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Counting Canadian heads

Census time again



With yellow envelopes clasped in hands the Census workers are everywhere in Whistler right now.

Every five years Statistics Canada asks every Canadian to provide information about themselves. The information is used by governments, businesses, researchers and individual Canadians to shed light on issues such as employment, education, training, transportation, housing, immigration, income support, and many others.

Most people will be asked to answer eight questions limited to their name, gender, marital status, date of birth and first language. They will also be asked if their personal information can be released in 92 years.

A longer version of the census will be given to 20 per cent of the population and includes questions on where people are born, their education and their employment.

The census is more than a population count; it provides all levels of government, business, industry, media, academia and independent organizations with social, economic and demographic information that is essential for making decisions regarding the many services each provides to the public.

Businesses and governments use census data extensively when developing plans and policies.

Here are just a few examples of how the information is used:

• Each person counts in monetary terms when calculating the transfer of federal money to various programs in the provinces and territories.

• Many provincial and regional governments use population counts to make grants to local and municipal governments.

• School boards and communities use census data indicating the number of children in certain age groups when planning new schools.

• Government departments such as Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) and Social Development Canada (SDC) must know the age trends of the population to plan for pensions, health care, housing, employment programs and child tax credits.

• Life insurance companies base their premium tables on census age data.

• New manufacturing, store and office locations are largely based on population distribution in different localities.

• Community infrastructure depends on census information for population growth and movement when planning for roads, waterworks, public transit and fire protection.

• Farmers and farm organizations depend on the census to track changes in agriculture.

• Town planners use census information on households and families to estimate current and future housing needs, hospitals and day-care centres.

• Manufacturers of household and farm equipment are guided by census data in deciding what products to manufacture and where to sell them.

There are several new questions this time around including one on where individuals received their highest level of education to allow analysis of inter-provincial/territorial flows of skilled personnel.

Citizens will also be asked about income from child benefits and income tax paid.

Questions on religion are normally asked only once every 10 years and that issue was asked in 2001.

Census day is May 16 so make sure you have filled out your form either on paper or on line by then.

It is against the law not to fill it out.

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