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1.  Census data collection

1.1  General

1.2  Collection methods

1.1  General

The data collection stage of the 2006 Census process ensured that each of the 13.5 million dwellings in Canada received a census questionnaire. The census enumerated the entire population of Canada, which consists of Canadian citizens (by birth and by naturalization), landed immigrants, and non-permanent residents together with family members living with them. Non-permanent residents are persons living in Canada who have a Work or Study Permit, or who are claiming refugee status, and family members living with them.

The census also counted Canadian citizens and landed immigrants who were temporarily outside the country on Census Day. This included federal and provincial government employees working outside Canada, Canadian embassy staff posted to other countries, members of the Canadian Forces stationed abroad and all Canadian crew members of merchant vessels.

The Census of Canada uses different forms and questionnaires to collect data. The following forms are referred to in this report:

A Form 1 is called a Visitation Record (VR). The VR is used to list every occupied and unoccupied private dwelling or collective dwelling, agricultural operation and agricultural operator in the collection unit. The VR serves as an address listing for field operations and control purposes for census collection.

The basic short questionnaire is called the 2A. It is distributed to four in five private dwellings. The 2B is a longer questionnaire that collects the same information as the 2A as well as additional information on a variety of topics. The 2B questionnaire is distributed to every one in five private dwellings. Each household that receives a 2A or 2B census questionnaire is asked to enumerate and provide information on all household members who fall into the census population.

A Form 2C is mainly used to enumerate people posted outside Canada, including Canadian government employees (federal and provincial) and their families, and members of the Canadian Forces and their families. The Form 2C contains the same questions as the 2B questionnaire with the exception of housing questions.

A Form 2D contains the same questions as the Form 2B but is used to enumerate northern areas and most Indian reserves, Indian settlements, Indian government districts and 'terres réservées'. In canvasser areas, it is also used to enumerate usual residents of a Hutterite colony.

A Form 3 is an individual census questionnaire used to enumerate persons in a collective dwelling (each person in the collective dwelling would complete a separate Form 3). It can also be used to enumerate usual residents in a private household who prefer to be enumerated on their own census questionnaire rather than be included on a 2A or 2B questionnaire. Form 3A is the short version of the questionnaire, and Form 3B is the long version.

1.2  Collection methods

To ensure the best possible coverage, the country was divided into small geographic areas called collection units (CUs). In the 2006 Census, there were approximately 50,000 collection units.

About 98% of households were enumerated using self-enumeration. Starting May 2, Canada Post delivered a census questionnaire to about 70% of households, with the remaining 30% receiving their questionnaire from an enumerator. Householders were asked to complete the questionnaire for themselves and for members of their household and return it either online or in the postage paid yellow envelope by May 16, Census Day.

About 2% of households were enumerated using the canvasser method. An enumerator visited a household and completed a questionnaire for the household by a personal interview. This method was normally used in remote and northern areas of the country and on most Indian reserves. It is also used in large urban downtown areas where residents are transient.

For the first time, the 2006 Census offered all households in Canada the option of completing their questionnaire online. Each paper questionnaire had a unique Internet access code printed on the front along with the 2006 Census website address (www.census2006.gc.ca). Respondents needed this access code to complete their questionnaire online. If a questionnaire was completed and returned online, the information was directly submitted into the data processing centre system and was verified for completeness. Approximately 18% of the population responded via the internet.

Some households were enumerated through the Census Help Line (CHL), a free, nationwide, multilingual service that was available to all respondents. The Census Help Line collected census information through a computer-assisted telephone interviewing (CATI) system. Households from which a questionnaire had not been received within an acceptable time frame were contacted individually by enumerators in order to collect their information. CATI was also used when enumerators contacted households for missing responses on their questionnaire.

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