Coquitlam – Local New Democrat MP Fin Donnelly and Coquitlam City Councillor Selina Robinson are sounding the alarm over the Conservative government’s proposed changes to the mandatory long form census in the wake of Statistics Canada’s Chief Statistician Munir Sheikh’s resignation.

“The long form census collects important information used by all levels of government, on issues such as affordable housing, health care, public transit and other essential services”, said Donnelly. “As a former city councillor and now as a Member of Parliament, I recognize the importance this data has in informing governance decisions at both the federal and local levels.”

By making the long-from census optional, statisticians, including Munir Shiekh, claim that the data collected from a voluntary survey cannot be a substitute for a mandatory census. The results will ultimately skew municipal, provincial and federal funding allocations which use the census to determine population needs.

Fin Donnelly is joined by Coquitlam Councillor Selina Robinson, who is concerned about the implications of abandoning the mandatory long form census for Coquitlam.

“As a local politician, I am concerned how this will affect our decision making" said Selina Robinson. "We rely on census information to help us with decisions on services for seniors, recreation, children's programming and urban planning. The data from Statistics Canada allows us to be accountable to the electorate. Otherwise we run the risk of making our policies in a vacuum.”

Many groups oppose the change, including the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, the Canadian Council on Social Development and the United Way Canada.

“It is time for the Conservative government to reverse the changes to the mandatory long form census and to govern on the basis of fact,” said Donnelly.