Guide to the Census of Population, 2016
Appendix 1.3 – Difference between census counts and population estimates

The Census of Population is designed to conduct a complete count of the population. Inevitably, however, some individuals will not be enumerated (undercoverage), while others, usually less numerous, will be enumerated more than once (overcoverage).

To determine the number of people who were missed or counted more than once, Statistics Canada conducts postcensal studies of the coverage of the census population, using representative samples of the population. Results of these studies are usually available two years after Census Day. They are used, in combination with census figures and other sources, to develop the population estimates produced by Statistics Canada on a regular basis. Population estimates are used for equalization payments, to follow trends in the Canadian population on a quarterly basis and to understand the underlying components of population change (for example, births, deaths, immigrants, emigrants and non-permanent residents). Population estimates differ from census counts and are usually higher, because census counts are not adjusted for undercoverage or overcoverage.

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