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FEWO Committee News Release

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Standing Committee on the Status of Women
house of commons
K1A 0A6

Comité permanent de la condition féminine

For immediate release



Ottawa, February 17, 2011 -

The Standing Committee on the Status of Women presented a report in the House of Commons on February 17, 2011, regarding their study on the cancellation of the mandatory long form Census and its impact on women’s equality in Canada, as well as its impact on unpaid work. They recommended the immediate reinstatement of the mandatory long form Census for 2011; the reinstatement of the questions on unpaid work; and that Statistics Canada conduct a comprehensive public consultation on the possibility of expanding the unpaid work questions for the 2016 Census.

”Witnesses from every sector – private, public and non-profit – asked for the reinstatement of the mandatory long form Census,” said the Honourable Hedy Fry, Chair of the Committee. ” They agreed that the National Household Survey cannot produce data with the same detail, scope or reliability. They also agreed that it will only reach 50 percent of the population compared with 94 percent for the Census, and that it will skew the rate of response from different sectors of society, especially marginalized and low income communities”.

Evidence and submissions by witnesses to the Committee overwhelmingly made the case that the mandatory long-form Census will supply essential data from all sectors of society, and therefore will inform good public policy, including and especially those relating to women. As well, the Committee recognized that a voluntary survey is unlikely to provide the same reliability or continuity of detailed information that allows for gender-based analysis of existing programs.

The Committee also considered whether the removal of questions on unpaid work from the Census and the voluntary National Household Survey would jeopardize Canada’s compliance with its international obligations under the Beijing Platform for Action, to which Canada is committed.

”Statistics Canada has been widely recognized as the gold standard around the world in providing accurate responses to complex challenges. It was as a result of Canadian statistical data that the Beijing Platform of 2005 began to look at women’s equality from the perspective of diversity, Aboriginal, immigrant and refugee status. As a signatory to the Beijing Platform and Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, Canada must honour its commitment. Renewal of the mandatory long form Census will impede our ability to do that,” added Chair Fry.

Witnesses were concerned that the questions on unpaid work were not sufficiently precise or expansive to understand the full nature and diversity of unpaid work, especially in today’s society. As a result, the Committee also recommends that Statistics Canada undertake extensive consultation with a view to expanding these questions before the 2016 Census.

This report is the result of a motion which was adopted by the Committee on October 5, 2010, which reads:

That the Committee undertake a study on the cancellation of the mandatory long form Census and its impact on women’s equality in Canada; as well as the removal of questions on unpaid work – formerly listed under Question #33 in the 2006 mandatory long-form Census – from the new voluntary National Household Survey; and that the study take into account the United Nations Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action to which Canada committed.

The Committee’s report can be found on the web at:

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For more information, please contact:
Marie-France Renaud, Clerk of the Standing Committee on the Status of Women
Tel: (613) 995-6119