Saturday, May 26, 2007

Parliamentary Review Needed: Canadian Census 'Informed Consent Clause'

Please ask your Canadian Members of Parliament and Senators to push for an early review of the current Census 'Informed Consent' clause.

The 2006 Canadian census contained, for the first time in history, an ‘informed consent’ clause that allowed respondents to prevent census information they provided from ever being released for public access. Genealogists and historians across Canada agreed not to oppose inclusion of this clause in order to expedite access after 92 years to post 1901 censuses. They were assured that Statistics Canada’s 2006 census publicity campaign would encourage Canadians to answer ‘Yes’ to the ‘informed consent’ clause. Statistics Canada failed to live up to that promise.

Past censuses have provided historians and genealogist with a rich and complete picture of Canada’s population, but Statistics Canada has now reported that less than 56% of Canadians answered ‘Yes’ to the 2006 consent clause. Over 12% did not answer the question at all, although many of these people gave their information directly to an enumerator. Effectively, this means that the value of the 2006 Canadian census for historical and genealogical research has been destroyed.

However, Bill S-18 which imposed the consent clause also included a provision for a review of the clause’s effect after the 2011 census is taken.

Please e-mail or write your Members of Parliament and Senators to seek their support for a review of the effect of the 'informed consent' question now, without waiting for the research value of another Census to be destroyed. You can use a link on Gordon Watt’s column (see below) to send an e-mail or you can mail a letter to your M.P. No stamp is necessary if sent to their Ottawa address.

Contact information

Members of Parliament:


The Honourable Maxime Bernier, Minister of Industry:

Ivan P. Fellegi, Chief Statistician of Canada:

Ian E. Wilson, Librarian and Archivist of Canada:

For more information, see Gordon Watts Reports, April 24, 2007 on-line, “2006 Census response to Informed Consent” and “Where to now?”. A link is provided so you can easily forward by e-mail to others. Add your own comments and ask that both Gordon’s articles be read:

Gordon Watts, Co-Chair of the Post 1901 Canadian Census campaign, would appreciate being copied on any response you might get from any of your parliamentary representatives:

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