BY TAMARA BELKOV
to take attendance, Canada. Once every five years Statistics Canada
conducts a country-wide census on every Canadian household.
This year, the national rollcall will take place
Tuesday, May 16.
Statistics Act guarantees the confidentiality of census information,
which is used by the government to calculate the levels of support for
public services. At the municipal level, this can mean services such as
fire protection, public transit, day care, and seniors’ housing, all of
which are assessed on a population basis. Statistic information can
also used by businesses and community groups.
80 percent of households will receive a short questionnaire with eight
questions, while 20 percent will receive a longer one with 53 questions.
2006 census will be the first time respondents will be given the
opportunity to request their information not be released to future
generations. In the past, census data has automatically been
transferred to the federal agency Libraries and Archives Canada, 92
years after it was recorded. This information is a vital source of
information for people researching family history.
Gainer, chair of the Sudbury branch of the Ontario Genealogical
Society, says responding to the questionnaire is more than just civic
“It’s often the only record we have
that lets us trace a whole family over time,” says Gainer, who spends
her spare time, tracing family lines historical documents.
can look at the 1911 census and know how many people lived in a Sudbury
household and who they were. It tracks births and deaths by family name
Gainer has been sifting
through historical records and documenting the history of Sudbury
families with the Ontario Genealogical Society. Data contained in a
census allows historians to put together a more accurate picture of
life and society than letters and diaries alone and is a vital research
tool for genealogists.
The census records from 1666 until 1911 are currently
available to the public and are stored at Libraries and Archives
to Gainer, the Ontario Genealogical Society is concerned with the new
question regarding informed consent that has been added this year.
53 asks respondents to permit Statistics Canada to make their
information public in 92 years. For most, that’s probably long after
We’re worried people won’t realize the importance of
it historically and may not answer yes to it.”
Question 53 is on both the long and short version of
Canada’s national archivist Ian Wilson is also
advocating a yes response to Question 53.
a letter on the Libraries and Archives website, Wilson says, “Count
yourself in and ensure that your role in Canada’s history is recognized
now and well into the future.”
to the release of the information, respondents will allow researchers
and genealogists in 2098 to learn more about Canadian society in 2006.
Gainer’s words, the information gathered in the census is harmless to
the respondents almost 100 years after the fact, but of great value
“We’d like to see everyone
fill out all the questions on the census forms especially Question 53.
Our goal is to have a 100 percent yes response to the new informed
consent question,” says Gainer.
on informed consent has been added to the census after a seven-year
campaign by historians and genealogists to keep the government from
withholding public information as guaranteed them in the Access to
Information and Privacy Acts.
can choose the convenience of completing their census questionnaire
online. The online questionnaire will be available beginning May 2.
can phone the 2006 Census Help Line at 1-877-594-2006 starting May 1
between 8 am and 9 pm if they did not receive a census form or have