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Census 2016: Stand up and be counted

The Mandatory Long-Form Census is back; StatsCan looking for enumerators

Barry Coulter

We've been 10 years without it, but the mandatory long-form census is back, and it's coming to a household near you — perhaps even yours.

And Statistics Canada, which runs the census, is also seeking enumerators to help out in the region.

The last census, in 2011, was conducted as a voluntary survey — the National Household Survey, as it was known. Kwong Wong, of Statistics Canada, told the Townsman this year's census is seeking to collect the same quality of data as the last time the long-form census was conducted 10 years ago.

"The goal of the 2016 census program is to restore the quality of data for special populations, and for all levels of geography, including the coverage of small municipalities, to the level of the 2006 census," Wong said.

"What we're trying to achieve, through the ever-growing information needs of Canadians, is that we want to publish high quality data at the local level. This will provide communities such as Cranbrook the information they need to make decisions on services such as schools, roads, health care, policing, transit, and social services.

"There's really no other source for social service organizations in your community to understand what's happening in neighbourhoods — to understand poverty, to plan for education, to plan for long-term health care, etc.

"That's what the long-form census is really trying to achieve. It's getting reliable sources of information."

Have people noticed the lack of this information over the past several years, with the absence of the long-form census?

“Obviously, when you compare the mandatory long-form, for example, to a voluntary survey, there are definitely differences in response,” Wong answered. “And that’s what the 2016 census is going to achieve, given the ability of the mandatory long-form to provide high quality local level.”

StatsCan is mailing out both a long-form census and a short-form version. One in four households will receive the long-form census. The questionnaires are mandatory, and must be filled out by law. In early May, households will receive a census letter or package, providing them with information on how to complete the census questionnaire.

“Respondents will be encouraged to complete their questionnaire online,” Wong said. “It’s definitely the preference, but of course Statistics Canada staff will follow up through telephone calls and personal interviews at non-responding households.”

The census will also apply to First Nations, and StatsCan is seeking enumerators to help out.

“We will be enumerating households and dwellings on reserves by completing the census questionnaire in person,” Wong said. “This is the reason to recruit and hire people on reserves. When we enumerate on reserves it’s important we try to recruit the people there.”

The enumeration period is approaching .

“That’s why we’re asking applicants to apply right now, online — — they can go right to our website and apply there.”

There are approximately 78 enumerator positions in the East Kootenay Regional District. Enumerators follow up and complete questionnaires with respondents, in some areas they also deliver questionnaires to each dwelling. In other cases they may be required to complete questionnaires in person or by telephone interviews. Enumerators also collect census information  from people living in “collective dwellings” — for example hospitals, hotels, nursing homes and school residences.

To be eligible to apply one must be 18 years or older, and Canadian citizen or in possession of a valid work permit or permanent resident status, be knowledgable about the community, and be prepared to work long days — evenings, weekends and holidays.

Enumerators will earn $16.31 an hour, plus authorized expenses. Wong said the employment period involves variable start dates — from right away all the way to August of 2016. “That’s why we’re encouraging all applicants to start right away.”

The data compiled by the 2016 census could be released to the public and media as early as February, 2017.

About the Author: Black Press Media Staff

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