Masse Challengs Industry Minister Tony Clement to Provide Proof of Privacy Complaints Regarding Census

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE July 14, 2010

MASSE DEMANDS MINISTER PROVIDE PROOF OF CENSUS PRIVACY COMPLAINTS
Minister’s comments completely contradict the Office of the Privacy Commissioner

Windsor – NDP Industry Critic Brian Masse M. P. (Windsor West) has challenged on Industry Minister Tony Clement to provide proof of privacy complaints regarding the census long form which he recently eliminated since the Privacy Commissioner has only received 50 complaints since 1991. The Minister has not consulted the Privacy Commissioner for an expert opinion regarding any problems with the census long form even though that office is completely satisfied with the Privacy Impact Analysis of the 2011 census long form by Statistics Canada.

“The Industry Minister claims he has numerous privacy complaints regarding the census long form, so he needs to disclose them. The Minister has not consulted with the Privacy Commissioner, who is responsible for those issues? I spoke to the deputy Privacy Commissioner today and they have only received 50 complaints since 1991. In addition they are completely satisfied with the Privacy Impact Analysis of the 2011 Census Long form conducted by Statistics Canada,” Masse stated. “His sham wow infomercial tactics is not how you run the national census. The Minister must be called in to answer all these contradictions at committee.”

Industry Minister Tony Clement, after conducting no consultations, has converted the mandatory census long form long form which was sent to one-fifth of Canadian to a voluntary “national survey” which will be sent to one-third of Canadians. The Census long form provides essential information needed by all levels of government to make numerous policy decisions ranging from affordable housing to public transit to health services to the new riding redistributions.
Statistics Canada has estimated that the change could cost taxpayers $ 30 million more than the normal census. The Minister claims to have acted due to numerous privacy complaints from Canadians.

Many groups including businesses, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, the Canadian Council on Social Development and individuals such as the former Chief Statistician of Statistics Canada are against the change. The quality of data collected voluntarily becomes unusable and cannot be compared over time. An NDP commissioned Library of Parliament research paper revealed that Canada is abandoning the norm of western countries when it comes to census data collection. The federal long form census is the only comprehensive data collected in Canada to examine in a granular systematic way information on Canadians in their local neighbourhoods.

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