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Forward sortation area

The population and dwelling counts for a forward sortation area (FSA) are based on the first three characters of the postal codes captured from the first page of the 2006 Census questionnaire. The same postal code was assigned to all members of a given household to allow for the calculation of population counts.

The postal code is captured for all households from the address information provided or accepted by the respondent on the front page of the census questionnaire. For the 2006 Census, held on May 16, some census questionnaires contained a pre-printed postal code that the respondents could either accept or correct; however, other census questionnaires did not contain a pre-printed postal code and the respondents were asked to provide one by writing it on the questionnaire.

The postal code provided by respondents may or may not be the same as the one assigned to their dwelling by Canada Post Corporation. For example, respondents may give the postal code of their mailing address, such as a post office location (as in the case of general delivery) or of a business location.

The postal codes were processed through a series of operations including data capture, and edit and imputation. The edit operation consisted of identifying applicable, acceptable and invalid postal codes. Postal codes were determined to be applicable for the 2006 Census, if they appeared on Canada Post Corporation’s Address Lookup File for May 2006, the month of the census. However, postal codes provided by the respondents were considered acceptable if they were found in the file from Canada Post Corporation within the six months leading up to the census. This is consistent with the effort to represent the FSA and the postal code whenever they could be considered as being in use at the time of the census. The imputation stage assigned applicable postal codes where either no postal code was reported or an invalid postal code was provided.

While these processes allow census respondents to provide postal codes of any category (for example, a commercial postal code or a large volume receiver postal code), analysis of census results has shown that this occurs only for a small number of households. If an FSA is not reported in the census questionnaire, as in the case of many business FSAs, it is not included in the Highlight Tables or the Census Forward Sortation Area Boundary File. Where a postal code is not frequently reported in a block, it may not be represented in the 2006 Census Forward Sortation Area Boundary File which is built from blocks. As a result, whereas 1,623 FSAs were reported in the 2006 Census, only 1,604 are represented in the boundary file.

All households that provided a postal code with the same FSA were grouped to calculate FSA totals in the Highlight Tables. As a result, it is possible that households located in a particular province be included in an FSA found in another province. Therefore, calculating a provincial population and dwelling count by grouping FSAs will not necessarily yield the same count as the one provided in the provincial or territorial population and dwelling counts table. Two FSAs are reported in more than one province or territory for the 2006 Census. These FSAs are:

  • 'S0M', which was reported in Alberta and Saskatchewan
  • 'X0E', which was reported in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.

However, in neither case was the response significant enough to warrant a separate polygon in the secondary province or territory in the Census Forward Sortation Area Boundary File.