Wildfire evacuees from Fort McMurray, Alta., will not be required to complete the 2016 census, at least for now. Collection activity in that area has been suspended indefinitely for those displaced.
For all other Canadians, the May 10 deadline has come and gone but you’ll still have to fill it if you haven’t already.
It’s required by law that households across the country complete the census every five years. Planning for the 2016 census began two years ago and it’s aimed a capturing a statistical portrait of the country.
“There’s key things they want to measure are more demographically-based like who are we or something key about you,” said Lang McGilp, senior research executive for Insightrix.
“As opposed to your attitude or your opinion on something so it’s more inventory-based questions about people.”
What Statistics Canada is trying to determine with the 2016 census is the age and sex of Canadians. Family compositions and the ethnicity of those living in the country are also part of the questionnaire.
In many cases, reliable results can be captured by asking a few simple questions which is why only one in four households across the country were asked to fill out the long-form version according to Marc Hamel, director general of the Census Program at Statistics Canada.
“It traces a portrait of education levels, job obtainment,” said Hamel.
“If we’re working, what kinds of jobs we’re working at, revenue levels and the state of housing, do we live in adequate housing across the country.”
The old adage “if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it” couldn’t be more applicable when it comes to Canadians filling out the census.
The information compiled is used to aid officials in planning services such as daycare centres, school, health care, language classes and things like fire services.
“It’s kind of a snapshot, a basic snapshot but a very important one for decision making point of view and to support programs at all levels,” said Hamel.
For any Canadians that missed the May 10 deadline, you can expect a reminder in the mail. If you fail to fill it out after that, you could face a $500 fine and three months in jail, although that’s up to the judge’s discretion if it gets to that point.
“Sometimes the judge might even prescribe some community work or just order the person to complete the form and that’s the end of the proceedings,” said Hamel.