Changing census question raises concerns about language data: expert

OTTAWA — A Canadian polling expert is raising concerns about the results of the Statistics Canada language census after the order of two questions were swapped on the national questionnaire last year.

The national statistics agency flipped the order of two questions related to which language Canadians spoke at home on a regular basis and which languages they spoke most often.

Association for Canadian Studies CEO Jack Jedwab says the results showed an unprecedented rise in the number of Canadians who spoke both English and French as their mother tongue.

He says the massive increase might be due to the change in the questionnaire rather than a true rise in the number of people who speak both official languages as their mother tongue.

Statistics Canada's director of the centre of demography says tests showed that when the order of the questions was changed, respondents understood them better.

The agency included a caution about the question change when it published the data, but Jedwab fears it did not go far enough.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 3, 2022.

Laura Osman, The Canadian Press