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2006 Census questions


The best starting point for a census data user is probably the questionnaire itself. Familiarity with question wording, response categories, and accompanying instructions is helpful in understanding the results of any survey. It is particularly important in the case of the census, since most respondents complete the questionnaire themselves (self-enumeration), relying on their own interpretation and understanding of the questions. Users should keep in mind, nevertheless, that some census questions are not translated directly into public variables upon release but instead are represented in output data as derived variables (for example, there is no disseminated variable that contains responses that look exactly like the response options listed in Q.19 Population Group: instead the main variable resulting from Q.19 is the Visible Minority Groups variable which contains different derived response categories).

This section describes each step in the census questionnaire. It also contains a table of all census questionnaire content and derived variables since Confederation.

The two most important questionnaires used to enumerate the Canadian population in the 2006 Census were the short questionnaire (Form 2A) and the long questionnaire (Form 2B). The former had separate English and French versions and was distributed to 80% of all households, while the latter also had separate English and French versions, and was distributed to 20% of all households. The questionnaire delivery methodology was developed to ensure that each household could respond to the questionnaire in the official language of its choice. About 70% of questionnaires were delivered by Canada Post while the remaining 30% were delivered by enumerators.

The paper versions of the questionnaires provided enough space for up to six household members in the 2A Form and up to five household members in the 2B Form. Larger households had to use additional questionnaires. The 2A and 2B online questionnaires had no limit.

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Form 2A – Short questionnaire

In 2006, there were eight questions in Form 2A:

Question Content
1 Name
2 Sex
3 Date of birth
4 Marital status
5 Common-law status
6 Relationship to Person 1
7 First language learned in childhood (mother tongue)
8 Question on the release of personal data after 92 years

Form 2B – Long questionnaire

Form 2B contained the eight questions in the short questionnaire and 53 additional questions. One in every five private households received a Form 2B, except in northern areas, remote areas and Indian reserves. In those areas, all households completed a long questionnaire (Form 2D), since sampling was unlikely to produce accurate data for such small populations.

Question Content
 1 Name
 2 Sex
 3 Date of birth
 4 Marital status
 5 Common-law status
 6 Relationship to Person 1
 7 Difficulties with daily activities
 8 Reduction in activities due to physical or mental conditions or
health problems
 9 Place of birth
10 Citizenship
11 Landed immigrant status
12 Year of immigration
13 Knowledge of English and French
14 Knowledge of other language(s)
15 Languages spoken at home
16 First language learned in childhood (mother tongue)
17 Ethnic origin
18 Aboriginal identity question
19 Population group
20 Indian band/First Nation membership
21 Registered Indian/Treaty Indian
22 Instruction for remaining questions
23 Mobility – Place of residence 1 year ago
24 Mobility – Place of residence 5 years ago
25 Place of birth of parents (place of birth of father,
place of birth of mother)
26 Secondary (high) school diploma or equivalent
27 Registered Apprenticeship or other trades certificate or diploma
28 College, CEGEP or other non university certificate or diploma
29 University certificate, diploma or degree
30 Major field of study of highest certificate, diploma or degree
31 Province/territory or country where highest certificate,
diploma or degree was completed
32 School attendance
33 Unpaid work
34 Hours worked for pay or in self-employment
35 On temporary lay-off or absent from job or business
36 New job to start
37 Looked for paid work
38 Reasons unable to start a job
39 When last worked for pay or in self-employment
40 Name of employer
41 Kind of business
42 Work or occupation
43 Main activities
44 Class of worker
45 Incorporation status
46 Place of work
47 Mode of transportation to work
48 Language of work
49 Weeks worked in 2005
50 Full-time or part-time weeks worked in 2005
51 Permission to use information from 2005 income tax files
52 Sources of income
53 Question on the release of personal data after 92 years
H1Household maintainer(s)
H2Owner or renter
H3Number of rooms and bedrooms
H4Period of construction
H5Need for repairs
H6Yearly payments
H7Shelter costs – Renter
H8Shelter costs – Owner

See Appendix A for further information.

2006 Census questionnaire

The questionnaire provided respondents with the following information:

  • the confidentiality of the questionnaire when completed
  • the legal authority under which the census is conducted
  • the purpose of the census and Statistics Canada's commitment to keeping the information supplied by respondents confidential, as stated in the Chief Statistician's message
  • the requirement to provide information.

What's new?


The 2006 Census was the first census to offer the vast majority of Canadians the option of completing their census questionnaire over the Internet. The latest technologies were used to ensure that Statistics Canada's strict security and confidentiality requirements were met without imposing any pre-registration or lengthy download processes for the census Internet application. 18.5% of households completed their census form online.

This new method places Statistics Canada at the forefront of census taking.

New questions for the 2006 Census


The 2006 Census includes a new question on where (province, territory or country) individuals completed their certificate, diploma or degree, allowing analysis of interprovincial/inter-territorial and international flows of skilled personnel.


A question was added that gives respondents the option of granting Statistics Canada consent to use income information available in their income tax file in lieu of answering the income questions. This is aimed at reducing response burden and improving data quality.

Two other income questions were added to the questionnaire on income from child benefits and income tax paid.

Château Laurier, Ottawa.

Access to personal information in 92 years

A question was added asking respondents to permit Statistics Canada to make their information available to Library and Archives Canada in 92 years (question 8 on the short form or question 53 on the long form) so that their personal information could be made public. By agreeing to the release of this information, respondents will help future generations better understand the Canada of today and will allow researchers and genealogists to learn more about Canadian society in 2006.

Question not asked in the 2006 Census

A question on religion is normally asked only once every 10 years, and the religion question was asked in the 2001 Census. Therefore, this question was not included in the 2006 questionnaire.

Modified questions


The 2006 Census includes revised content for education that will provide more detailed information on school attendance and completed certificates, diplomas, and degrees. Modified questions include:

  • a separate question for each level of schooling, including high school, registered apprenticeship and other trades, college, CEGEP and other non-university and university, replacing the single question in 2001 question which asked respondents to report all certificates, diplomas or degrees
  • the questions on number of years of schooling were removed in order to capture the detail on completed credentials
  • type of school attended, replacing the 2001 question asking respondents the nature of school attendance (full-time versus part-time)
  • the question on number of years of schooling completed has been removed, reflecting the increasing importance of credentials earned.

About Question 6 — Same-sex couples

The 2006 Census is the first Canadian census where same-sex married couples can indicate their relationship. As in the 2001 Census, the question on household relationships on the 2006 Census includes a response category for the identification of same-sex common-law partners. Same-sex married couples can identify their relationship by providing a written response of 'same-sex married spouse' in the write-in field. In this way, the census continues to keep in step with societal and legal realities.

Wording changes

Demographic Characteristics

  • Mobility-Place of residence 5 years ago—added postal code.


  • Ethnic origin — The 2006 Census ethnic origin question asked 'What were the ethnic or cultural origins of this person's ancestors?' In contrast, in 2001, 1996 and 1991, the question asked 'To which ethnic or cultural group(s) did this person's ancestors belong?' The preamble to the question was also modified slightly for 2006; a definition of 'ancestor' was placed directly on the questionnaire (previously, the definition of ancestor had been included only in the Census Guide) and the list of examples updated based on 2001 Census results.
  • Population group — The Korean response category was moved ahead of Japanese based on 2001 Census response counts. As well, there were slight modifications made to the list of examples shown for some population groups.

Differences between the paper and Internet questionnaires

For the 2006 Census, technology has enabled the addition of two questions to confirm data accuracy. On the Internet and computer-assisted questionnaires, a question confirmed the age of individuals in the household, based on previously provided information in the date of birth question. In the Internet questionnaire, a household income review screen showed income amounts for each individual, as provided by the respondent in earlier questions, and respondents were asked to correct any amounts in error on this screen.

  1. 2006 Census Questions and
  2. What's new? (PDF)

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