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Hiring teachers would be harder wihtout data on local languages and education levels or incomes.

Peter Power/The Globe and Mail

Abandoning the mandatory long form of the census will have ripple effects on Canadians because so many decisions are based on information gleaned from it, critics of the change say. They argue that the voluntary system would introduce bias and reduce the reliability of data collected about individual neighbourhoods, wreaking havoc with local planning, experts say. Here are 10 ways critics say the census changes could affect you:

Libraries: Collecting census details by neighbourhood is vital for planning libraries because it yields information on incomes, languages, density and education levels.

Business start-ups: New businesses use census data to decide where to set up shop, examining measures such as education levels, incomes and occupations in particular areas.

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Junk mail: Many marketers tailor their mailing lists using data from the long-form census. Without a reliable collection method, consumers can expect more intrusion from "poorly targeted" marketing campaigns, Environics warns.

Bus lines: A lack of detail about neighbourhoods will make it unclear where public transit needs are greatest.

Jobless benefits: Governments will have a tougher time determining whether to extend or change employment insurance benefits in regions.

Condos: Home builders and research groups rely on the census's picture of changing demographics to determine how local housing needs change over time.

Immigrant settlement services: Many newcomers will be less likely to respond to a voluntary census, meaning it will be tougher to plan services to support them.

Schools: Hiring teachers and planning schools gets more difficult without local information on languages, education levels and incomes in neighbourhoods.

Charities: Non-profits and charities use the long-form of the census to track changing environmental, social, economic and cultural challenges in communities.

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French services: Information on where people speak French in Canada will be eroded, making it more difficult to extend services to groups such as immigrant Canadians who speak French as their second language.

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About the Author

Tavia Grant has worked at The Globe and Mail since early 2005, covering topics from employment and currency markets to trade, microfinance and Latin American economies. She previously worked for Bloomberg News in Toronto and Zurich, writing on mining, stocks, currencies and secret Swiss bank accounts. More

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