Census is a detailed enumeration of the Canadian
population on May 10, 2011. Statistics Canada, an agency of the
Canadian government, conducts a nationwide census every five years. In
2011, it consisted of a mandatory short form census questionnaire and
an inaugural National Household Survey (NHS), a voluntary survey
which replaced the mandatory long form census questionnaire; this
substitution was the focus of much controversy. Completion of the
(short form) census is mandatory for all Canadians, and those who do
not complete it may face penalties ranging from fines to prison
Statistics Act mandates a Senate and/or House of Commons (joint)
committee review of the opt-in clause (for the release of one's census
records after 92 years) by 2014.
Census is the fifteenth decennial census and is required by
section 8 of the Constitution Act, 1867. As with other decennial
censuses, the data was used to adjust federal electoral district
As of August 24, 2011, Canada's overall collection response rate was
98.1%, up over a percentage point from 96.5% in the 2006 Census.
Prince Edward Island
Prince Edward Island each hold the highest response rate
at 98.3%, while
Nunavut holds the lowest response rate at 92.7%.
In an article in the New York Times in August 2015, journalist Stephen
Marche argued that by ending the mandatory long-form census in 2011,
the federal government "stripped
Canada of its capacity to gather
information about itself" in the "age of information." Nearly 500
organizations in Canada, including the Canadian Medical Association,
the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, and the Canadian Catholic Council of
Bishops protested the decision to replace the long form
Census in 2011
with a shorter version.
2 Questionnaire revision
2.1 Short form
2.2 National Household Survey
Census of Agriculture
3 Voluntary long-form survey controversy
3.1 Private member's bill
4 Data releases
5 See also
7 External links
Canada had projected that Canada's population would reach
36.5 million people in 2015. The official population was one
The original schedule of the short-form questions for the 2011 Census
of Population was published in the
Canada Gazette, Part I on August
21, 2010. The 2011
Census consisted of the same eight questions
that appeared on the 2006
Census short-form questionnaire, with the
addition of two questions on language. The federal Minister of
Industry Tony Clement's announcement that questions about language
would appear on the mandatory short-form census came in response to a
lawsuit brought by the Federation of Francophone and Acadian
Communities, which claimed that the voluntary status of the long-form
census would impact language-related government services.
In addition to possible questions on activity limitation, various
organizations have already called for changes for the upcoming census:
Adding "Aboriginal identifier" to the short form (already found on the
Relationship of same-sex married couples.
Place of work and transportation-related questions.
Food security questions.
National Household Survey
The National Household Survey (NHS) began within four weeks of the May
Census and included approximately 4.5 million households. The
information collected by the NHS is intended to replace the data from
the previous long-form census questionnaire. This questionnaire will
cover most of the same topics as the 2006 Census.
Various industry professionals have indicated that the data collected
by the NHS will not be compatible with the data previously collected
by the long form questionnaire. Many of the same professionals
have indicated that the data gathered by a voluntary survey will not
be of the same quality as the previous mandatory long
Census of Agriculture
Census of Agriculture will add options allowing Statistics Canada
to access the respondents' financial data from the
Agency (CRA) given the Business Number of the farm.
Voluntary long-form survey controversy
Ahead of the 2011 Census, the Conservative government announced that
the long-form questionnaire would no longer be mandatory. This
decision was made by the June 17, 2010 Order in Council, created by
the Minister of Industry, defining the questions for the 2011 Census
as including only the short-form questions. This was published in the
Canada Gazette on June 26, 2010; however, a news release was not
issued by Minister of Industry
Tony Clement until July 13, 2010. This
release stated in part "The government will retain the mandatory short
form that will collect basic demographic information. To meet the need
for additional information, and to respect the privacy wishes of
Canadians, the government has introduced the voluntary National
Household Survey." On July 30, 2010, Statistics
Canada published a
description of the National Household Survey, intended to be sent to
about 4.5 million households. Industry minister
Tony Clement stated
that the change to voluntary forms was made because of privacy-related
complaints, though he acknowledged that the decision was made without
consulting organizations and governments that work closely with
Statistics Canada. Clement had previously said that this change was
made on the advice of Statistics Canada.
The move has been criticized by a number of organizations and
individuals and has been the subject of some satirical articles.
The new voluntary form is judged to be less accurate than the
mandatory long form by many industry professionals and the
organizations which make use of the data. Ivan Fellegi, the former
Chief Statistician of
Canada originally appointed in 1985 by the
Progressive Conservative government of Brian Mulroney, said that he
would have quit his job if the government had taken this change during
his tenure. He claims that those who are most vulnerable (such as the
poor, new immigrants, and aboriginals) are least likely to respond to
a voluntary form, which weakens information about their
demographic. Munir Sheikh, Fellegi's successor as Chief
Statistician appointed by Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper
on February 15, 2008, resigned on July 21, 2010 in protest of the
Conservative government's change in policy. In a public letter,
Sheikh wrote that he could not legally comment on what advice he had
given the government regarding the census, but he did comment against
the government's decision, writing:
I want to take this opportunity to comment on a technical statistical
issue which has become the subject of media discussion. This relates
to the question of whether a voluntary survey can become a substitute
for a mandatory census.
National Citizens Coalition and the
Fraser Institute support the
change. The strongly libertarian National Citizens Coalition,
which claims a membership of between 40,000 and 45,000, is continuing
to campaign against the mandatory long form census.
Groups against the change come from all parts of the political
spectrum, and include the Federation of Canadian Municipalities;
Atlantic Provinces Economic Council; City of Toronto; National
Statistics Council; Canadian Jewish Congress; Evangelical
Fellowship of Canada; Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops;
Canadian Medical Association; Statistical Society of Canada; the
American Statistical Association; Registered Nurses Association of
Ontario; Canadian Conference of the Arts; and the governments of
Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and
On July 19, 2010, representatives from several institutions signed a
letter expressing their disapproval of the change and their desire to
speak to Clement to find another solution. The organizations
Canadian Association for Business Economics
Canadian Nurses Association
Caledon Institute of Social Policy
Canadian Institute of Planners
Institute for Research on Public Policy
Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants
Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada
Canadian Labour Congress
Canada West Foundation
United Way of Canada
Glendon School of Public and International Affairs
National Specialty Society for Community Medicine
University of Toronto
University of Toronto School of Public Policy and Governance and
Rotman School of Management
Canadian Public Health Association
Canadian Association of University Teachers
Canadian Council on Social Development
Canadian Economic Association
Toronto Board of Trade
A House of Commons industry committee special hearing on July 27, 2010
heard that during the previous census, out of approximately 12 million
forms, 166 complaints were known to be received directly or
indirectly. In answer to Clement's claim that those who don't fill
out the census risk jail time, Jack Layton, leader of the national New
Democratic Party, noted that in the entire history of the census, the
government had not prosecuted and jailed a single person for failing
to complete the census, and pointed out that the threat could be
removed entirely by amending the legislation so that incarceration is
no longer a penalty for refusal to complete the census. In
response, the government announced plans to introduce legislation to
remove the threat of jail time for anyone refusing to fill out any
mandatory government surveys. The
Statistics Act has not yet been
amended to change the penalties. It was last updated in 2005.
Some groups have argued that the decision was motivated by a wish to
destroy a useful tool for social advocacy, by making it harder to
identify and count disadvantaged groups. However, the Conservative
government maintains that its reasoning for the cancellation is that
they do not believe it is appropriate to force
Canadians to divulge
detailed personal information under threat of prosecution.
On October 20, 2010, Statistics
Canada predicted that a voluntary
long-form would result in a decline of total respondents from 94% to
50%. Consequentially, they expect a "substantial risk of non-response
bias" and plan to "[adapt their] data collection and other procedures
to mitigate as much as possible against these risks." The response
rate also led them to predict an increased risk of sampling errors,
because only 16% of the Canadian population would be surveyed, as
opposed to 19% under a mandatory long-form similar to the one in
2006. The government announced in August 2010 that it would be
spending $30 million on a campaign aimed at increasing the response
rate to the voluntary form, but information released by Statistics
Canada in December 2010 revealed that half of this money would be
required for tasks unrelated to the promotional campaign.
Criticism of the National Household Survey re-emerged in 2013
following the release of the first set of results from the survey.
Private member's bill
In September 2014, Liberal MP
Ted Hsu introduced private member's bill
"Bill C-626, An Act to amend the Statistics Act" with the intention of
appointing a Chief Statistician and reinstatement of the long-form
census in Canada. Despite wide support as often happens with
private bills, this failed (at Second Reading), in February 2015.
Census of Population
The results of short form were released among five census topics on
the following dates in 2012:
Population and dwelling counts – February 8, 2012;
Age and sex – May 29, 2012;
Families, households and marital status – September 19, 2012;
Structural type of dwelling and collectives – September 19, 2012;
Language – October 24, 2012.
Census of Agriculture
Farm and farm operator data from the
Census of Agriculture was
released on May 10, 2012.
National Household Survey (NHS)
The release dates of the five NHS topics occur on the following dates
Aboriginal peoples – May 8, 2013;
Immigration and ethnocultural diversity – May 8, 2013;
Education and labour – June 26, 2013;
Mobility and migration – June 26, 2013; and
Income and housing – August 14, 2013.
Demographics of Canada
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Census home page (Statistics Canada)
Census of Agriculture and
Census of Population questions (PDF)
National Household Survey questions (PDF)
Census dissemination discussion forum (Statistics Canada)
Census and Geography Dissemination Guide (Statistics Canada)
Census Content Consultation Report (Statistics Canada)
Census Content Consultation Guide (Statistics Canada)
Population by years
Population by municipalities
Largest cities by census
People of Canada
Horn of Africa
English North American
Flemish - Walloons
By province & territory.. Alberta
Newfoundland & Labrador
Prince Edward Island
By city.. Calgary
Canadian cities by census
By province & territory..
Newfoundland and Labrador
Prince Edward Island
Members of.. Canada's Walk of Fame
Fathers of Confederation
The Greatest Canadian
Newsmaker of the Year
Individuals by.. Aboriginals
Province and city