crucial that all of us complete the census,” said Anil Arora, Chief Statistician of Canada, Statistics Canada. “The 2021 Census will help us to better understand the impacts of the pandemic for different population groups and communities across the country and ensure we have good data for planning for a post-pandemic recovery and beyond.”
Canadians who don’t have internet access or simply prefer it, can fill in the census by telephone. (iStock)The government seeks information from everyone including Canadian citizens (by birth or naturalization), landed immigrants, refugee claimants (e.g., asylum seekers), Canadian Foreign Service officers, Canadian Armed Forces members stationed abroad and people who hold a work or study permit.
Farm data will help understand impacts of the pandemic
At the same time, the government is asking farm operators to complete the 2021 Census of Agriculture questionnaire. It says that the data collected from is vital to understanding the impacts of the pandemic on the agricultural community, including supply chain and trade disruptions, and food security. Information helps federal and provincial governments “manage expenditures in support of the agriculture sector, including natural disaster and disease outbreak programming and compensation, establishing program payment caps, performance reporting and food safety issues.”
The United Nations notes that almost every country collects data by census to help them make major decisions for the future. “Censuses are a comprehensive source of statistical information for economic and social development planning and for administrative purposes. For example, the results of a census are used to distribute and allocate government funds for education, health services and delineating electoral districts. Census data can also be used for academic research or business marketing.”