Basic demographics

Basic demographics data provide information about the sex, date of birth, age and marital status of respondents. The basic demographics topic ranks the highest, in terms of frequency, among all the Census Program topics, and is an underlying characteristic in the data requirements reported by users.

Examples of reported data usesFootnote1,Footnote2


The federal government uses basic demographic data to calculate transfer federal-provincial/territorial payments under the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act. As reported during consultation, decennial Census Program data are also required for the Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act. Results from this topic support the Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security Act, and are used for various activities related to the Canada Elections Act, the Immigration Refugee Protection Act and the Canada Pension Plan Investments Board Act.

Examples of legislative and regulatory uses at the provincial/territorial level for which basic demographic data were cited include the electoral boundaries acts in New Brunswick, Manitoba, British Columbia, Nunavut, Newfoundland and Labrador, Yukon's Municipal Act, Alberta's Government Accountability Act and Municipal Government Act, British Columbia's Environmental Management Act, Municipal Sewage Regulation (B.C. Reg. 129/99), and Ontario's Health Promotion and Protection Act.

Local governments in Ontario refer to these data, for example, for the creation of profiles and the production of population and household projections in order to meet the obligations of official plans under the Ontario Planning Act, R.S.O. 2005.

Resource allocation and service delivery

Federally, basic demographic data are used for resource allocation and/or service delivery by the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency for the Innovative Communities Fund, by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation when providing financial assistance to seniors in Prince Edward Island and Yukon under the Home Adaptations for Seniors' Independence program, for remittances to Aboriginal governments and consumer protection programs.

Parenting and family literacy centres, social services and income assistance needs assessments are among the examples submitted by the provinces/territories.

At the local level, Census Program data support resource allocation for regional and municipal infrastructure master plans for water/wastewater, transportation master plans and community plans for children. They also inform the delivery of city services such as fire, police, transportation, utilities, parks and recreation.

Planning, development, monitoring, evaluation and performance reports

Many federal public health surveillance programs for diseases including HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, West Nile virus, enteric diseases, vaccine-preventable diseases and chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes rely on these data to calculate rates and monitor trends.

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation requires basic demographic data to prepare crowding and core housing need estimates. Several departments use these data for monitoring/evaluation and/or performance reporting, including activities related to Employment Insurance, the National Anti-Drug Strategy and Federal Tobacco Control Strategy and the Official Languages Strategy. They are also referred to for transportation policy development and planning as well as crime data calibration.

Basic demographic data are used to support, monitor and evaluate policies and programs aimed at health and education, and target groups such as Aboriginal peoples, children, seniors and youth. At the provincial level, they are used, for example, by the Government of Manitoba to establish eligibility for social programs such as the Manitoba Child Benefit Program as well as to forecast costs of existing and new programs. They serve as an input in the development of British Columbia's socioeconomic index, important for health policy development and analysis, and are used by New Brunswick for programs within the Hospital Services Branch.

Local government representatives refer to these data to plan services (examples range from child care and sports to library services and solid waste). They are used as inputs in transportation forecasting and modelling, to determine school placement, for land use planning and long-term development, for urban planning and budgeting as well as for mapping the distribution of children to inform Ontario Early Years program planning. Basic demographic data are consulted for economic development, program plans and strategic plans including human services plans.

Research and other uses

Service providers use these data to project senior housing, care, living arrangements and supportive services, to determine the level of children/seniors/community programming and to plan health services.

The media indicated that they analyse basic demographic data when reporting on Canada's population structure and trends across the country, and for tracking societal changes. Data uses reported by business include the development of consumer lifestyle clusters, marketing and market segmentation, trend analysis for service delivery planning, commercial development projects and urban studies. In addition, they are used to examine consumer behaviour and market potential, and to optimize retail opportunities.

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