An appalling decision from the Canadian federal government today, reported by the Globe & Mail here: “Tories scrap mandatory long-form census”
The census is a vital data source for all sorts of transportation and land use planning. A voluntary census is nearly useless, since the sample will suffer from voluntary response bias. This will do nothing to reduce the number of analysts and bureaucrats – provincial governments will be forced to step in and collect the same data themselves, but this will inevitably result in the loss of province-to-province comparisons.
As for privacy, the alleged basis for this decision: Statistics Canada jumps through all sorts of hoops to ensure the privacy of respondents. It would be difficult if not impossible to connect any of the published census data back to an individual. Yes, the questions are detailed and probing; but the anonymization process used by Stats Can is tougher than anywhere else in the world that I’ve seen.