Archived - Commissioner of Official Languages launches investigation into Government of Canada decision to eliminate the long-form questionnaire for 2011 Census

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OTTAWA, July 12, 2010 — Commissioner of Official Languages Graham Fraser announced today that he is launching an investigation into Industry Canada’s decision to eliminate the long-form questionnaire from the 2011 census.

"It is extremely important to see whether the government respected its obligations under the Official Languages Act when it made this decision," Mr. Fraser said.

The Commissioner is concerned about the possible impact this decision could have on the vitality of official language communities and on the application of the Official Languages Act.

“When it comes to making decisions on offering services in both official languages and to evaluating the size of official language communities, information about people’s mother tongue, language spoken in the home and knowledge of both official languages are all used,” said Mr. Fraser. “The short-form questionnaire asks only about mother tongue, which would see some people, especially newcomers, effectively counted out.”

Mr. Fraser said he was concerned that replacing the long-form census questionnaire with a new, voluntary National Household Survey might not allow federal institutions to determine adequately  the size of official language communities in small, rural municipalities, or produce data consistent with census information collected over several decades.

“This credible national source of data has been a critical tool for the government to assess the vitality of official language communities," Fraser said. "Federal departments and agencies, along with the communities themselves, have used this information to evaluate how they have evolved and determine where services need to be provided in the language of the minority community."

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For more information, please contact:

Robin Cantin
Director, Strategic Communications and Production
Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages
Telephone: 613-995-0374
Cellular: 613-324-0999
Toll-free: 1-877-996-6368

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