Census Day 2006 is scheduled for Tuesday, 16 May. For the first time in the 340 years Censuses have been conducted in the territory that was destined to become Canada, respondents will be asked to provide consent for the release of information they provide, 92 years after collection. Until now, no such consent was required. The question that will appear on the Census questionnaire is as follows:
The following question is for all persons who usually live here including those less than 15 years old.
If you are answering on behalf of other people, please consult each person.
The Statistics Act guarantees the confidentiality of your census information. Only if you mark "YES" to this question will your personal information be made public, 92 years after the 2006 Census. If you mark "NO" or leave the answer blank, your personal information will never be made publicly available.
Does this person agree to make his/her 2006 Census information available for public release in 2098 (92 years after the census)?
___ Yes ___ No
Inclusion of this 'informed consent' provision in Censuses to be conducted from 2006 was the price forced upon genealogists and historians seeking to regain public access to Historic Census records to which existing legislation already stated we were entitled. We had been advised that unless this provision was accepted the government would not present the Bill (S-18) to end our seven-year campaign to regain public access to Historic Census records in accordance with provisions of the Access to Information and Privacy Acts.
Why should you answer YES to the 'informed consent' question on Census? The greatest value of Census records to researchers is in their 'completeness'. If significant numbers of respondents answer negatively, or do not answer this question at all, it will destroy the completeness of the records, and thus their value to genealogical or historical researchers will be forever destroyed. If certain kinds of persons do not answer this question, research based on 100% nominal census data will be biased and its value therefore compromised. The following list shows only a few examples of where Historic Census has been used successfully to benefit people today:
- For genealogical research. To find information about ancestors you may or may not have previously known existed. To find the make-up of their families and how they evolved through successive Censuses. To learn where they lived, their occupations, when and where they were born, ethnic origins, education and religion, etc.
- For sociological, demographic, economic and historic research: historical information on the social structure of Canada - sizes of families, age groupings of children, grandparents and siblings at home, servants and other household attendants, education, religious affiliation, race, ethnic origins, housing, business and agriculture production, immigration, patterns of migration, etc. Historical Census data, especially long-term Census data series, allow us to research patterns of economic and social inequality, and to examine the roots of important family patterns such as living alone, single-parent families and blended families.
- To verify age, or date and place of birth where other sources are unavailable, in order to establish eligibility for pensions, etc.
- To prove identity to obtain legal documents, i.e. passports, birth certificates.
- To determine descendancy to settle estates where no will has been found.
- To provide clues to genetically inherited diseases or disabilities.
- To show proof of residency in order to prove land or property title.
- To establish legal entitlement as a member of a group, i.e. as a Native Indian.
- To verify group residency or land use to settle Aboriginal land claims.
- To verify current owners of properties, or heirs of same, where property is to be sold for non-payment of taxes.
- To establish or verify original owners of rights of way, mineral rights, or foreshore rights.
- To ensure your place in the history of Canada
Ensure your place in the history of Canada. On Census Day 16 May 2006, answer YES to allow your information to be made available to your descendants in 2098. Ask everyone you know to do so as well.
For more information visit the Post 1901 Census Project website at www.globalgenealogy.com/Census
Gordon A. Watts firstname.lastname@example.org
Co-chair, Canada Census Committee
Port Coquitlam, British Columbia
Read my column, 'Gordon Watts Reports' at