Thompson will ask Stat Canada to review its census results
The city believes the official tally, about 600 fewer residents than in 2016, may be an underestimate.
The City of Thompson plans to ask Statistics Canada for an official review of the 2021 census population figures, estimating that the local population has not declined by nearly 5% since 2016.
Official census results showed that Thompson had lost about 6,000 residents over the past five years and had a population of just over 13,000.
Census figures are used to calculate per capita grants from the provincial and federal governments, which means that an undercount can significantly affect the municipal budget.
“There are a number of data or anecdotal information that suggest the population has not declined as much as this census suggests,” City Manager Anthony McInnis said during the March 7 committee of the whole.
Deputy Mayor Brian Lundmark noted that undercounts in the north are not uncommon.
“Historically, in northern Manitoba, our census is always off, even in the smaller communities I worked with,” he said.
The 2011 census, which indicated that Thompson’s population had fallen by 4.6%, was reviewed at the request of the city and the revised population estimate came in at just 2.4% lower than in 2006. Nineteen of the 30 reviews requested by the Northern Association of Community Council Communities following this census also saw their population increase.
The Manitoba Bureau of Statistics, which estimated the 2011 census missed 16,000 or more provincial residents, told the Thompson Citizen in 2016 that each of those missed people cost the province about $45,000 in lost funding on five years.
When the 2011 population census, which was down about 600 people from 2006 before the review, was revised upward, it increased grant funding for the city by about $50,000 per year. year.
Although the city will likely pay a consultant to collect data for the purpose of increasing the 2021 population, it should cost much less than the difference in funding would yield annually if the Statistics Canada review concludes that the number of residents should be higher.
Mayor Colleen Smook says she thinks the chances of improving the population after review are good.
“Those doing the census kept contacting me [last year] to reach the public,” she said on March 7. “They didn’t feel like they were getting hard numbers.
McInnis said the evidence supporting the review doesn’t have to be an actual count of Thompson residents on a person-by-person basis.
“Looking at building permits, looking at occupancy levels, looking at garbage, water, sewage, there are all kinds of other ways to show how those numbers have stayed the same, gone up or decreased over time, to infer whether a population is changing in that area,” he said.
Requests for review must be submitted before the end of 2022.