Why does the census matter?
The history of the census in Canada dates back to 1666 in the colony of New France. In 1765, just after the conquest of Quebec by the British in the Seven Years War, the census data including religious affiliation first appeared as assessing the delicate balance between Catholics and Protestants became a pressing concern. Since the first post-Confederation census in 1871, religious affiliation has been recorded once every ten years and will again be a part of the now optional long form questionnaire given to approximately 32% of households in the 2011 Census.
Census figures collected are used for a wide variety of purposes including government legislation, and to justify the following policies, which are detailed by the Canadian Secular Alliance
- Subsidizing faith schools across Canada
- Granting charity status for organizations that contribute nothing beyond religious services to their own members and missionary activities
- The recitation of religious prayers before government meetings
- Invoking a divinity in our National Anthem
- Invoking the “Supremacy of God” in the preamble of our “Charter of Rights and Freedoms”
- Continued high number of hours dedicated to religious broadcasting
- Specific consultation at government and local level with ‘faith communities’ over and above other groups within society
- Continued privileges for religious groups in laws related to religious accommodations law and other legislation
In addition, if the number of people who appear to be religious is inflated, policies regarding service delivery, equality work and many other areas will be affected. Local authorities use census data when making decisions about resource allocation and the types of organisation which they want to deliver services.
See the problems with the question.