Volume 93, Issue 35

Tuesday, November 2, 1999


New study aims to put doctors online

Journals to boost subscriptions

Guelph U's land plans anger students

Sculpture to be displayed on hill

2001 Census to include questions on sexuality

Theft and crank call-filled week


Buzz Mecca

2001 Census to include questions on sexuality

By Nina Chiarelli
Gazette Staff

Who you live with just became as important as where you live, thanks to a proposal by Statistics Canada to change its census questions.

Statistics Canada has formulated three new potential questions relating to sexual orientation which are destined for the 2001 Census, said Benoit LaRoche, media relations officer for Statistics Canada. He said the questions which have been tested in past censuses address the question of co-habitation, not sexual orientation.

"We have several versions in preparation for the census in 2001," he said. LaRoche explained Statistics Canada has been working since 1991 on various questions to be included in the census.

As a result of last month's rulings from the Supreme Court concerning benefits for same sex couples, he said data accumulated from the new questions would be useful.

The three questions, which were tested in the 1996 Census, address co-habitation and require the respondent to classify themselves as either "same sex," in a "common-law" situation or "other," as opposed to "married." LaRoche said only one of the three potential questions will find themselves on the census, as each addresses co-habitation.

The questions, which are now before cabinet, must be approved before they can be included, LaRoche said.

Professor of sociology Roderic Beaujot, who sits on the Advisory Committee for Demographic Statistics and Studies at Statistics Canada, said his committee is responsible for giving advice on what types of questions should be on the census.

"What we found was there was a demand to make explicit recognition for same sex relationships," Beaujot said. He said it was necessary that specific questions at least be available on the census.

LaRoche agreed and said questions on the census are driven by the need to install governmental policies, programs or legislation. "Many legislations have made laws concerning same sex relationships. Policy makers will need information to determine the impact on changes of law, in terms of pension and Medicare and so on," LaRoche said. He added many health departments were interested in the data.

While the questions do address co-habitation, LaRoche said questions as to sexual orientation would be too intrusive to be included in the census. "Since there's no policy need for sexual orientation questions, we don't do it," he said.

As many areas of society, such as the gay community and advertising agencies, could be interested in such information, sociology professor Douglas Baer said there is a certain legitimacy in representing these types of questions.

"Certainly demographic transition is an important question," Baer said. Yet he added he didn't think it was a burning issue for the general public.

To Contact The News Department:

Copyright The Gazette 1999