Statistics Canada revises its question on ethnic origin in the census
Statistics Canada officials estimate that twice as many people could have identified themselves as Jewish in the 2016 census if the questionnaire had been formulated in a slightly different way.
T he number of people who identify as ethnically Jewish has been declining since 2001, but the 53.6% plunge between 2011 and 2016 far exceeded the declines recorded in previous census cycles.
If response trends had been maintained, the census would have identified between 270,000 and 298,000 Jewish people in the country in 2016, compared to the estimated 144,000 Jewish respondents, according to a recent Statistics Canada technical report. .
The federal agency argues that the recorded decline can not be explained by deaths, emigration or errors in the compilation of data.
The decline is rather attributable to the reformulation of the question on ethnic and cultural origins, it is estimated.
The Jewish mention had been removed from the list of examples accompanying this question, which might have led some respondents to believe that it concerned only the origins of a particular country.
Ethnic and cultural groups rely on the census to get as accurate a picture as possible of the number of members of their community, but the data serve many other purposes.
Elections Canada, for example, referred to the census on Monday to explain its decision not to change the federal election date this fall, even though it coincides with a holiday observed by practicing Jews who will not be able to vote or participate in campaigns. day.
In preparation for the next census in 2021, Statistics Canada has decided to test a new version of the question, which provides not ethnic examples, but a brief description of their different types. more than one link to “an exhaustive list of more than 400 origins” for respondents needing additional help.
“This approach could mitigate the suggestion effect proposed by specific examples,” argues the technical report.
The complete removal of examples, however, is not an option, as it could lead to other risks such as the fact that respondents do not understand the essence of the question.
“We are a country that accommodates multiple identities, but measuring these multiple identities is becoming more and more complex,” says Jack Jedwab, director of the Canadian Studies Association.