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Doctors, journos join protest over census

Doctors and journalists have joined many other professions and groups in protesting the "voluntary" long form for the next national census.

An editorial in the Canadian Medical Association Journal said: "Ideology trumps evidence with new voluntary survey." The editorial concluded:

If this decision is not reversed, Canada will stand alone among developed nations in not having detailed information about its population. The Harper government will appear to have made a decision based on ideology rather than evidence.

Worse yet, it has imposed an uninformed approach to public policy on all other levels of government, health authorities and institutions. The Harper government will have signalled that it is no longer committed to accountability.

Meanwhile, the Canadian Association of Journalists warned that census changes would be bad for democracy.

The mandatory long form census produces a wealth of independent, reliable, in-depth data for journalists and for the public. It allows journalists to follow immigration, poverty and housing trends, cover local elections more effectively, test the effectiveness of government programs and uncover stories Canadians might not otherwise see.

"Journalists use census data every single day to give context to news stories and help Canadians understand their communities," CAJ president Mary Agnes Welch said.

"Doing away with the mandatory long form will effectively kill a source of information that makes governments more accountable and citizens better informed. This will be a blow to democracy."

A Facebook group, Keep the Canada Census Long Form, has attracted a large number of members.

Crawford Kilian is a contributing editor of The Tyee.

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