A door to Canada's past has slammed shut, leaving future Canadians with little information about their own families and the country's history, in a move the government says was prompted by privacy concerns.
Statistics Canada has quietly made major changes to the country's census in time for the forthcoming round of national sampling in 2011. The long census questionnaire that provided information on a broad range of topics such as ethnicity, education, employment, income, housing and disability has been eliminated. Instead, those questions will be asked on a new, voluntary National Household Survey (NHS) and the results will never be released, in contrast with the treasure trove of census data that become public after 92 years.
Everyone hates filling out the long form, and the only reason you do it is because its illegal not to. So expect to see the response rate to StatsCan's new voluntary survey fall towards nil, which in effect means that the nation has taken a scalpel to its own brain and removed that part devoted to memory.
A truly stupid decision, probably the dumbest since Brian Mulroney decided to try turn Stats Canada's publications into revenue generators back in the 1980s. If you wondering why so much U.S. data is floating free about the Internet to be played with in interesting ways, whereas in Canada you have to pay $1 for every digit, blame him.