Guide to the Census of Population, 2016
Chapter 11 – Dissemination


A primary goal of the Census of Population dissemination process is to ensure that census and geography products and services meet the primary needs of the majority of data users. Similar to previous Census of Population releases, Statistics Canada strives to provide more data free of charge to the public, while at the same time seeking ways of publishing census results in a timely and user-friendly manner. The first 2016 Census of Population results were made available to data users on February 8, 2017. All major releases of standard products were scheduled to take place in 2017, 10 months earlier than in 2011.

How census data are used

Governments, businesses, associations, community organizations and many others use census data extensively. The following are some examples:

Overview of 2016 Census of Population products and services

Products and services from the 2011 Census Program were evaluated for their continued usefulness and relevance in 2016.

The 2016 Census of Population products and services are meant to:

The Census of Population web module was also updated to enhance the user experience and improve accessibility for data users.

The 2016 Census of Population products and services line consists of five main types of products and services:

(1) Data products

These products and services have been designed to present a wide range of census information, including population and dwelling counts, and data by variable and topic. These products are released for standard geographic areas and include:

Indicators are also available on the census website, highlighting some key facts and figures at a national and provincial/territorial level.

(2) Analytical products

These products, specifically designed for the electronic medium, provide data and interpretation for selected characteristics on key findings from the 2016 Census topics. Analysis products include:

(3) Reference products

These products are designed to help users make the most of census data. They cover various aspects of the census and are intended to support the use of the data by giving users a better understanding of the methods and concepts used. The list of reference products includes:

(4) Geography products

Geography products for the 2016 Census reflect both the changes to geography concepts, as well as the more precise geometry and more detailed base map visible features (such as water, roads and road names).

A new web-based GeoSuite is introduced for the first time. It presents the same basic functionality as the desktop version while providing links to illustrated definitions and maps, among the other new features.

The list of geography products includes:

Reference documents


Spatial information products

Attribute information products

(5) Custom services

These services allow for products and services to be tailored to more specific and complex requests than can otherwise be accommodated by the standard products. User-defined tabulation services are made available upon the release of each variable.

Custom services include:

Connecting with Canadians

Statistics Canada continues to use new media to provide access to relevant, accurate and timely statistical information and to foster engagement, cooperation and information-sharing among people who use statistical information. For 2016, the Census of Population is again engaging with the public through Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, and during chat with an expert sessions. A list of the different initiatives can be found on the Stay connected page.

Availability of products and services

For 2016, census data will continue to be disseminated primarily via the Internet through Statistics Canada's website. Each release of data is summarized and published in The Daily.

Six official 2016 Census of Population data releases were scheduled between February 2017 and November 2017.

Census of Population major release dates
Table summary
This table displays the results Census of Population major release dates. The information is grouped by Release topic (appearing as row headers), Release date (appearing as column headers).
Release topic Release date
Population and dwelling counts February 8, 2017
Age and sex
Type of dwelling
May 3, 2017
Families, households and marital status
August 2, 2017
Income September 13, 2017
Immigration and ethnocultural diversity
Aboriginal peoples
October 25, 2017
Journey to work
Language of work
Mobility and migration
November 29, 2017

In addition, two 2016 Census geography product releases took place on November 16, 2016 and February 8, 2017. A Census of Agriculture release was also scheduled for May 10, 2017.

For a complete list of release dates, refer to the 2016 Census Program release schedule.

Data suppression


Published census data go through a variety of automated and manual processes to determine whether the data need to be suppressed. This is done primarily for two reasons: (1) to ensure that the identity and characteristics of respondents is not disclosed (which will subsequently be referred to as confidentiality) and (2) to limit the dissemination of data of unacceptable quality (which will subsequently be referred to as data quality).

Overview of suppression for confidentiality reasons

Confidentiality refers to the assurance that Statistics Canada will not disclose any information that could identify respondents. Various confidentiality rules are applied to all data that are released or published to prevent the publication or disclosure of any information deemed confidential. If necessary, data are suppressed to prevent direct or residual disclosure of identifiable data. Consequently, geographic areas with a population below a certain threshold are not published.

Random rounding

All counts in census tabulations undergo random rounding, a process that transforms all raw counts into randomly rounded counts. This reduces the possibility of identifying individuals in the tabulations.

Preventing disclosure

The risk of direct or residual disclosure must also be addressed when determining product content. A number of factors must be considered when assessing the risk of disclosure. The detail of individual variables, cross-classification of variables and the geographic level of the data will all contribute to the level of risk. For example, there may be no risk in producing tables with the number of persons in the dwelling and detailed groupings of age by various characteristics of the household members for large geographic areas. However, the risk of disclosure would increase for lower levels of geography.

Area suppression for standard and non-standard geographic areas

Area suppression is used to remove all characteristic data for geographic areas whose population size is below a certain threshold. The population size threshold for all standard areas or aggregations of standard areas is 40, except for blocks, blockfaces and postal code-defined areas. Consequently, no characteristics or tabulated data are released if the total population of the area is less than 40. However, for six-character postal code areas, areas built from the block or blockface, the population size threshold is 100. These population size thresholds are applied to 2016 Census data as well as to all previous census data.

Overview of suppression due to quality (to be released May 3, 2017)

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