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Chapter 10 – Dissemination


A primary goal of the dissemination process is to ensure that census and geography products and services meet data user needs. Similar to previous census 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 accessible manner.

How census data are used

Governments, businesses and associations 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 in producing 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 2011/2012, provinces and territories will receive $58.4 billion through 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.

  • 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 2011 Census products and services

Products and services from the 2011 Census were developed after consulting with existing and potential data users about their data needs and requirements for census information. Past products were evaluated for their continued usefulness and relevance. Technologies such as the Internet were used to increase efficiency and accessibility for data users.

Based on these and similar considerations, 2011 Census products and services are meant to:

  • satisfy market, policy and data needs
  • be easy to use and understand
  • contain information giving users both an historical and geographical perspective
  • present data by variable as well as by topic
  • offer levels of geography with the potential to better meet users' needs
  • provide users with new media and price options.

The 2011 Preview of Census Products and Services was first made available in September 2011 and gives a general outline of the five types of products and services available for the 2011 Census:

(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 available for standard geographic areas and include:

  • Highlight tables
  • Topic-based tabulations
  • Census Profile
  • Visual Census.

(2) Analytical products

These products, specifically designed for the electronic medium, provide data and interpretation for selected characteristics on key findings from the 2011 Census topics. Analysis products include:

  • Analytical documents
  • Census in Brief series
  • Focus on Geography Series.

(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:

  • Preview of Census Products and Services
  • Overview of the Census
  • Census Dictionary
  • Technical reports
  • Reference guides.

(4) Geography products

Geography products for the 2011 Census reflect both the changes to geography concepts, as well as the more precise geometry and more detailed cartographic features (such as water, roads and road names). The Road Network File (RNF), which covers all of Canada, is available annually. Reference maps and other geographic products are available through a variety of media, including the Internet. Tools are provided for users to find and view their geographic area of interest on the Internet. The list of geography products includes:

Reference documents

  • Illustrated Glossary
  • Geography Catalogue
  • Reference guides
  • Working papers
  • Interim List of Changes to Municipal Boundaries, Status and Names.


  • Reference maps
  • Thematic maps
  • GeoSearch.

Spatial information products

  • Cartographic boundary files
  • Digital boundary files
  • Road Network File.

Attribute information products

  • Geographic Attribute File
  • GeoSuite
  • Correspondence files
  • Postal code geography 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
    • Print-on-demand

Availability of products and services

For 2011, 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. Four official 2011 Census data releases are scheduled between February 2012 and October 2012.

Census output major release dates

Census output major release dates
Data release Date
Population and dwelling counts February 8, 2012
Age and sex May 29, 2012
Families, households and marital status September 19, 2012
Structural type of dwelling and collectives
Language October 24, 2012
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