From 2011 to 2016, the number of Canadians who reported that they are Jewish by ethnic origin dropped by more than half. This was due not to demographic change but to the removal of “Jewish” as a specific example in the census question, which, in previous censuses, had been included along with other examples of ethnic origins. If this is not rectified for 2021, the work of Jewish charities will be drastically undermined.
Jewish Federations and Federation-funded social service agencies collectively spend tens of millions annually on charitable work throughout Canada, including on projects to support seniors, alleviate poverty, educate students, and integrate new Canadians. This vital work requires access to accurate census data providing a clear portrait of Jewish communities across Canada.
While Statistics Canada is working to address the issue, the Government of Canada should ensure the ethnic origin question is amended to prevent the continued underreporting of Jewish Canadians in the next census.