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Finance Minister Wes Sheridan
P.E.I. Finance Minister Wes Sheridan is calling on the federal government to reinstate the mandatory long-form census due to significant gaps of statistical information for Prince Edward Island.
Sheridan says due to the voluntary nature of the 2011 National Household Survey, P.E.I.’s census data this year is incomplete.
“About a third of our communities are not going to be included in our stats because we don’t have sufficient information for those areas,” Sheridan said in an interview Friday.
“We don’t even have demographics now for 36 communities across P.E.I.”
The province released the 2012 provincial annual statistical review Friday, which provides a snapshot of the Island’s economy, population and social makeup.
This is the first statistical review since a change in the way Statistics Canada performs its census. The federal government replaced the mandatory, long-form census with a voluntary survey in 2011.
At that time, Sheridan raised concern the change would affect P.E.I.’s data.
With one of the lowest response rates in the country – 60.4 per cent – Sheridan says now that’s just what has happened.
“We did write to (federal treasury board president) Tony Clement originally and talked about our concerns, and our concerns are exactly as we predicted,” Sheridan said.
That’s why the province is now once again calling on the feds to reverse this policy and reinstate the mandatory long-form census.
He was critical of the Harper government for making the change in the first place, pointing out the voluntary survey cost $30 million more to administer than its long-form predecessor in 2006.
When Statistics Canada released the data from the 2011 survey in March, a warning was included to not compare the 2011 data with results from the census in 2006 due to potentially higher non-response rates.
The agency said the National Household Survey was most likely to differ from the mandatory long-form census in areas of fewer than 25,000 people.
Missing from 36 smaller communities in P.E.I. is demographic information such as ages, births and deaths. Other detailed information such as ethnic background and education information is also unavailable for those smaller communities.
Sheridan says the province has sufficient data to make provincial funding and planning decisions, but says the missing detailed stats will have a negative impact on municipalities and businesses for future community planning.
“All of this information is so informative when you’re trying to make good planning decisions and it makes it very difficult when you don’t have that,” Sheridan said.
The province is drafting its concerns complete with details about what information is now missing from P.E.I.’s statistical data in a letter to the federal government.
“It’s not really something that we expect from our Canadian government and we’ll push them to return to the mandatory census.”