Census information vital for municipalities

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Residents of the Peace Country count as the 2021 Census undertaken by Statistics Canada began May 3 and runs through May 11.

The collection of information by the federal government department, which occurs every five years, is essential and mandatory.

Sexsmith Mayor Kate Potter explained why the information matters to municipalities ranging from Grande Prairie to the County of Grande Prairie and M.D. of Greenview, to all the surrounding towns and villages.

“The census not only helps us (the municipality) plan better, as far as when we think about services that are needed or available,” Potter said. “It gives us accurate demographics, so for internal planning and budgets, that is helpful. But it is also for funding from other programs, whether it is from the federal government or the province.

“(Those programs) often depend on the census information in order to gain an accurate picture. Really for a municipality like Sexsmith or any municipality, it is critical to have those accurate numbers and make sure that when we get funding for things, it is the appropriate amount of funding for the size of the community that we are. We do really encourage everyone to fill them out.”

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Statistics Canada’s collected information is used to plan services to support employment, schools, public transportation and hospitals by various levels of government. The federal and provincial governments also use the information to determine the amount of money municipalities will receive when allocating funds per capita. The information can play a factor in determining electoral boundaries.

While some people may have concerns about how the information is used, all identifying information gleaned by the census must remain confidential and not be shared or given away.

“I understand the privacy issue,” Potter said. “People want to be and are careful about the information they share, but things like this actually help.

“When we get information from a census, none of the personal details are shared with us, but it does help us have a better understanding, even for things like programming and what we want to offer in our community.”

This year’s questionnaire features five categories which include:

• Family and demographic concepts, and activities of daily living (demographic concepts, sex at birth and gender, activities of daily living)

• Immigration, ethnocultural diversity and languages in Canada (immigration and citizenship, place of birth of person/parents, ethnic or cultural origins, population groups, religion, language, minority language educational rights)

• Indigenous peoples (returning content, membership within a Métis organization or Settlement, enrolment under an Inuit land claims agreement)

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• Education, labour, commuting, and Veterans (education, labour market conditions, commuting to work, Veteran and military service)

• Income and expenditures, and housing (income and expenditures, housing).

Potter added all the information paints a complete picture of a town, city, or rural municipality’s make up makes it easier for local governments to meet the needs of their citizens.

“When we have an accurate picture of who is actually living in our community,” Potter said. “Of course, (in a smaller community) we know through personal experience, and we interact with people, but to have a better representation of who is in our community helps us to come to some decisions and conclusions about what we want to offer and what we want to bring to the community. “

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