Thursday, July 8, 2010

Canada Census -- Future Access

Daily we hear charges that we are spending our grandchildren's quality of life by running up huge debts they will have to repay. Whether or not this will turn out to be true remains to be seen -- although some of us will probably not live long enough to find out.

Another battle about our grandchildren's ability to do family history research is more quietly being determined now. Changes are now being made in how various national censuses are being taken that will have a big impact on what records will be available to our grandchildren as they seek to continue our current research efforts. Statistical sampling and short forms for many if not most families are being considered in the US. Of course the 2010 census here is not scheduled to become available until 2082 under current regulations aimed at protecting the privacy of those who give information and hopefully thereby increasing the participation rate. Those of you who recently filled out the 2010 census may have noticed that the data collected was rather minimal compared to what we often find in the early 20th Century census records.

However, the current hot spot for this debate is Canada. One the eve of the release of the 1911 Census--currently scheduled for next month -- a new law unanimously passed would require that those filling out both the 2006 and 2011 censuses to "opt in" before their results could ever be released instead of them being made available in 92 years. Genealogy groups are trying to rally support for reconsideration. Also it appears that most Canadians will be given the option of submitting a short form that would not contain much of the information we are accustomed to finding in such returns.

It appears that those advocating privacy are pushing aside the rights of informed citizens to know about their ancestors. Will this trend continue? Should it? And how will our grandchildren find out about us if it does?

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