Speaking notes: Mandatory Long Form Census vital for good policy and good governance

Good evidence is fundamental for good policy and good governance. The mandatory Long Form Census is an important tool in our national statistical system to provide accurate data at the national level and for small-area needs. The Wellesley Institute, along with 377 national and regional groups, is opposed to the federal government’s plan to replace the Long Form with a voluntary survey that won’t yield accurate or statistically valid results. But it’s not too late to restore the Long Form in time for the 2011 Census. Those are among the key points in the testimony by the Wellesley Institute’s Michael Shapcott to the Commons HUMA committee hearings on Thursday.

The Wellesley Institute uses Long Form data in many of our commissioned and internal research and policy initiatives, ranging from the Street Health Report (a comprehensive review of the health status of people without housing) to Cashing In (community-based research on payday lending). Other major projects that rely on Long Form materials and other data sources include: Poverty is Making Us Sick (comprehensive national review of the links between income and health); Precarious Housing in Canada 2010 (national report on housing and homelessness) and the Wellesley Urban Health Model (a systems dynamic model of population health in Toronto – in the final stages of development).

The Wellesley Institute is a partner in a national open data consortium that includes governmental and non-governmental groups that uses a rich mix of statistical material to develop a better understanding of national and local-area issues and needs, and also helps to set targets, timelines and options for action.

Another day of hearing by the Commons all-party committee is scheduled for November 23.

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