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Quick Facts about the Census

What is Census?

According to Statistics Canada, the Census “provides a statistical portrait of Canada and its people”. The Census enables the government to collect social and economic information, which is then used to measure changes in population and economic factors, as well as cultural and social trends. The Census is conducted every 5 years.


How is the Census data used?

Data collected through the Census is used by all levels of government, the private sector, social and community groups and is considered the “most fundamental source of information about our country and our society”.


Some of the most common uses for the data include determining the:

  • Number of seats in Parliament
  • Boundaries for federal electoral districts (FEDs).
  • Federal transfer payments to the provinces and territories
  • School enrolment and programs (e.g. ESL)
  • Trends for business, work and labour force
  • Demand and marketing of products in business
  • Programs and services in a variety of sectors (newcomers, disability, daycare, subsidized housing)
  • Health care needs and cost

 Who is included in the Census?


 2011 Census:

In June 2010, the Federal Government announced that it was doing away with the 35-year old census long-form and replacing it with a voluntary National Household Survey (NHS) in 2011.

Data from the 2011 census was collected across Canada in May, 2011. It consisted of only the short-form, and was distributed to all households in Canada.

 2011 National Household Survey:

Replacing the mandatory census long-form, the National Household Survey (NHS) will be a voluntary survey which will be distributed about four weeks after the census.  The NHS will be distributed to about 1 in 3 Canadian households.  The NHS will be distributed approximately four weeks after the census, starting in June 2011. Approximately 4.5 million households will receive the NHS.

Local councils have long depended on the information that will now be gathered by the NHS to plan for community needs.  Planning and delivery of services is directly impacted by this information, including planning for child care, public transit, services for immigrants, emergency services, housing, and health care services.

To learn more about the NHS visit: http://nhs.statcan.gc.ca

 2006 Census:

Census information is collected through the use of questionnaires. For the first time in 2006, the questionnaire was available on-line (as well as in its traditional paper format).

There is a short form questionnaire and a long form questionnaire. The first eight questions on both of the questionnaires are identical and are designed to collect information such as age, sex, marital status and language. The long form has an additional 53 questions, collecting information on factors such as education, ethnicity, mobility, income, employment, and dwelling characteristics.

As the long form questionnaire is quite detailed, only 1/5 (20%) of households are asked to fill it out. The information is then extrapolated to estimate the data for the population as a whole.

In 2006, the Census was distributed to 13,576,855 households in Canada.

 Disseminating Census data:

Data is disseminated in a variety of ways:
Standard Data is available at different levels of geography including:

  • Federal Electoral Districts (FED)
  • Provincial Electoral Districts (PED)
  • Census Municipal Areas (CMA)
  • Census Division (CD) - Regional Municipalities
  • Census Sub Divisions (CSD)- Local Municipalities
  • Census Tracts (CT) - typically a population of 4000-8000
  • Dissemination Areas (DA) – typically a population of 400-800. This is the smallest standard geographic area for disseminating data.

Custom data based on different geographies is also available on request, but there is a cost involved in custom geographies. Some examples of custom geographies in Peel include:

  • Wards
  • Service Delivery Areas

 Suppression and Confidentiality:

In order to protect residents, you will often hear that data has been suppressed.  This means that data is not released about any individual or group of individuals under a certain cut-off number. The cut-off is determined based on the sensitivity of the data by Statistics Canada.

Individual Census data is considered confidential and cannot be released for any reason. Information released from the Census cannot be tracked to any individual.