Trudeau promises long form census to Surrey, Lower Mainland’s fastest growing city

Speaking at the Surrey Board of Trade’s Women in Business Awards ceremony Thursday, the Liberal leader vowed better stats gathering from a federal level

Justin Trudeau speaks at the Surrey Board of Trade’s sixth annual Women in Business Awards ceremony on March 5 | Photo: Amy Leong

Speaking in a city estimated to be adding as many as 1,200 people a month to its population, Justin Trudeau reiterated his pledge to bring back the mandatory long-form census, to help Surrey and other fast-growing municipalities better meet their current needs and plan for the future.

The mandatory long-form census was scrapped by the federal government prior to the 2011 Statistics Canada census. The Surrey Board of Trade is among many business organizations, including the Canadian Cha mber of Commerce, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business and the Canadian Economics Association, that have asked the government to reinstate it.

“We need to reinstate the long-form census so we can give cities like Surrey the information they need,” said Trudeau, who was the guest speaker at the 2015 Surrey Women in Business Awards on March 5.

“This is the 21st century,” he said. “You can’t imagine any business in [this] room or anywhere across the country that would make a decision knowing less about their clients and their customers and the people they serve. And this government has done exactly that – it’s chosen ignorance over understanding.”

Surrey Board of Trade chief executive officer Anita Huberman said she was pleased to hear Trudeau’s stance on the issue.

“This has been on the Surrey Board of Trade’s advocacy push for the past year. It is important because our Surrey businesses, local and provincial governments, economists, urban and community researchers, policy analysts, sociologists and other scholars in the humanities and social sciences … rely on the mandatory long-form census for solidly representative and accurate data,” Huberman said.

Earlier this week Bill C-626, Liberal MP Ted Hsu private member’s bill to restore the census by was defeated. The compulsory long-form census in 2006 had a 93% response rate. The voluntary one in 2011 had a 68% response rate, even though more surveys were sent to more homes.

Trudeau spoke on a number of business issues at the event including the Harper government’s introduction of income splitting, which lets couples with children under 18 years receive a tax benefit of up to $2,000 by allowing higher-earning spouses to shift $50,000 in income to lower-earning spouses.

Trudeau said he is not in favour of income splitting, because it disproportionately benefits wealthy families, but stopped short of saying he would abolish it if elected Prime Minister in this year’s federal election.

“There’s no reason why middle-class families should be paying more to give Mr. Harper’s family, or mine, a $2,000 tax break.”

The Liberal Party leader and MP from Papineau, Quebec, also noted a recent CIBC Economics report that said its index of Canadian employment quality is at a 25-year low.

“Part-time jobs are growing faster than the number of full-time jobs,” Trudeau added, “Canadians are losing their faith in their ability to move up the economic ladder.”