A letter sent to Tony Clement, Minister of Industry.
The St. Thomas University Students’ Union represents the academic interests of over 2500 students in Fredericton, New Brunswick. St. Thomas University is the only public, liberal arts university in Canada, and, as such, students and faculty at St. Thomas University rely on public census data far more than those doing research in the natural sciences. That is why the St. Thomas University Students’ Union voted unanimously to oppose the proposed changes to the long-form census.
Our primary concern is the effect that making the long-form census voluntary will have on the quality and utility of the data. Many critics have come out stating that this data will simply be unusable if people are able to choose whether or not to do the census, because certain groups (e.g., low- and high-income households, aboriginal peoples, etc.) are less likely to fill out voluntary questionnaires. This disparity adds an almost inevitable bias to the data, and makes it impossible to accurately compare future census data with statistics collected in the past. This issue is further compounded by the inability of an institution of our size to be able to afford to conduct research of this scope and scrutiny. There is simply no organization in Canada that has the financial and logistical capabilities to reach as many individuals as Statistics Canada can with its mandatory long-form census.
Therefore, on behalf of the 2500 students at St. Thomas University, we strongly urge you to reconsider this decision.