Half of respondents believe the federal government should reverse its decision, and only one-in-four think long form is intrusive.

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A majority of Canadians welcome an opposition proposal to re-instate the abandoned mandatory long form census, a new Angus Reid Public Opinion poll has found.

In the online survey of a representative sample of 1,012 Canadian adults, 49 per cent of respondents (-5 since August) think the federal government should reverse its decision and keep the mandatory long form census.

Conversely, 29 per cent of respondents (-2) believe the federal government should stick by its decision and carry on with its proposed voluntary survey.

Alberta (42%) boasts the highest proportion of respondents who want the government to stand by its decision to scrap the mandatory long form census, while majorities of Ontarians (53%) and Quebecers (54%) call for Ottawa to reverse its decision.

The federal government’s argument that the long form census is intrusive and Canadians should not be forced to answer it is supported by 26 per cent of respondents (+2). Conversely, 53 per cent (-5) think the long form census yields data that is important to make policy decisions in all areas of public service, and should remain mandatory.

The opposition parties are contemplating whether to amend the Statistics Act to include the long-form census that was scrapped by the current government. More than half of respondents (54%) support this course of action, while one-in-four (23%) oppose it.

Political Allegiance

Respondents who voted for the Conservative Party in the 2008 federal election are more likely to want the government to stick by its decision to scrap the mandatory long form census (47%, compared to the national average of 29%), more likely to oppose the opposition’s plan to amend the Statistics Act (43%, compared to the national average of 23%), and more likely to claim that the long form census is intrusive (39%, compared to the national average of 26%).

At least 70 per cent of respondents who voted for the Liberal Party, the New Democratic Party (NDP) or the Green Party in the 2008 federal election believe the long form census should remain mandatory, call on the government to reverse its decision, and support the move to amend the Statistics Act.

Analysis

The level of support for keeping the mandatory long form census was high in July and August (at 58%), and remains above the 50 per cent mark in October. There is also some fluctuation in the demands for the government to reverse its controversial decision (52% in July, 54% in August, 49% in October).

For the most part, Tory voters are standing by the federal government. The opposition reacted in harmony against the decision to scrap the mandatory long form census, and now has a unifying factor in the private member’s bill tabled by Liberal MP Carolyn Bennet. The bill would specify that a long-form questionnaire must be administered every five years and would also remove the existing threat of jail time for people who fail to answer the census.

Full Report, Detailed Tables and Methodology (PDF)

CONTACT:

Jaideep Mukerji, Vice President, Public Affairs
+514 409 0462
jaideep.mukerji@angus-reid.com

Methodology: From October 4 to October 5, 2010, Angus Reid Public Opinion conducted an online survey among 1,012 randomly selected Canadian adults who are Angus Reid Forum panelists. The margin of error—which measures sampling variability—is +/- 3.1%, 19 times out of 20. The results have been statistically weighted according to the most current education, age, gender and region Census data to ensure a sample representative of the entire adult population of Canada. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.