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Census workers logged hundreds of cases of violence, harassment by public

Documents show hundreds of injuries and at least 15 cases of assault

Statistics Canada documents show workers who went door-to-door to collect data for the 2021 census logged hundreds of workplace injuries and at least 15 assaults by members of the public.

The data tables obtained by The Canadian Press through access-to-information law list 680 injury reports, including more than 280 cases of harassment or violence.

In some of the most extreme examples, employees were punched, threatened with firearms, spat on or sexually assaulted.

In one case, a census interviewer was assaulted by a resident using a “pellet gun,” while another had a “gun pointed at her from another vehicle,” the documents say.

One worker was knocked down stairs after being punched in the face by a resident, and had to go to the hospital.

Another census employee was unwillingly detained in the home of an angry resident, the documents say. The event was reported to the RCMP.

In at least three separate instances, people collecting data for Statistics Canada reported that they were sexually assaulted by members of the public.

The majority of the census workplace safety complaints were traced to western and central provinces.

The Canadian government collects national population data every five years, and Statistics Canada representatives are sent to visit households that are late to submit their census questionnaires.

The injury reports from staffers showed there were 137 cases of people’s dogs being aggressive or biting them, along with 158 slips, trips or falls.

Details about the total number of assaults and psychological injuries are redacted in the documents, as is information about any workplace fatalities.

Other categories of injuries included vehicle accidents, “potential contamination” and other “emergency” situations. The total number of incidents for each is also redacted.

The Canadian Press has contacted Statistics Canada and Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne, who is responsible for Statistics Canada matters, for comment, but neither responded by deadline.

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