OTTAWA - Time has almost run out for reaching a compromise on the now-notorious mandatory long census.

Statistics Canada says the voluntary questionnaire meant to replace the mandatory long form will go to print on Aug. 9.

Printing will continue through until next May, when the new National Household Survey will eventually be sent to one in three households in Canada.

At the same time, the agency is gearing up to send the mandatory short census to every household next spring. Printing for that questionnaire starts the first week of September and will continue until March.

"The magnitude of the census printing exercise requires that printing begin well before the May 10, 2011 census date or the start of the National Household Survey," statistics officials said in an email response to questions.

That means there is little time left for critics to pressure the federal Conservative government into changing their minds on axing the mandatory long questionnaire.

Critics -- and the list is long -- say the voluntary questionnaire just won't provide the data they need to make policy or business decisions, and they are urging the government to reconsider.

The government, for its part, insists that the mandatory long form is too intrusive and coercive.

The last chance for any reconsideration is probably next week, when the provincial premiers could discuss the issue at their annual Council of the Federation meetings.

"The Council of the Federation might well be the last kick at the can," said one insider.