Citizens and other eligible persons resident in Jamaica are being encouraged to participate in the 2022 Population and Housing Census, which was launched on Wednesday (August 10) by Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness.
The three-month exercise, which is the country’s 15th, is being spearheaded by the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) under the theme ‘Yuh Count, Mi Count – All A Wi Count, and will cost the Government approximately $2.4 billion.
It commences on Census Day, Monday, September 12, which will serve as the reference date for the data collated.
More than 7,500 field workers have been recruited to conduct the exercise, which will see tablet computers being used for the first time in the data-collection process.
Speaking at the launch held at the AC Marriott Kingston Hotel, Prime Minister Holness said the census is one of the most important statistical exercises to be undertaken, noting that the data collated is crucial in the Government’s policy decisions.
“If we’re going to make policies on behalf of the people, we can’t just make policies on emotion [or] what we feel is popular. We have to make policies on the facts. So, it is important that when the census takers come to your community, that you embrace them and that you cooperate with them and give the necessary information,” he said.
“The Government wants to serve you better, and in order to serve you better, we need to understand your needs and your conditions, and that is why we are conducting this census,” he stressed.
Mr. Holness assured that personal information provided will be treated confidentially as mandated under the Statistics Act.
He noted that persons who will collect the data “are trained in this regard and they have a duty to maintain the privacy of the information that they receive”.
“I would also say that the Government recognises that as we move towards becoming a digital society [we] must be the defender of the privacy and security… of citizens’ data.
“The Government has invested significant resources in the collection and storage of data, in hardening and protecting the data and in putting in place, the legal and institutional framework to protect your data,” he said, adding that no digital society “can truly flourish without the guarantee of the protection of your data”.
Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Dr. the Hon. Nigel Clarke, who has portfolio responsibility for STATIN, said the Jamaica’s 2022 Population and Housing Census is a “big investment”.
He advised that the census takers, who will be paid, are drawn from communities that are close to the areas where they will be collecting data.
“So, they will be familiar with the territory that they will be operating in. So, whatever the local community norms and expectations are, we can have a good level of assurance that those will be observed in the process of collecting the data,” he noted.
STATIN’s Chairman, Professor David Tennant, noted the census is the Institute’s flagship programme.
He pointed out that the data derived is relied on by policymakers, entrepreneurs, researchers, civil society groups, faith-based organisations, private-sector stakeholders, and the general public to make informed decisions.
“This undertaking is in keeping with our mission to contribute to national development through the provision of quality statistics to enable effective planning and decision-making,” Professor Tennant said, while informing that the public education programme is expected to be ramped up, beginning this week.
STATIN’s Director General, Carol Coy, advised that in addition to visiting homes, the census takers will be going into correctional institutions, children’s homes, infirmaries, drop-in centres, boarding and residential schools, university and college residences, military camps, police training schools, police barracks, hospitals, and facilities providing specialised long-term care.
She indicated that persons living on the streets and on the cays will also be counted.
Ms. Coy said preliminary results from the census will be available in fiscal year 2023/24.
Additionally, she said the information will be provided in an anonymised way, “meaning, you will not be able to identify an individual from the data when we release it”.
The Director General further advised that STATIN’s website will be utilised to release most of the information.
Member of Parliament for St. Andrew South Eastern, Julian Robinson, who represented Opposition Leader, Mark Golding, pledged the Opposition’s support for the census, in acknowledgement of its importance in Jamaica’s policy and programme development.
Wednesday’s proceedings also saw Dr. Clarke signing the regulations giving effect to the census’ implementation, as well as the unveiling of the television commercial and jingle.