Statistics Canada explores census changes to more accurately reflect Canada’s diversity
Statistics Canada says it will consider changing its data collection practices to better account for Canadians who identify as members of multiple visible minorities – people who, for years, have been grouped into unique categories, regardless of their background. origins.
In 2016, 232,375 Canadians selected at least two visible minority groups when they completed their census forms.
But a detailed breakdown of this part of the population has never been made available, leading some to suggest that governments are drafting laws and policies based on incomplete data.
“It was a little shocking to find out that we didn’t have the numbers and that no one had thought of putting them together,” said Godlove Ngwafusi, a representative of the African-Canadian Association in Ottawa and a federal official. for a long time.
A black person who belongs to another visible minority group, for example, would not currently be counted in Statistics Canada’s count of Black Canadians.
Ngwafusi said this could lead to an underestimation of the number of blacks living in the country – which could lead some organizations to mistakenly assume that they have a representative number of black employees on their staff.
“Diluting the numbers means it weakens the position of black people who are trying to integrate and move forward in the system,” Ngwafusi said.
Employment equity laws are based on accurate statistics
Various laws and equity initiatives depend on detailed figures on the racial makeup of the Canadian workforce.
Employers in federally regulated sectors are required to have employment equity programs that actively seek to increase the number of employees from traditionally under-represented groups.
Hugh Scher, a Toronto-based labor lawyer, said the confusing category of “many visible minorities” makes it difficult to hold the government accountable for its progress in reducing inequalities in the workplace.
Scher is representing black officials in a possible class action lawsuit against the federal government for alleged discrimination.
“It basically prevents the government from responding with credibility as to the real numbers because they don’t know and can’t know, based on this glaring mistake in the census,” Scher told CBC News. .
People who identify as Métis “may effectively lose the ability to be considered in any measurement or assessment of the under-representation of this particular group.”
The Liberal government this week announced plans to revise federal employment equity laws. These laws also group visible minority workers into one group, with the exception of Indigenous peoples.
Statistics Canada says more detailed breakdown to come
Statistics Canada says a more detailed breakdown of Canada’s Métis population could be provided based on data collected during the 2021 census, although a report is unlikely to be released until October 2022.
The Toronto Star first reported on Statistics Canada’s plan to improve the way it counts visible minorities.
Statistics Canada says it recognizes the need for a clearer picture of Canada’s Métis population.
“We hope to disseminate and collect more information so that we can tell the story in a more nuanced and diverse way,” said Tina Chiu, director of diversity statistics and socio-cultural statistics at Statistics Canada.
Chiu said any future changes in the way Statistics Canada collects and reports data on Métis people will be phased in, as a key goal of the census is to monitor long-term trends.
“That is why we hope to make these changes, like the modifications, but also keep in mind that the purpose of the census is also to monitor trends and see how Canadian society develops over time,” added Chiu.
The census includes the following visible minority categories: Arabs, Blacks, Chinese, Filipinos, Japanese, Koreans, Latin Americans, Southeast Asians, South Asians and West Asians.
Another catch-all category – “not included elsewhere” – is available for census respondents who write in responses about their visible minority status. There were 132,090 people grouped into this category in the 2016 census.