Content of census questionnaire
Prior to each census of the population, Statistics Canada undertakes a three to four-year process to review the content of the census questionnaire by consulting with users of census data, testing, and developing the content of the questionnaire to ensure the content reflects changes in Canadian society. Factors considered in developing content include legislative requirements for information, program and policy needs, the burden on the respondent in answering the questions, privacy concerns, input from consultations and testing, data quality, costs and operational considerations, historical comparability and the availability of alternate data sources.
Leading up to the census, Statistics Canada held content consultations on the census questionnaire, which included receiving submissions, meeting and having conference calls with various data users, such as federal government departments and agencies, provincial and territorial government departments, local governments, the general public, libraries, academia, special interest groups, the private sector and licensed distributors of census data. Consultations for the 2011 Census content began in April 2007 and planning of the 2011 Census operations began in 2008.
Before each census, Statistics Canada tests the questionnaire content, processing and collection systems.
Extensive qualitative testing was conducted on all questions proposed for inclusion in the census. The first phases of content testing occurred from October 2007 to June 2008 with additional testing for specific content (e.g., education and income questions) taking place between August 2008 and February 2009. These tests were designed to obtain feedback from respondents on their overall impressions and reactions to the proposed content and questions, to test the cognitive processes of respondents in answering the questions, to test the respondents' ability and willingness to answer the questions, and to obtain feedback on the proposed data collection methodology.
A content test, the focus of this report, was conducted in May 2008 to evaluate the proposed content changes. The test involved approximately 26,000 dwellings in the 10 provinces using a split-panel sample design.
A major census test was conducted in May 2009 involving approximately 125,000 dwellings in Montréal, Quebec and Red Deer, Alberta. The results were used to fine-tune the questionnaires, the methodology and the systems to be used for the 2011 Census.
Content of the National Household Survey
Information previously proposed for collection by the census mandatory long-form questionnaire will be collected as part of the new voluntary National Household Survey (NHS). Statistics Canada will conduct and release the results of the NHS applying the same methods and standards used for all of its surveys.
In addition to questions that were previously asked on the 2006 Census long-form questionnaire (except for questions on unpaid household activities), the NHS will have new content related to journey to work (vehicle occupancy, commute time and mode of transportation), income (child care costs, spousal and child support payments, capital gains and subsidized housing) and religion.
The NHS questions are posted on the Statistics Canada website.
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