One hundred years from now, challenges await genealogist Melanie Arscott’s successor.
Monday marks the start of census season, with Canadians starting to receive the 2011 short-form questionnaire and the new — and controversial — National Household Survey.
“We rely on vital statistics and census information to tell us about the people and the places in our family’s history. And when those details are not available it’s what we call ‘hitting a brick wall,’” Arscott said about the impact the voluntary NHS will have as it replaces the mandatory long-form census of years past.
Arscott, president of the Victoria Genealogical Society, says the more in-depth information, which has been collected in some form since confederation in 1867, is essential.
“It has more information just about the people and the way they live … It’s so much more than just a number,” she said of what the compulsory short-form census will now provide.
Because the NHS is voluntary, even Statistics Canada, which administers the census, is doubtful it will see a strong return of the surveys.
“With … an anticipated response rate of 50 per cent, approximately 16 per cent of the Canadian population will complete the National Household Survey, compared with 19 per cent under a mandatory census long form,” read an October release from Statistics Canada.
“Given its anticipated lower overall number of respondents, the National Household Survey will … have a sampling error that is slightly higher (worse) than would have been achieved from a mandatory long-form census.”
-Census forms are due back by July 29.
-Aggregate information releases will begin starting in late 2011 through October 2012.
-Not filling out your form or providing false information on your census can lead to a $500 fine, imprisonment for up to three months, or both.