The Canadian Public Health Association (CPHA) has released an analysis of the health, health equity and public health impacts of the Government of Canada’s decision in July 2010 to replace the mandatory long-form census with a voluntary survey. The response to the decision was presented to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities.
The document raises issues about the validity, reliability, representativeness and utility of the data that will be produced by the proposed voluntary National Household Survey (NHS). The authors believe that the voluntary NHS will lessen the capacity of Canada’s federal, provincial and municipal public health communities to respond to factors that impact on the health and well-being of individuals, as well as to monitor and assess the impact of policies and programs on health. Anticipated outcomes of the decision include an increase in overall health burden in the country, especially for vulnerable and marginalized groups and individuals.
CPHA recommendations include: making the NHS mandatory through a legislative mechanism; postponing the census for one year to allow for time to resolve identified issues with the census; reinstate the former census model for the 2016 census; and engage in public consultation to maximize compliance.
See “The Impact of Cancelling the Mandatory Long-Form Census on Health, Health Equity and Public Health,” Canadian Public Health Association, November 18, 2010, available at www.cpha.ca.