TORONTO (AP) — Canada's new Liberal government began rolling back former Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper's policies on Thursday by resurrecting the mandatory long-form census survey.
Navdeep Bains, the minister of innovation, science and economic development, said Thursday the Conservatives canceled the mandatory portion of the survey for ideological reasons. He said the Liberals will reinstate it in order to produce "reliable, good-quality data."
Bains suggested the Conservatives replaced it with the voluntary National Household Survey in 2010 because they considered the data an excuse to waste money on programs. The Harper government cited privacy concerns at the time.
"We know the history of the past government. They were very much focused on ideology. We're focused on sound evidence-based policies. We want to make sure we're driving good policies based on good evidence based on a good quality data and that's what this announcement is about," Bains said.
Bains noted the participation rate on the voluntary survey was 77 percent compared to 93.5 for the last mandatory census.
The census is handled by Statistics Canada, a government agency. Former chief statistician Munir Sheikh resigned his position in 2010 after Conservative Industry Minister Tony Clement suggested that bureaucrats supported the idea of a voluntary survey as a suitable substitute for the mandatory long-form questionnaire.
New Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau officially took office Wednesday after winning the election last month. Trudeau, the son of the late Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, has vowed to restore his father's liberal legacy, which has been under siege during 10 years of Conservative rule by Harper.