Count Me In: the OPSEU membership census

Complete the census and get entered to win an iPad and prepaid Visa gift cards! The sooner you enter, the more chances you’ll have to win with our early bird draws!

To complete the census online

To download and print the census

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OPSEU's Social Mapping Census is all about improving services for our diverse membership. To do that, we need to hear from you

As OPSEU members, we’re part of a large union family. As our family continues to grow and change, so do our members’ priorities.

But in order to improve services for our diverse membership, we need to hear directly from you.

At the heart of any democracy is engagement. Just like voting in an election, OPSEU’s success depends on the participation of our members.

That’s why OPSEU’s Social Mapping Project – “Count Me In” – is so important. When the project started in 2010, it was the largest and first-ever demographic survey of a union in North America – a truly groundbreaking initiative.

Count Me In is all about tackling issues like access and equity. The results we’ve collected have been key in setting union-wide priorities and planning for the future.

But it’s time for an update!

That’s why we encourage every member to take a few moments to complete the 2019 census. We want to hear from you, because your voice matters.

Why are we doing a census?

Our members are our greatest asset. Being able to better serve you starts with learning more about your personal story and changing needs. By filling out the census, you will help bring OPSEU one step closer to being able to better respond to the priorities that matter most to you.

The idea for the OPSEU census began over ten years ago with the Coalition of Racialized Workers (formerly Workers of Colour Caucus) and other equity committees/caucuses. They lobbied OPSEU to take a closer look at the demographics of the organization. A resolution to this effect was passed at Convention in 2008, and the first OPSEU census was carried out in 2009-10. Then, in 2017 Convention passed a resolution to conduct this second OPSEU census to gain insights into how our membership and its needs have evolved in more recent years.

In addition to the census, members will also have an opportunity to take part in exploratory interviews and focus groups to delve deeper into the census findings (more information below).

What is a census?

A census is typically used by governments throughout history to count a population as well as to find out factors relating to sex, age, occupation, and so forth.

This census does not take the traditional approach. Instead, we are focused on learning about what your day-to-day reality is so that the information you provide will be used to create services and policies that best reflect your priorities. In order to be able to compare some of our data to Statistics Canada information, we’ve adopted the same question structure and terminology as the national Canadian census where appropriate. 

At OPSEU, we are committed to building a stronger and more inclusive relationship with the full diversity of our members. The census is an important stepping stone toward an ongoing dialogue about how we can be more reflective of your needs.

Who is eligible to complete the census?

All OPSEU members are eligible to participate in the OPSEU census. We want to hear the diversity of voices from across all locals, sectors, divisions and regions. This includes both new and more experienced members; full-, part-time and seasonal workers; and individuals from equity-seeking groups.

The higher the rate of participation and inclusion across our membership, the better the picture OPSEU will get, and the more informed we will be to take action to meet your needs. We invite you to spread the word among other members you know and work with.

Why should I participate in the census?

By filling out the census you are helping OPSEU piece together a more accurate picture of who our members are. Each member has their own unique story to share and we want to hear about, and include, as many voices as possible.

The information you provide will also help us bargain better contracts to reflect your priorities. For example, if the survey results indicate a large increase in respondents providing care for elders in their family, then we can try to address these needs at the bargaining table. We cannot bargain on a hunch.  We need facts for good decision-making. We need to know who our members really are. 

If you think OPSEU can do a better job representing you, filling in the census is a way of helping us get there.

How can this information make a difference? Can you give me some examples?

Demographic data helps to gain a clearer picture of what your changing needs are and how OPSEU can best respond to them. Here are some examples of how we were able to put data and recommendations from the first OPSEU census into action:

  • Representation: Improving representation of equity-seeking communities at Convention and on OPSEU’s Executive Board was made a priority. In the past few years, OPSEU equity committees/caucuses have proposed a number of constitutional amendments and resolutions that advocate for equity-based seats and increased representation for Indigenous, racialized, and young workers, and workers from other equity groups.
  • Accessibility: An equity audit of Convention services and facilities was carried out to improve accessibility, in order to better represent the full diversity of the membership.
  • Education: The lived experience and knowledge of committees and caucuses have been increasingly incorporated in developing and delivering educationals – for example, the Train the Trainer in French and the Indigenous Journey Course I and II.

This second census will now help us determine the impact of these initiatives and how we can improve further.

Where do I fill out the census?

Until December 16, 2019 you can complete the census online. If you need the census in a paper format, which can be returned to our consultants by email or by mail in a pre-paid envelope, please contact OPSEU Direct at 1.800.268.7376 or tvining@opseu.org.

Is the census mandatory?

No. Completing the census is completely voluntary. However, it is critical that all OPSEU members be included and counted. The more respondents there are to the census, the better we will understand our membership and your needs.

All questions in the census are also voluntary. We encourage you to answer as many as possible – each one contains important information that will help provide a more complete picture of what OPSEU looks like as a whole.

How will you protect my privacy?

OPSEU has hired an independent consultant, Graybridge Malkam to gather and analyze the information on our behalf. 

Your census data will be anonymous and will be kept confidential by Graybridge Malkam – this means that no names will be used in the findings and only aggregate (grouped) data or individual data stripped of personal information will be provided to OPSEU as part of the final report.

At the end of the census, members will have an opportunity to provide contact details so they can be entered into a draw for an iPad or a prepaid VISA gift card. These contact details will be gathered, compiled and stored separately from your census data. For the online census, members will provide this information through a second link; for paper versions available at OPSEU events, members will place their information in a separate collection box.

After the census, OPSEU will be able to analyze the data in order to strengthen our ability to negotiate and campaign on behalf of members. Appropriate safeguards and restrictions will be in place to maintain privacy of individuals and small groups of respondents who may take part in the consultations as a follow up to the census.

What kinds of questions will be asked in the census?

The census will gather information on:

  • General demographics – region, division, employment status
  • Individual  demographics – personal, education, dependent care
  • Member activities – volunteering and other work
  • Union demographics – elected union positions, attendance at Convention, access to union education

There will also be an opportunity for members to take part in exploratory interviews and focus groups to gather your perspectives on:

  • OPSEU equity-related actions, and how OPSEU is doing in terms of reflecting member interests and concerns
  • Opportunities to strengthen equity in line with members’ current priorities and needs

Members can indicate their interest in taking part in an interview or focus group at the end of the census.

Isn’t it against the law to ask these questions?

No. Asking these questions is not against the Ontario Human Rights Code or Privacy legislation. In fact, under the following three conditions, the census process is actually recommended by both the Canadian and Ontario Human Rights Commissions:

  • Information gathered is used for equity reporting and program development;
  • Participation is voluntary; and
  • The results are confidential.

The OPSEU census fulfills all three criteria.

How will OPSEU use the information?

A final report including findings from the membership census, exploratory interviews and focus groups, and an equity review of our membership policies will be presented at the 2020 Convention.

The results of the OPSEU census will provide invaluable information to inform inclusive decision-making about all aspects of our work:

  • Identifying membership needs
    • Increases our understanding of the make-up of our membership, to help us better represent our diversity and tailor services to members’ emerging needs
  • Assessing progress
    • Sheds light on the effectiveness of OPSEU services and programming for all members – including both strengths we can build on, and remaining barriers to eliminate to achieve full participation
  • Strengthening a culture of equity and inclusion at OPSEU
    • Helps us continue to build a union that reflects equity in all that we do, to strengthen our work in advocacy, build our reach in terms of organizing and influence, and inform our organizing ideas and strategies

I don’t have access to a computer. How can I fill out the census?

You can access a computer at your local union office, public libraries or community centre. Additionally, you can complete the census on your mobile device. Please contact OPSEU Direct at 1.800.268.7376 if you need to access a paper copy.

How long will it take to complete the census?

It will take you about 15 minutes. If you need to stop the online survey part-way through, there will be an option to save your answers and complete it later (more instructions, including a contact for technical questions, are provided in the survey).

What can I do in my local and/or region to encourage members to complete the OPSEU census?

Here are some suggestions on ways to spread the word. Adapt and add to these based on your local needs.

  • Distribute information in your network:
    • Share OPSEU social media posts with information about the census
    • Download the census flyer and post it in your office and workplace
    • Talk to individual members – tell them about the benefits of taking part
  • If you’re organizing an event:
    • Add it to your agenda and encourage everyone to take part
    • Set up a table with a tablet or laptop to enable participants to complete it during the event
  • If you’re a regional leader:
    • During local meetings, encourage everyone to complete it and to spread the word
    • Make available a tablet or laptop that can travel to each work site for members to complete the census on their lunch break
    • Make it fun – set up a local leadership challenge!

What if I have additional questions about the census?

If you have further questions or are unsure about anything related to the census, please contact OPSEU Direct at 1.800.268.7376 or tvining@opseu.org.

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