The Conservative cabinet decided this month to replace the mandatory long census with a voluntary survey next year. Industry Minister Tony Clement said the decision was based on the fact that some Canadians found the mandatory process coercive and the detailed questions intrusive.
Critics from a wide range of business, social and academic groups say the data from voluntary surveys are simply not as reliable because certain groups are unlikely to respond.
Over the past week economists, former government officials, charities, doctors and educators have all stepped forward to declare how much the private and public sectors depend on the treasure trove of demographic details collected by the mandatory long form.
What do you think about the government's decision to replace the manditory long census?
What are the long-term consequences of this decision?
Read Thursday's discussion
Taking questions was Stephen Gordon, professor of economics at Université Laval in Quebec City and a fellow of the Centre interuniversitaire sur le risque, les politiques économiques et l'emploi (CIRPÉE). He is also a co-author of Worthwhile Canadian Initiative, a Canadian economics blog that has followed the census dispute closely.
We were also joined by Armine Yalnizyan, one of Canada's leading labour economists, who joined the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives in 2008. She has analyzed trends in job markets, income inequality, government budgets and access to services like training and healthcare for over 25 years. She serves on the boards of the Canadian Association for Business Economics, the Canadian Institute of Population and Public Health, and the Public Interest Advocacy Centre. She has written several articles about the government's census decision.
Readers using mobile phones can read the discussion by following this link.