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:
- The federal government uses population counts from the decennial census (held in years ending in the number 1, for example, 2001, 2011) to realign the boundaries of federal electoral districts. These data are required under the Constitution Act, 1867, and ensure equal representation of the population in the House of Commons.
- Data from the decennial and quinquennial censuses are used to produce population estimates.
- These estimates are used in the calculation of transfer payments from the federal government to the provinces and territories, and from the provincial and territorial governments to municipalities.
- In 2016/2017, the Government of Canada projects allocating roughly 68 billion dollars to provincial and territorial governments through its major transfers (Canada Health Transfer [CHT], Canada Social Transfer [CST], Equalization and Territorial Formula Financing [TFF]) and direct targeted support. Even a small error in the estimates could lead to the misallocation of billions of dollars.
- Government departments need to know the age trends of the population to estimate future demands for child tax benefits and old age pensions.
- Communities use census information on population growth and movement for planning services such as schools, daycare, police services and fire protection.
- Town planners, social welfare workers and other government agencies use census information on families.
- Transportation planners for provincial, territorial, regional and municipal governments use census information to analyze traffic flows, assess existing transportation services and plan for changes to these services and to road networks.
- Life insurance companies base their premium tables on census age data.
- Businesses determine new factory, store and office locations based largely on the size and distribution of the population in different areas.
- Manufacturers of household and farm equipment are guided by census data in determining the best market locations for their products. They can also assess the benefits of developing specific products by knowing the characteristics of the population in particular areas.
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:
- satisfy policy and market analysis data needs
- be easy to use and understand
- contain information giving users both a historical and geographical perspective
- present data by topic
- offer levels of geography with the potential to better meet users' needs
- provide users with new product options.
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:
- Data tables
- Census Profile
- Age pyramids
- Aboriginal Population Profile
- Portrait of Official Language Communities
- Public Use Microdata Files
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:
- The Daily
- Census in Brief
- Data visualization tool.
(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:
- Guide to the Census of Population
- Reference guides
- Technical reports
- Release and concepts overview
(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:
- Illustrated Glossary
- Geography Catalogue
- Reference guides
- Working papers
- Interim List of Changes to Municipal Boundaries, Status and Names
- Reference maps
- Thematic maps
Spatial information products
- Cartographic boundary files
- Digital boundary files
- Road Network File (available annually)
Attribute information products
- Geographic Attribute File
- GeoSuite (desktop version and new Internet-based version)
- Correspondence Files
(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:
- Census custom tabulations
- Semi-custom tabulations
- Semi-custom profiles
- Target group profiles
- Semi-custom cross-tabulations
- Census data file at the Research Data Centres (RDCs)
- Geography custom services
- Custom area creation
- Custom product creation
- Custom map creation
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.
|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
|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.
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.
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.
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
By reviewing data quality, the dissemination of data whose quality is deemed unsatisfactory can be restricted, if necessary. Quality indicators are produced for all standard geographic areas for which data are released.
Global non-response rate
The global non-response rate (GNR) is an important measure of census data quality. It combines total non-response (households) and partial non-response (questions). This measure is used for the 2016 Census, as it was for the 2011 and 2006 censuses. The GNR is calculated for dissemination of the short-form questionnaire counts and long-form questionnaire estimates. For the long-form census questionnaire, the GNR is weighted to take sampling into account. A lower GNR indicates a lower risk of non-response bias and, as a result, a lower risk of inaccuracy.
The GNR is the main dissemination criterion associated with the quality of the 2016 Census short-form questionnaire counts and long-form questionnaire estimates. The counts and estimates for geographic areas with a GNR equal to or greater than 50% are not published in the standard products. The counts and estimates for these areas have a high risk of non-response bias, and in most cases, should not be released. The 50% threshold was set based on analyses produced following the 2011 Census and National Household Survey of the GNR in relation to non-response bias indicators. Those analyses showed that with a GNR of 50% or higher, the level of bias was sufficiently high to make the estimates below an acceptable quality.
Table 11.1 shows the GNR for the 2016 Census short-form and long-form questionnaires at the national level and for each province and territory. At the national level, the GNR for the 2016 Census short-form questionnaire is 4.1%.
|Provinces and territories||Short-form questionnaire||Long-form questionnaire|
|Global non-response rate (%)||Global non-response rateTable 11.1 Note 1 (%)|
|Canada||4.0||Note ..: not available for a specific reference period|
|Newfoundland and Labrador||4.0||Note ..: not available for a specific reference period|
|Prince Edward Island||4.1||Note ..: not available for a specific reference period|
|Nova Scotia||3.9||Note ..: not available for a specific reference period|
|New Brunswick||3.9||Note ..: not available for a specific reference period|
|Quebec||3.7||Note ..: not available for a specific reference period|
|Ontario||3.7||Note ..: not available for a specific reference period|
|Manitoba||4.3||Note ..: not available for a specific reference period|
|Saskatchewan||4.8||Note ..: not available for a specific reference period|
|Alberta||4.7||Note ..: not available for a specific reference period|
|British Columbia||4.9||Note ..: not available for a specific reference period|
|Yukon||6.7||Note ..: not available for a specific reference period|
|Northwest Territories||7.5||Note ..: not available for a specific reference period|
|Nunavut||7.9||Note ..: not available for a specific reference period|
.. not available for a specific reference period
Coverage of data published from the 2016 Census short-form questionnaire
Canada has a total of 152 census metropolitan areas (CMAs) and census agglomerations (CAs). For all of these areas, the GNR of the short-form questionnaire is below 50% and 2016 Census data are available in the standard products. In addition, the 2016 Census short-form questionnaire standard products are available for all 293 census divisions (CDs) and 338 federal electoral districts (FEDs).
With the threshold for the global non-response rate for the short-form questionnaire counts set at 50%, 2016 Census data can be published for the vast majority of census subdivisions (CSDs) or municipalities. As a result, short-form questionnaire counts are published in the standard products for 4,585 CSDs, representing 99.6% of the 4,603 CSDs with a population of more than 40 inhabitants (those with a population of less than 40 are not published for confidentiality reasons). Table 11.2 shows the distribution of the total number of CSDs and the number of CSDs for which data have been published, by province and territory.
|Provinces and territories||Total number of census subdivisions||Census subdivisions for which data have been published|
|number||percentage||population covered (%)|
|Newfoundland and Labrador||354||354||100.0||100.00|
|Prince Edward Island||111||111||100.0||100.00|
Note: CSDs for which data have not been published for confidentiality reasons are excluded from this table. They have a population less than 40.
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