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Canadians Are Legally Required To Fill Out Long-Form 2016 Censuses

Whether it’s online, by phone, or on paper, being part of or taking a census isn’t really regarded as an enjoyable activity by most Canadians. If anything, censuses are generally seen as something of a nuisance to Canadians, given how long one can take to fill out.

But regardless of your personal feelings towards censuses, ready yourself should Statistics Canada send you access codes to be a part of their latest survey. For failing to oblige is actually a convictable crime.

Beginning May 2nd, 2016, the Statistics Canada 2016 survey will be sent to 1-in-4 Canadian households. Those chosen will receive access codes to then take the long-form census (which numbers to 36 pages) or have the option of filling out a hard copy version.

As mentioned, if any chosen household fails to complete the mandatory form, one could receive a $500 fine or be forcibly imprisoned for three months. Both summary convictions are also a possibility.

Statistics Canada reserves this power thanks to Section 31 of the Statistics Act which states that anyone who “refuses or neglects to answer, or willfully answers falsely” to the census questions or “knowingly gives false or misleading information or practices any other deception there under” can be charged with a summary offence.

Created in 1918, the Statistics Act provides Statistics Canada (originally the Dominion Bureau of Statistics) the power to “”collect, compile, analyze, abstract, and publish information on the economic, social and general conditions of the country and its citizens.”

While this does seem like an unfair amount of power given to an information-collection governmental agency, the Statistics Act also ensures that the identity of anyone partaking in a Statistics Canada census will be kept confidential.

The latest census to be sent out by Statistics Canada is longer than those of previous years, marking a return to the long-form, which was part of the Liberal Party’s platform during the election.

May 10th is currently marked as “Census Day” in Canada, the date in which the 2016 census should be completed. Of course, if you want to ensure you don’t receive any fines or the like, you can complete the census early and dodge any proverbial bullets.

Michael D'Alimonte

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