Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
August 30, 2010
Keep mandatory long form census: Catholic Bishops
CANADIAN CATHOLIC NEWS
OTTAWA - Canada's Catholic bishops have spoken out against federal government's plan to abolish the mandatory long-form census.
Bishop Pierre Morissette, president of the bishops' conference, challenged the government's assertion the mandatory long form is intrusive, noting the surveys are anonymous.
"In order to build a more harmonious society, it is in our government's best interest to inquire into these areas," Morissette, the bishop of Saint-Jerome wrote in a letter to Industry Minister Tony Clement.
"It seems reasonable to ask these questions so as to better meet the needs of Canadians," he said.
"No aspect of Canadians' lifestyles should be neglected in the effort to strengthen our nation's identity."
"A great deal of this information, based on data gathered by Statistics Canada, is most helpful to all faith groups," said Morissette.
The Catholic Civil Rights League (CCRL) also favours keeping at least portions of the long-form census mandatory, especially questions about religious affiliation that will now be dropped in the 2011 census.
The mandatory long form will be replaced by a voluntary National Household Survey (NHS) that statisticians have argued will not provide a true random sample.
"Information about religious affiliation and religious practice are helpful to many Canadians in their understanding of society and, more specifically for some faith groups, in planning for the needs of their community," said CCRL executive director Joanne McGarry.
"Such information is also extremely useful for historians and sociologists, both now and in the future, as well as to Canadians researching their own family histories."
McGarry said she hopes a compromise can be reached for a shorter mandatory questionnaire.
Morissette, bishop of Saint-Jerome, Quebec, noted the bishops rely on census data to "gain knowledge of the demographics and identify the geographic areas where our services are required."
"From an ecumenical and inter-faith perspective, for all religions, this information is vital," he wrote.
McGarry said the census provides a "way we have of knowing where we're at" so that if someone claims religion is declining in Canada, there's a place to check the facts. "We need to ask these questions."
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