Q & A
- Why are we doing a Census?
- What is a Census?
- Who is eligible to complete the Census?
- Which Census do I complete if I am working as a Member Development Trainee (MDT) at OPSEU?
- Why should I participate in the Census?
- How can this information make a difference? Can you give me an example?
- Where do I fill out the Census and are there hard copies available?
- Is the Census mandatory?
- How will you protect my privacy?
- What kinds of questions will be asked in the Census?
- How will OPSEU use the information?
- Is the real reason for the Census to create quotas and targets?
- I don’t have access to a computer. How do I fill out the Census?
- If I complete the Census at work, will my employer retaliate against me?
- What if I have additional questions about the Census?
- I don’t feel comfortable answering a question, what do I do?
- Can I stop the Census half way through and come back to it?
- Can I fill out the Census after November 30th?
- If you can’t tell who filled out the Census, what is the benefit of the results?
- How will I know the results are valid and reliable?
- Why are the questions asked in the way that they are, and where did the definitions come from?
- Isn’t it against the law to ask these questions?
- When will the results of the Census be made available?
- What are the next steps?
A: Our members and staff are our greatest assets. 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 with the Workers of Colour Caucus and other Equity Committees. They lobbied OPSEU to take a closer look at the demographics of its membership and staff. A resolution to this effect was passed at Convention in 2008. OPSEU welcomed this project and created the OPSEU Census.
A: 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.
At OPSEU, we are committed to building a stronger and more inclusive relationship with our members and staff. The Census is an important stepping stone toward an ongoing dialogue about how we can be more reflective of your needs.
If you pay Union dues to OPSEU then you are eligible to participate in the Membership Census at www.twiinc.ca/opseu. This includes casuals, employees on leave and seasonal employees.
OPSEU staff will be completing a separate Staff Census that includes part-time, temporary employees, those in “acting” positions and those on leave.
Retirees and CAAT Part-timers are NOT eligible to participate at this time.
If you are working as an MDT you should complete the Membership Census. If you are a member who is working in a temporary position (i.e. an “acting” position), then you should complete the Staff Census. If you are unsure whether you are classified as a temporary employee or an MDT, please contact your OPSEU supervisor for clarification.
A: 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 through the Census.
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. 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.
A: Demographic data helps to give a clearer picture of what your changing needs are and how OPSEU can best respond to them. Here are some examples:
i. Benefits and Better Wages – OPSEU learned that more than 60% of Liquor store employees were part-time. They worked for lower wages than full-timers and without benefits, even though they were performing the exact same job duties as full-timers. In June 2009, OPSEU used these facts to negotiate a collective agreement that improved wages and benefits for part-timers.
ii. Retiring with Dignity: Data from members and employers in the Broader Public Service (BPS) showed that many members did not have access to a pension plan. OPSEU set up the TOPPS BPS Pension Plan to address this need.
iii. Developmental Services: When OPSEU surveyed its members, we found the majority was part-time. Improving their wages, and reducing the gap between full- and part-time workers became a key bargaining goal. In 2007, we won a huge victory for this group.
A: Until December 11th you will be asked to participate by filling out the Census form online at www.twiinc.ca/opseu . For those that require the Census in a paper format, which can be returned to our consultants by mail in a pre-paid envelope, please contact OPSEU Direct at 1.800.268.7376.
A: No. Completing the Census is voluntary. However, it is critical that all OPSEU members and staff be included and counted. The more respondents there are to the Census, the more accurate and complete the “snapshot” will be.
A: OPSEU has hired an independent consultant, TWI Inc., to host the survey on their external server, as well as to handle the data and to produce the final report. At no point during the process will OPSEU or your Employer have access to raw survey data. Additionally, there is a written guarantee between OPSEU and TWI Inc. on how the data will be managed. Only aggregate (grouped) data or individual data stripped of personal information will be provided to OPSEU.
Remember, the Census is both confidential and anonymous.
Confidentiality means that individual data is kept secret, and access to the raw data is restricted to only a few individuals. No raw data pertaining to a single individual is ever disclosed.
Anonymity means the participants are not identified by name. In the case of the Census, participant names are not collected and thus respondents are anonymous.
A: The Census will cover the following four areas:
- General Demographics – region, division, employment status
- Individual Demographics – personal, education, dependent care
- Member Activities – areas of volunteer and other work
- Union Demographics – elected union positions, attendance at Convention, access to union education
A: A final report of both the Membership Census and the Staff Census will be presented at the 2010 Convention. The report will highlight trends, gaps or barriers to access for both members and staff. Where gaps are identified, they will be followed up on in our Membership and Employment Systems Review, also known as “Phase II” of the project.
Phase II will begin in 2010 and involve focus groups and interviews with members and staff. A final report with recommendations will be produced at the end of this phase.
A: The real reason for the Census is to collect a “snapshot” of OPSEU as a whole. With this picture, we hope that we will have the information we need to begin identifying gaps in our services and practices that require our attention.
While representation is an important indicator of fairness in a Union or workplace, it is not the only measure of fairness. This project aims to improve the Union in a number of areas, including representation for groups that are facing barriers to access and participation.
A: You can access a computer at your local union office, public libraries or community centre. Additionally, some workplaces are allowing employees to use computers at work during breaks and lunches (check with your union steward to see if your employer has agreed to this).
Paper copies are available through the mobilizers and through your regional office via your union steward. Please contact OPSEU Direct at 1.800.268.7376 to access a paper copy.
A: If your employer has agreed to allow you to complete the Census at work, they cannot retaliate against you. Please contact your union steward to find out if your employer has an agreement in place.
If you are still concerned about your privacy or about retaliation, there are alternative ways of filling out the survey:
- Fill out the Census on your home computer.
- Access a computer through your local union office, the local library or internet café.
- Fill out a hard copy instead.
A: We encourage you to answer as many questions as possible because each one contains important information that will help provide a more complete picture of what OPSEU looks like as a whole. However, if you are uncomfortable, you can skip a question and move on. This will not “spoil” your Census.
A: There is a “time-out” feature that kicks in 60 minutes after you start. As long as you complete the Census within an hour, you can stop and start again.
A: If you have further questions or are unsure about anything related to the Census, please contact OPSEU Direct at 1.800.268.7376.
Yes. Surveys that are completed or are in the mailbox by December 11th will be processed.
A: A Census aims to identify general trends. It does not focus on individual results. Identifying personal information is not necessary to achieve an accurate “snapshot” of our Union and this point of view is shared by the professional consultants involved in conducting the survey.
Not only that, but in the interest of fostering a mutual relationship of trust, it is OPSEU’s priority to respect your right to privacy.
A: Every effort will be made to ensure the consistency and accuracy of the Census data. The external consultants at TWI Inc. have the resources and experience to detect fake responses through cross-referencing tools built into the survey technology.
While it is not possible to eliminate inaccuracies with 100% certainty due to the very nature of how a survey works, the results will only contain a 1% fluctuation in the reported percentages. This is true for both OPSEU’s and Statistics Canada’s baseline statistics.
A: In order to be able to compare some of our data to Statistics Canada information, we adopted the same question structure and terminology where appropriate.
A: 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.
A: We aim to have the final Census report complete by May 2010 to be made available at Convention.
A: To build on the data from the Census, we will be conducting a Membership and Employment Systems Review beginning in 2010, also known as Phase II. This phase aims to gather perceptions and opinions related to any of the gaps identified in the Census.
We hope to complete a conclusive report with recommendations for Phase II by May 2011.