Jul 012016

Many thanks to Steve.

His Comment  posted on   2016-06-29   Democracy, the Rule of Law. Victory over StatsCan surveys?

makes it possible to construct the TIMELINE for  StatsCan’s

  • mandatory,
  • then voluntary,
  • then back to mandatory,

status of certain surveys.

The question Victory over StatsCan surveys?   is premised on the Reddit posting that reports the letter received from StatsCan by the citizen who told them he was suing them for harassment over a Survey.

Two weeks later StatsCan sent a letter to the citizen, saying that surveys are voluntary.   The legal action against StatsCan was thereby brought to a halt.


As it turns out, the StatsCan letter is not the end of the story.

Steve writes:

Please visit this Stats Can webpage   http://www.statcan.gc.ca/eng/survey/faq#a3

It outlines their view of legality of various surveys. Along with the Census of Population and the Agricultural census, it still says we are “required” to participate in the Labour Force Survey, Business surveys, Agricultural Surveys………..”pursuant to the Statistics Act.”

Then it says “For other Stats Canada surveys, participation is voluntary.”

Within the last 6 months or less, Stats Canada has reformatted their website. There was a section in the former format that clearly stated “All surveys are voluntary.”


First, the TIMELINE.   And then the response to mandatory (or voluntary) to participate “pursuant to the Statistics Act.”

In the following response to the question of  “Citizens have to participate pursuant to the Statistics Act”   I rolled everything into one:   

I think I have covered all the bases now, and in one document (below).

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –



Re Steve’s statement: Within the last 6 months or less, Stats Canada has reformatted their website. There was a section in the former format that clearly stated “All surveys are voluntary.”

SO the TIMELINE looks something like this:


In the Time leading up to March 2016, which includes Oct 2015:

StatsCan website says the Labour Force Survey is mandatory.

OCT 28, 2015. (“8 months ago”)   Reddit:

A frustrated Canadian asks: Has anyone successfully sued Stats Can for harassment?

Statistics Canada has been harassing us to fill out a survey, calling several times per day and refusing to stop even though we have requested them to stop calling several times now.   This is not a census  . . .

MARCH 2016 (“4 months ago”)  Reddit:

The frustrated Canadian updates.

I ended up contacting a lawyer and advised Stats Can that we were seeking legal action and Stats Can sent us a letter a couple of weeks later confirming that the Labour Force Survey is voluntary and have since stopped harassing us on the phone. Which seems to have resolved the problem for us, at least.

MARCH 2016, approximately:

consistent with their letter to the frustrated Canadian, StatsCan changed their website.

Steve read the

section . . . that clearly stated “All surveys are voluntary.”

JUNE 2, 2016

Steve’s information source:  Please visit this Stats Can webpage http://www.statcan.gc.ca/eng/survey/faq#a3

I (Sandra) did.  When was it last changed?   From the bottom left of page:

Date modified:  2016-06-02

Steve records:

it still says we are “required” to participate in (specified surveys)


See   Are StatsCan “surveys” mandatory?   The answer is still No,  Statscan Surveys are voluntary.

StatsCan threatens Canadians with prosecution for acts that are completely legal.

One explanation of their actions:  When threatened with the prospect of explaining their actions to a judge, they changed their tune, Surveys became Voluntary (The Reddit posting about the letter from StatsCan and Steve’s observation of the statement on the StatsCan website).

The consequence is that the Court action is wiped out.  The citizen who started legal action against them for harassment has no claim against them, because they replied:  the survey is voluntary.

StatsCan then, intentionally or not, waits a few months,  before changing their decree back to:  specified Surveys are Mandatory.

It seems to me the story is this:

StatsCan blew it when they got in bed with the wrong people.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –  – – –



StatsCan does not explain, it just asserts.

JoAnne recorded the explanation she was given.  It is consistent with what I’ve heard from others.    From   2014-05-26 Census, Surveys & Lockheed Martin. More concise argument? (conversation with JoAnne)

StatsCan offers 3 points:

  1. Statistics Canada must collect and compile statistics on various subjects.  These subjects are identified in Section 22 of the Act.  The Labour Force Survey is authorized by paragraph 22 (h) – Labour and Employment.
  2. Section 8 permits the minister responsible for Statistics Canada to order that participation in a survey be on a voluntary basis.  No such order has been signed for the Labour Force Survey, therefore, participation is mandatory.
  3. Section 31 sets out penalties for providing false answers or for refusing to participate in a mandatory survey.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

However,  their points do not make the case:

RE  StatsCan Point 1:

Statistics Canada must collect and compile statistics on various subjects.  These subjects are identified in Section 22 of the Act.   The Labour Force Survey is authorized by paragraph 22 (h) – Labour and Employment.

Agreed – – yes,  the Act gives them the authority.   Section 22 says:  the Chief Statistician shall, under the direction of the Minister, collect, compile, analyse, abstract and publish statistics in relation to  . . .   (labour and employment).

No problem there.   But note that the granting of authority does not give them the right to override Laws.  They still have to do their work WITHIN THE CONFINES OF THE LAW.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

RE:  StatsCan Point 2:   (repetition of argument made earlier)

Section 8 permits the minister to order that participation in a survey be on a voluntary basis.  

That is a very contentious interpretation of Section 8.

  • It has not been subject to interpretation by a Court of Law   AND
  • it does not stand up to scrutiny.

Section 8 says:

where such information (i.e. a survey) is requested section 31 (the penalties for non-compliance with a census)  does not apply in respect of a refusal or neglect to furnish the information.

StatsCan says that Section 8 makes all Surveys mandatory but the Minister has the option of making some surveys voluntary through an order-in-council.

Section 8 says the opposite.  

StatsCan says the words mean:  Mandatory:   you have to fill in the survey and if you don’t, you can be prosecuted, fined and sent to jail  (the penalties for not filling in a census).

Which is a ludicrous interpretation of the words.

The precise words are:   section 31 does not apply in respect of a refusal.   Which makes surveys voluntary.   Which also happens to be the title of Section 8,  “Voluntary Surveys”.

The process prescribed by Law for making a Survey mandatory is through an Order-In-Council.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

RE  StatsCan Point 3:

Section 31 sets out penalties for providing false answers or for refusing to participate in a mandatory survey.

Section 31 of the Statistics Act does not say that   (http://laws.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/s-19/fulltext.html).

We have Section 8 which defines that penalties do not apply in the case of surveys.  They are voluntary.

Section    Every person who, without lawful excuse,  

First Point:  If StatsCan has not applied to the Courts and successfully argued for an over-ride of every person’s Charter Right to Privacy of Personal Information – – which it has not – – –  that Charter Right is active.   Plus, that Charter Right (a Constitutional Law), has precedence over the Statistics Act.  So, we have lawful excuse not to fill in a survey if it infringes on our Charter Right.

There is an (a) and (b) to Section 31, following the “Every person who, without lawful excuse”.  In reverse order:

Section 31  (b)   refuses or neglects to furnish any information or to fill in to the best of his knowledge and belief any schedule or form that the person has been required to fill in,

        Second Point:  Am I “required” to fill in a Survey?   Section 8 says that penalties do not apply in the case of Surveys.  They are voluntary.   Which means I am not “required” to fill them in.   Also,  am I “required” to fill in a Survey if it infringes on my and others’ Charter Right to Privacy?    Section 31 says if I have lawful excuse,  I don’t have to fill in the Survey.  Which again means I am not “required” to fill in a Survey that demands personal information.

Which leaves

Section 31 (a)   refuses or neglects to answer, or wilfully answers falsely, any question requisite for obtaining any information sought in respect of the objects of this Act or pertinent thereto that has been asked of him by any person employed or deemed to be employed under this Act

Two thoughts re 31 (a).

  • The first kills it:  the Statistics Act is a lower law.   It is unconstitutional if it infringes on a Charter Right.
  • A principle of Law:  higher Courts strike down Laws that are too general or too broad.  They give Governments too wide a swath, enabling them to make almost any citizen’s actions illegal.  Seems to me that Section 31 (a) fits the bill.   Citizens would have zero privacy rights under this wording, they would have to anwer:   .. any question … (provide) any information … asked by any person employed or deemed to be employed  by StatsCan . . .     I don’t think  31(a)  would stand up to a Court challenge.  .

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INSERT ADDITIONAL,  Feb 2016:  From posting   http://sandrafinley.ca/?p=16207

RE:    former Chief Statistician agrees with the premise of your second reason (Charter Right to Privacy). He states that while the mandatory collection of personal information is in violation of the charter right, however it is a ‘legitimate violation of the right’ (the idea that rights may be rescinded for a social good) because it is a recognized necessity as outlined in the statistics act.


Yes, the Government may rescind the rights of an individual.  However,

  1. The Statistics Act does not give the Government the authority to do that.  StatsCan cannot just declare that this is so.
  2. In order to override the Charter Right of an individual, the Government has to pass the “Oakes Test“.

If StatsCan wishes to take away Canadians’ Charter Right to Privacy of Personal Information, it would have to make an application to the Court to do so, supplying the Court with the arguments to satisfy the Oakes Test, and win the Court’s approval.   It has not done that.   So the Charter Right stands.


Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Section 8 Privacy – Case Law: The Queen Vs Plant protects a “biographical core of personal information” from the state. Oakes Test to override.

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We have a Charter Right to Privacy of personal information. Anyone who believes that their personal information is secure in the StatsCan data base is extremely gullible  – – –  reference Edward Snowden, Glenn Greenwald disclosures regarding American surveillance and “back-door” access to data bases, plus the articulated statements that Americans (the NSA, FBI, DofD) want access to ALL the data on Canadians.

We have Lockheed Martin Corp (American surveillance) involved.   See the Travel Expense Claims from the Assistant Chief Statistician:


From  http://www.statcan.gc.ca/eng/about/expense/petermorrison/2010

Morrison, Peter, Assistant Chief Statistician

Travel expenses – 2010

Date Purpose Cost
January 28, 2010 ARCHIVED – Lockheed Martin Steering Committee Meeting $909.88
October 11, 2010 ARCHIVED – Participate at the 2010 Meeting of the International Census Forum and Lockheed Martin Senior Management Steering Committee Meeting $2,062.94

From  http://www.statcan.gc.ca/eng/about/expense/petermorrison/2009

Morrison, Peter, Assistant Chief Statistician

Travel expenses – 2009

Date Purpose Cost
June 22, 2009 ARCHIVED – To attend the Steering Committee Meeting with Lockheed Martin and visit the United States Data Processing Centre (DPC) site $1,262.61
September 7, 2009 ARCHIVED – International Census Forum 2009


  3 Responses to “2016-07-01 StatsCan Website: Surveys are Mandatory, then Voluntary, then Mandatory. Timeline with Reddit info. Includes consolidated information: surveys are voluntary.”

  1. July 23, 2016

    Many thanks to JPB for questioning a criterion StatsCan is applying in the collection of survey data. (The methods for and amount of data collected affects the credibility of the conclusions drawn from survey data.)

    Originally posted as a Comment on 2016-06-29 Democracy, the Rule of Law. Victory over StatsCan surveys?

    JPB writes:

    My reading of the Act tells me that the Labour Survey is voluntary and that penalties do not apply to a citizen’s non-compliance with voluntary surveys.

    But there is another angle that you might want to look into. How is 100% compliance even justified on a technical basis? It seems to me that surveys will always have levels of refusal and that this is not ruionous to results. I do not think there is a statistical basis for pursuing Total Compliance.

    Okay, the survey may be significant and useful. But it hardly means that compliance must be mandatory for it to fulfill its usefulness. I think that moving from significant and useful to Total Compliance is a non sequitor, it does not logically follow. Besides, the margin of improved usefulness between Total Compliance and partial compliance might be very difficult to quantify — and even at that, voluntary compliance might be high enough without the attempts at coercion but StatsCan cannot with certainty know because it has not been tried.

    So I would suggest contacting some non-government staticians who do surveys and see if very significant decisions are made based on Acceptable Compliance levels rather than the otherwise impossible Total Compliance that StatsCan implicitly concludes is essential to performing their statutory responsiblities.


  2. Hello everyone who still might be here,

    Two-three months ago, I got the call from StatsCan and after some validation, I answered their questions. Month later I received their email and provided answers again. Some time later, I received another email and only that time I realized that I need to answer their survey 6 times. I was too busy to address the survey third time and missed the deadline. Day later I started receiving annoying calls from StatsCan employees.

    Only at that point, I started my online researches and found this web site. However, the StatsCan employees were very persistent calling me every day during work hours and called me twice on the Friday evening. This was the moment when I became very frustrated and told them everything I read here asking them to send me official letter confirming my legal obligations to answer their survey or never bother me again. Next week I was receiving their daily calls again, two of them were at the time of me driving heavy traffic and I almost got an accident.

    All above made me really annoyed and I am at the boiling point. I just decided to stand my ground.
    Nevertheless, today I received their letter.

    “As you are aware…, and you have indicated that you do not wish to participate. The following information highlights a few reasons why your participation is important.

    Participating in the LFS is a legal obligation

    Under the Statistic Act, you are legally obligated to participate in the LFS…”

    I have checked the Statistics Act page and the law stays unchanged since 1985. Which means that everything stated on this page is still actual.

    What do I do now? Is this the time when I should ask for a legal advice?

    Thank you,

  3. A man has been coming to my door four days in a row, once at night at 7:30pm, insisting I complete the labour force survey. After writing my local MP, who simply repeated that it was mandatory, and then to the stats can in my province, who said if I continue to refuse, I would be placed on the list of the public prosecution office, I now don’t know what to do. Isent a second email to my MP explaining my charter right but have yet to receive a response. My Christmas is ruined.

    I am a woman, living alone, this man is aggressive and ringing my doorbell, knocking, and I’ve been told it’s time sensitive. Have the laws changed in 2019 so that this is now truly mandatory? I am afraid, I don’t want to be prosecuted, is it even true that they can do that to me for refusing to fill out this SURVEY?

    Please help me with this, if there is something else I can do? I was also about to report the man coming to my home to stats Canada, but they said they would just send someone else or that I could do it online!!

    What can I do here?

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