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More information on Total income


2006 (1/5 sample), 2001 (1/5 sample), 1996 (1/5 sample), 1991 (1/5 sample), 1986 (1/5 sample), 1981 (1/5 sample), 1971 (1/3 sample), 1961 (1/5 sample)

Reported for:

Population 15 years of age and over, excluding institutional residents

Question number:

Direct variable: Question 52


Positive or negative dollar value or nil


Respondents were asked a direct question on their total income including Child Benefits. For persons allowing access to their income tax data, the total income is replaced by a derived total income which includes an assigned amount for Child Benefits.

Information on total money income was collected in the 1961, 1971, 1981, 1986, 1991, 1996, 2001 and 2006 Censuses. The major differences between censuses with respect to income are summarized below.


  1. The 1961 Census did not collect data on income from farming. Therefore, this source of income was excluded from 'Total income' in that census.
  2. The 1986 Census included, for the first time, federal Child Tax credits in 'Total money income'. These credits and family allowances were replaced in 1996 by the federal Child Tax benefit. In 2001 and 2006, this benefit is comprised of the Canada Child Tax Benefit, the National Child Benefit Supplement, and child benefits and earned income supplements provided by certain provinces and territories. Additionally in 2006, the Child Disability Benefit is included.
  3. In all censuses, income received by immigrants prior to their arrival in Canada was not included in 'Total income'.
  4. In all censuses, the income concept excluded gambling gains and losses, lottery prizes, money inherited during the year in a lump sum, capital gains or losses, receipts from the sale of property, income tax refunds, loan payments received, lump-sum settlements of insurance policies, rebates received on property taxes, refunds of pension contributions as well as all income 'in kind', such as free meals, living accommodations, or agricultural products produced and consumed on the farm.
  5. In 2000, respondents may have received an Ontario taxpayer dividend, an Alberta energy tax rebate or an amount as part of the federal government's pay equity settlement. The Ontario taxpayer dividend, a rebate of 1999 provincial tax, is excluded from the income concept. The Alberta energy tax rebate is a non-taxable benefit paid to Alberta residents 16 years of age and over who filed a 1999 income tax return. Respondents were asked not to include this amount in their income; rather it will be calculated and assigned during processing. All amounts, received from the federal government's pay equity settlement, related to years of service prior to calendar year 2000 are excluded from the income concept.
  6. Benefits from wage-loss replacement plans or income-maintenance plans are included with Wages and salaries in 2000 and 2005. In prior censuses, these amounts were included as part of Other money income.
  7. To better approximate the concept of income under the taxation system, the following changes were made to source components for 2005. Taxable benefits, research grants and royalties are now included as part of Wages and salaries. The latter two items were formerly included as part of Other money income while taxable benefits and allowances were formerly excluded. Regular payments to motor vehicle accident victims from provincial or territorial governments, formerly included in Other income from government sources, are now excluded.

Reference period

Except for 1961, respondents were asked to report their income for the calendar year prior to the census. The 1961 Census gave the respondents the option to report their income either for the 12 months preceding the census or for the calendar year 1960.


  1. The 1961 Census excluded all farm households, all collective households and all households in the Northwest Territories.
  2. Only the 1971 Census collected information on income from institutional residents.
  3. Since 1991, income information was collected from non-permanent residents. (See the definition for Immigration: Non-permanent resident.)


  1. In 1971, income data were collected from a 1/3 sample of households. In all other censuses, the sample size was 1/5. (In certain selected areas, sampling was replaced by 100% enumeration.)
  2. The data were collected by canvassers in 1961. In subsequent censuses, the main collection method used was self-enumeration.
  3. Because of the various options of reporting income to the Canada Revenue Agency for tax purposes available to Hutterite colonies, all individuals in them have been assigned zero income since the 1981 Census.
  4. Various censuses differed in respect of combination of income sources. For details, see Figure 6.

    Figure 6 Components of income in 2005

  5. No information was collected from respondents on Family Allowances and Child Tax credits in 1985 and 1990, Child Tax benefits in 1995 or Canada Child Tax Benefits in 2000. These were calculated on the basis of other information on families and assigned, where applicable, to appropriate individuals.
  6. The 2006 Census gave respondents the option of allowing Statistics Canada access to tax data files for income source items. Where possible, a response to a direct variable was derived from the CRA-provided data. The impact of this mixed source mode of income data collection will be reviewed and appropriate data quality interpretations will be supplied later in the census cycle.

See also Income : After-tax income