Crucial to growth

When a Wal-Mart looks at locating into a community such as Fort Frances, they go to a market research company that uses Stats Canada data that is compiled from the census, among other sources.
The market research company will develop the full demographic breakdown of the community—age, sex, income levels, education levels, disposable income by demographic classification, and household expenditures for everything from toothpaste to adult diapers.
If the information shows a good model for establishing a business, they will then take the next steps to locate in that community.
Similarly, condo developers, chain restaurants, motels, and retail chains use the data to determine if their businesses will be a fit for the community.
When a developer approaches Rainy River Future Development Corp., one of the first tools the corporation has is the information about the residents of the district. Without it, every economic development officer in Canada would operate with their hands tied behind their backs.
The government is now considering doing away with the long census form, and what district residents have to understand is that funding for education, health care, social services and protection is dependant on the information they supply the federal government.
Without that information, it’s more difficult for the school boards to adapt to changes in birth rates and adjust staffing of schools, just as it’s hard for Riverside Health Care Facilities to plan for their needs as the population grows older.
The long census form provides information about ethnic backgrounds of people and where they live across the country. It enables a retailer to change the mix of products in a particular store to meet the needs of the people in his neighborhood that will be different from a store only a mile away in a large city.
Closer to home, the long census helps validate information about First Nations communities. Just as it does in every community across Canada, the census looks at educational levels, needs for health care assistance, poverty, the need for social housing and more.
Ban Ki-Moon, the Secretary General of the United Nations had this to say about census data: “Population data helps leaders and policy-makers to make informed decisions about policies and programs to reduce poverty and hunger, and advance education, health and gender equality,”
“Everyone counts,” and “to be counted is to become visible,” especially for women and young people, he added.
The Conservative government has time to change their course of direction. Maintaining the long census form is crucial to growth and good policies for all Canadians.