Editorial – 2016 Census

This week's editorial discusses the 2016 Census, as Census packages are being delivered this week.

Once every five years, the federal government asks us to participate in the Census and the 2016 Census is upon us.

The aim of the Census is to gather information on Canadians: how old we are, who is in our household, and where we live. This information is then used to help plan government programs such as the Canadian Pension Plan and childcare aid.

People are often reluctant to participate in the Census, even though we are legally obligated to. I can understand why, as answering personal questions about my marital status and yearly income isn’t comfortable when it comes from someone I know, let alone a giant governing body. But under the Privacy Act, all of the information that is collected and gathered in the Census cannot be given to other branches of government for any other purposes.

Through the Census, the government is basically just trying to get to know you, not trying to tell on you.

The Census tells us many things about the tapestry of Canada. For example, the 2011 Census determined that the average age was 40.6 years old, Canada was made up of 20.6 per cent immigrants, the median household income was $61,072 and the average farm size was 778 acres.

While this information may seem mundane, the government bases many funding decisions on it. And that is why participating in the Census is in the best interest for all Canadians.

Census forms are being delivered to every residence in the Elk Valley this week, and forms can be filled out and mailed in (with no postage fee) or filled out online.

The Liberal government re-instated the long-form Census, which means that every fourth household will have to fill out more detailed information to give the government a snapshot of one fourth of the population.

Under the Conservatives in the 2011 Census, long form Censuses were voluntary. With the resurrection of the long-form Census, Canadians will have more information available to them, which will help various industries including journalism, science and other research-based endeavours.

Many things stand to be impacted by the 2016 Census, including property taxes in Fernie. This is due to the fact that if Fernie’s population exceeds 5,000, Fernie will be required to enter a Municipal Police Tax Agreement (MPUA) and pay more for an RCMP detachment.

For this reason, I believe the 2016 Census will be the most interesting one yet.