(Ottawa) Statistics say the Canadian census response has so far exceeded expectations. The agency has already received first-time completed questionnaires online from some remote communities.
A letter with information on how to complete the short and long questionnaires was sent to each resident last week. Statistics are asking that no answers be received by May 11, the official census day.
If the online response is high this year, it could be due to the epidemic. Statistics Canada has made changes to allow everyone to complete their questionnaire online.
Geoff Boulby, director general of the Census Program at Statistics Canada, expressed concern that remote communities may not have enough Internet coverage to respond online.
However, the agency is receiving quicker responses than large urban centers, rural and remote communities, as well as First Nations.
Bowlby said Statistics Canada received responses from Gris Ford in Nunavut, which has a population of 129, according to a previous census five years ago.
The agency estimates that nearly 80% of people complete the questionnaire on the Internet, but as Boulby puts it, that number may change as fewer Canadians are asked to accept a hard copy of the questionnaire.
He said online responses make life easier for agency analysts. It is also safe for employees who have to enter responses manually for paper questionnaires at a processing center in the National Capital Region.
Analysts will spend the next few months using data collected from census forms before the results are released in 2022.
According to the census, which takes place every five years, it provides a wealth of information on Canadians in detail.
Elected officials use this information to determine areas where a new school or hospital is needed. According to the census it is possible to determine the amounts that the federal government sends to provinces and territories, especially for health care systems.
But will the epidemic put a dumper on the wheels in this statistical picture of the country by disrupting the daily routines of many people?
Bowlby Statistics Canada seeks to analyze the impact of the epidemic by analyzing the answers to some questions, including how long it will take to work. Many employees had to switch to telecommuting during the epidemic.
“These kinds of conversations have taken place in our office. We all work in Statistics Canada from home. We can understand that some people find it difficult to find answers to certain questions because of COVID-19. So, we know this. And we have some tips for anyone who has a hard time understanding the questions. We got it. “
The agency also uses data held by the government, such as information from the Canada Revenue Agency, to complete or replace part of the questionnaire.
She explored ways to use this administrative data to replace a smaller version of the questionnaire that relied primarily on the number of people living in the home, their age and the relationships between them.
Statistics Canada to calculate the population of Fort McMurray in 2016 when the city of Alberta had to be counted when a forest fire occurred.
Mr Bowlby said the agency was still considering whether to keep a digital bowl register. He also stressed the need to consult Canadians on the matter, citing technical barriers.
“If we replace parts of the census, we must make sure that it does not affect the quality of information that Canadians expect from the census,” he said.