By now most households in Canada have received an invitation from Statistics Canada to complete the 2021 Census. This is a crucial survey, the results of which will form the basis for innumerable government, business, and civic society decisions that will affect all Canadians for the next five to 10 years.

One quarter of Canadian households will be asked to complete the long form, which includes many demographic questions, including one question about religion.

Statistics Canada writes, “A question on religion has been included on the decennial Census of Population since 1871, reflecting a long-standing, continuing and widespread demand for information about religious affiliation and diversity in Canada. Information on the religion of the population is commonly used by governments, as well as by religious groups, denominations and associations across the country. For example, it is used to assess the need and potential for separate religious schools in some provinces.”

As such, CFIC believes that an accurate count of Canada’s non-believing population is essential. Unfortunately, the question about religion is deeply misleading. Question 30 on the long form asks:

What is this person’s religion?
Indicate a specific denomination or religion even if this person is not currently a practising member of that group.
For example, Roman Catholic, United Church, Anglican, Muslim, Baptist, Hindu, Pentecostal, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Sikh, Buddhist, Jewish, Greek Orthodox, etc.
For additional examples of denominations and religions, visit www12.statcan.gc.ca/religion-e

    • Specify one denomination or religion only

or

    • No religion

If you are “not currently a practising member of” any religion, CFIC encourages you to select “No religion” on the 2021 Census, regardless of how you were raised, previous beliefs, or cultural affiliation. Accurately reflecting the extent of non-belief in Canada will give atheist, agnostic, non-believing, freethinking, and spiritual-but-not-religious Canadians the representation they deserve to influence public policy and decision making in the coming decade. The census is relied upon far more than surveys released by commercial entities.

Please ensure your voice will continue to be heard in the years to come.