A Day in my Life, with Census Data

To follow up on my last post about census data, and a great conversation with some local librarians a couple of weeks ago, I decided to try to brainstorm the ways census data impacts my daily life. I’m not talking about how I or my colleagues might use it in research, but actual, concrete people, places and things in my day-to-day that would not be the same without good data from the long-form census. The hyperlinks below track to news articles or open letters to the government about the importance of the long-form census for specific reasons. Some of these links are PDFs.

I wake up in my housing co-op (built with support of gov’t programs for affordable housing, informed by data on income and housing).

Wave to my hearing-impaired neighbour and her service dog (supported by disability advocacy based on the census and the census-based Participation and Activity Limitations Survey).

Bike to my bus stop, on bike routes planned with information from the census.

Take transit to work – on an express route planned based on commuting time/mode data and housing density information.

If I arrive a few minutes early, I might stop by a coffee shop on my way in to the office. The store’s business plan was informed by census data, which helped the business owners know they had a market in that neighbourhood.

Arrive at work, which for me and over 12,000 others at my institution alone, is at a University.Universities rely on long-form data for planning programs and projecting enrollment.

Over lunch, read the news. Reporters frequently use publicly-available data from the long form census, as they did in this article this weekend.

Perhaps on the way home I visit some sort of health-care provider. It’s not unheard of. Health services planners and health care provider professional associations use census data to help plan efficient and community-responsive services and care. Medical researchers also rely on census data.

Pick up child at (French language) school and take him the public library (which has a convenient storefront location and services tailored for our community based on the census community profiles)

On our way out of the library/community centre, admire the new mural put in by local artists. Cultural councils and government arts programs rely on census data to provide information about cultural workers in Canada, who are often non-traditionally employed and under-represented in other types of counts.

Arriving home, say hi to our neighbours and admire their new foster-baby. They are foster parents, and the social work system depends on census data to identify and respond to community needs.

After dinner, attend a co-op meeting at which we discuss our federal grant application for energy-efficient upgrades to our building. Such programs for home renovations are generally informed by data about home repair needs and community housing needs.

Your day is different from mine. Perhaps during your day you interact with census data by visiting your religious institution. Perhaps you participate in an immigrant settlement program. Perhaps you are job-seeking or retraining after a layoff. Maybe you do unpaid work to care for an elder in your community or volunteer or eat at a soup kitchen.

To sum up, without good census data:

  • My house might not exist, or
  • might not be getting the needed repairs to the building envelope.
  • Disability advocacy would be set back.
  • I might not have bike routes or
  • convenient public transit in my neighbourhood or connecting to my workplace.
  • Local businesses would have less accurate business plans and thus be more likely to fail.
  • Universities would have a harder time planning for the future.
  • News reporters would lose an accurate source of information.
  • Health services would be less well-planned for my community’s needs.
  • Medical research would be set back.
  • We might not have so many French-language public schooling options in our predominantly-anglophone province.
  • Library planning would be a challenge.
  • Artists and cultural workers would be even less well supported than they already are.
  • Our social work system would be weakened.

And that’s just the things I can think of in one day of my little life.

What things in your life are impacted by census data?

-Greyson

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