OTTAWA - The Conservative government is sticking with a voluntary survey in place of a mandatory long-form census in 2016.

Statistics Canada says the format will remain the same as in the controversial 2011 census period.

There will be a mandatory short form for all Canadian households, and a voluntary National Household Survey for one in three households.

The last survey came back with a 68.6 per cent response rate, compared with 93.5 per cent when the long form was mandatory.

Data from thousands of smaller communities had to be excluded from the release of the 2011 census results because it was not considered reliable.

The Conservatives axed the long-form census in 2010, dismissing a long list of associations and organizations who argued public planners would no longer get an accurate picture of the population and its needs.

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  • Activist Audrey Tobias, 89, looks back as she enters a Toronto court after speaking with journalists during a recess on on Thursday, October 3, 2013. The activist stands trial over refusing to fill out the census because it's processed with software from a U.S. military contractor. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young.

  • Peace activist Audrey Tobias, 89, walks to a Toronto court after speaking with journalists during a recess on Thursday October 3, 2013. The activist stands trial over refusing to fill out the 2011 census because it's processed with software from a U.S. military contractor. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

  • Peace activist Audrey Tobias, 89, steps out of a Toronto court to speak with journalists during a recess on Thursday, October 3, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

  • Peace activist Audrey Tobias, 89, looks back as she enters a Toronto court after speaking with journalists during a recess on on Thursday October 2, 2013. The activist stands trial over refusing to fill out the census because it's processed with software from a U.S. military contractor. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

  • Peace activist Audrey Tobias, 89, steps out of a Toronto court to speak with journalists during a recess on Thursday, October 2, 2013. The activist stands trial over refusing to fill out the census because it's processed with software from a U.S. military contractor. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young