2011 Census Content Consultation Guide
2011 Census content determination: Influencing factors
During the 2011 Census content determination process, data users and interested parties across Canada will be consulted for their views on the type and extent of socio-economic information they believe the census should provide. Before revisions or additions are formally recommended, the results from consultations are reviewed in conjunction with the availability of alternative major data sources and other influencing factors.
Many elements are weighed during the content determination process including the requirement to:
- Support legislation and government programs and policies
Certain census data are used to monitor and administer government programs such as fiscal transfer payments and the Employment Equity Act. Similarly, the census facilitates, for example, a better assessment of the necessary health services and housing structures required to accommodate Canada’s aging population.
- Meet the widespread need for census data of geographically dispersed populations, small geographic areas and target populations
Given the coverage of the census, it is the only reliable source of information on Canadians living in remote geographic areas and in small population groups. As such, it is widely used by community groups, businesses and governments.
- Maintain high standards of data quality
Extensive qualitative and quantitative testing is carried out prior to each census. The National Census Test (NCT) is conducted to measure the reliability and comparability of data, among other purposes.
- Manage costs
To justify the cost of introducing a new question, a clear necessity for the data must be demonstrated with supporting evidence that the census is the most appropriate vehicle for collecting this information.
- Ensure historical comparisons
Historical continuity must be balanced with the relevance of content. Data comparability over time is necessary for trend analysis.
- Consider the burden to respondents
Statistics Canada is very sensitive to the burden placed upon respondents. The length and complexity of the questionnaires are both considered in this respect. Such was the rationale for giving respondents the option of granting Statistics Canada access to income information from their income tax files in 2006.
- Assess alternative data sources
Not all topics are appropriate for a census therefore non-census data sources are also examined. Together with the census, Statistics Canada’s complementary data sources offer greater flexibility than the census alone in meeting data users' needs.
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