New Census Legal Challenge – Fighting for the Equal Right to be Counted…

Fighting for the Equal Right to be Counted…

Just over 100 days have passed since the Harper Government launched its assault on Canada’s fundamental data source with a sneak attack on the long form census. The most reliable, comprehensive source of information, relied on as a tool to respond to the needs and priorities of every Canadian — wiped out, against the advice of experts across the country and abroad, on a political whim.

Canada’s response to this decision has been unequivocal: Why would the government shut down Canada’s navigation system? CCSD, Canada’s authority on evidence based social policy, has mobilized an unprecedented campaign to fight for the Long Form’s reinstatement, alongside hundreds of partners across the country. To date:

  • Over 370 organizations, representing every aspect of Canadian life, have voiced their opposition to this change
  • More than 16,000 Canadians have petitioned for reversal of this decision
  • Over 10,000 individuals have joined the ‘Long Form Census’ Facebook page dedicated to opposing this change.
  • Canada’s Chief Statistician has resigned in protest
  • All opposition parties have been unanimous and vocal in their condemnation of this move
  • Challenges have been launched in the Federal Court
  • Tens of thousands of ‘ordinary Canadians’ have written, called or visited their Members of Parliament to voice their concerns

While the decision remains unchanged, this battle is far from over. Despite the continued campaign of misinformation from the Conservative government, we know that this decision can be changed well into 2011. It’s not over until the surveys hit our mail boxes.

Responding to the overwhelming and very real concerns about the consequences of this catastrophic decision, the Canadian Council on Social Development has launched a legal challenge in the Federal Court defending the equal right of all Canadians to be counted. Partners in the Challenge include:

“Experts across the country and abroad have made it clear; a voluntary survey will under-represent significant communities such as Aboriginal Canadians, Canadians living with disabilities and visible minorities.” said Steve Lurie, of CMHA Toronto

“A voluntary survey will under-represent the numbers, and minimize the service needs, of marginalized communities.” said Avvy Go, Director of Metro Toronto Chinese & Southeast Asian Legal Clinic

“This undercounting will be more evident at the local neighborhood level, rendering this data unusable for local service planning – depriving the undercounted of services to which they are entitled.” said Charles Hill, Aboriginal Housing Association.

“By excluding some groups from the 2011 census, the federal government is saying some Canadians simply don’t count as much as others.  The Charter protects the right to be treated equally, and that includes the equal right to be counted.” Paul Champ, Legal Counsel, Champ & Associates

“This is about all of us. The last 100 days have dramatically demonstrated that as Canadians we understand the benefits and obligations of citizenship, and we stand together and are willing to speak up for what is best for our country said Peggy Taillon, President & CEO, CCSD.

“The next hundred days provide an opportunity for the government to reconsider their position and for Canadians to continue to come together and take action to ensure they do.” said John Campey, Executive Director, Social PlanningToronto.

For more information on CCSD’s legal challenge, or on the Campaign to Reinstate the Long Form Census, contact Peggy Taillon at CCSD, 613-236-8977 x 1, 613-769-5499 or via email: taillon@ccsd.ca

Also Contact: John Campey, at Social Planning Toronto: 1-416-351-0095, 1-647-283-9657, jcampey@socialplanningtoronto.org

About the Canadian Council on Social Development For more than 90 years, the Canadian Council on Social Development (CCSD) has been a key proponent of “unconventional” policies and programs that Canadians now consider essential. In the 1920s we helped shape the first Old Age Pension program. In the 1950s, we were champions of Unemployment Insurance. In this decade, we demonstrated why the National Child Benefit and tax credits for the working poor are wise investments. Through our research and partnerships with organizations across the country, we continue to act as a catalyst for innovative, evidence-based approaches to reducing poverty and building resilient, hopeful thriving Canadian communities. For more information, visit www.ccsd.ca.