September 14, 2011

Canada Census Exceeds Online Target

More than half of the questionnaires returned in Canada’s 2011 Census (54.4%) were completed online, exceeding the government’s target of 40%, according to a Canadian Press report published in the Globe and Mail newspaper. The success of the online option may offer lessons for U.S. Census Bureau officials, who say they will offer an online option in the 2020 Census.

A Statistics Canada official quoted in the report said the agency had received mandatory short-form questionnaires from 98.1% of Canadian households, an increase of a percentage point from the 2006 Census.

In a break with the past, the 2011 Census only included the short form with basic questions. There had been concerns that the response rate could dip, in part because of confusion over the government’s controversial decision to drop the mandatory long form from the census count and switch to a voluntary survey to collect more detailed household information. But Statistics Canada official Marc Hamel said there were “no major issues” with response rates. Statisticians are still analyzing the quality and completeness of the responses.

Canadians received their census forms in the mail in early May and were asked to return them within 10 days. The first data from the Canadian census will be released next February.