Census Program Content Consultation Report, Census year 2016

Executive summary

The Census Program is a primary source of demographic and socioeconomic data in Canada, available for various population groups and small areas. During the 2016 Census Program consultations, 2,351 usesFootnote1 were reported in more than 500 submissions received from government, non-government sectors and the general public.

The data uses submitted during consultation provide valuable insight on users' information needs and priorities, and attest to the requirement for all Census Program topics, to varying degrees.

The input collected reveals that Census Program results are used by all levels of government to support and monitor legislation and regulatory provisions, as well as to evaluate policies and for resource allocation, among other uses. Census Program information is consulted by non-government organizations to inform program development and service delivery, for priority setting and strategic planning, research projects, decisions on site location, market segmentation and more.

The following examplesFootnote2,Footnote3, presented by Census Program topic, serve to highlight the breadth and diversity of the data applications reported by consultation participants. The majority of uses received specify multiple topics indicating a necessity to maintain the Census Program's capacity for multidimensional output.

Basic demographics
Census Program data on basic demographics are used in the calculation of transfer payments under the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act. Census Program demographic data are referred to provincially, for example, to determine eligibility for social programs. Local governments use these data as inputs in transportation modelling and to plan programs and services. The media analyse basic demographic data for reporting on trends across the country. Many users from the government and non-government sectors indicated that the demographic characteristics from the Census Program are required for policy/program planning, service delivery and/or the allocation of resources. More than 1,400 uses were reported for this topic.
Families and households
These data provide insight on societal changes reflected in family structures and are used for several federal government family-focussed programs including the Public Health Agency's Canada Prenatal Nutrition Program, as well as for policy or program requirements related to the Canada Pension Plan, Old Age Security and Employment Insurance. These Census Program topic results are consulted, for example, by the provincial governments for resource allocation and/or service delivery related to child care and social services, and at the local level to support housing strategies and determine waste disposal needs. Business relies on families and households data to inform capital investment decisions and for target marketing. More than 1,000 uses were reported for this topic.
Activities of daily livingFootnote4
This information, in combination with other data on disability, is important to all levels of government for legislative and/or policy and program requirements. For example, the federal government refers to the data when fulfilling reporting obligations to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Disability data underpin the federal Employment Equity Act and New Brunswick's Premier's Council on the Status of Disabled Persons Act. They inform the development of policies fostering job market integration at all levels of government. Activities of daily living data are used by non-government organizations to support caregivers, for advocacy and priority setting. More than 600 uses were reported for this topic.
Place of birth, citizenship and immigration
At the federal level, these data are used in support of the Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act. They are also important for planning, resource allocation, service delivery, program monitoring and performance reporting on immigration, integration as well as citizenship and multiculturalism policies. At the provincial level, they are used to monitor and report on social determinants of health, and for immigrant attraction and retention. They are referred to by local governments for resource allocation related to many activities including immigrant settlement and community outreach. Non-government organizations look to these data to measure the impact of government changes to immigration programs. More than 700 uses were reported for this topic.
Results from this topic are used federally to meet the obligations stipulated under Canada's Official Languages Act. Provincial/territorial governments require these data for economic and social policy development and to inform the provision of education to official language minorities. Local governments use them for welcoming community policies targeting linguistic minorities and to support resource allocation for the recommended top languages for interpretation. These data are also used to analyse changes in demolinguistic dynamics as well as for public health research and analysis. More than 800 uses were reported for this topic.
Ethnic origin
Information on diversity available from this Census Program topic is required under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Ethnic origin results are also used in support of the Ontario's Health Protection and Promotion Act and Quebec's Loi sur le ministère de l'Immigration et des Communautés culturelles (L.R.Q., chapitre M-16.1). They are necessary to identify the ethnocultural background of individuals born in Canada, as well as individuals with Aboriginal ancestry, a key element in the definition of the Aboriginal population. Ethnic origin results are used to analyse health outcomes and study social stratification. They are used to develop sociodemographic and neighbourhood profiles and to produce the Pan-Canadian Public Health Network's Indicators of Health Inequalities report (planned for 2015). More than 600 uses were reported for this topic.
Aboriginal peoples
At the federal level, these data underpin Comprehensive Land Claim Agreements, self-government agreements and remittances to Aboriginal governments. They inform provincial poverty reduction efforts, municipal/regional official plans, resource allocation for affordable housing programs and outreach. They are used for the delivery of cultural programs, for economic development, as well as for evaluation and/or performance reporting on the delivery of programs and policies related to Aboriginal peoples. These data are used to monitor changes over time of social and economic outcomes such as employment and education for Aboriginal peoples, and are analysed to understand Aboriginal population growth. More than 800 uses were reported for this topic.
Visible minorities
Various organizations refer to these data to fulfil mandates related to the representativeness of visible minorities in the workplace in the federal public sector and federally regulated industries in response to the Employment Equity Act. Moreover, they inform federal multiculturalism programs and policies. Population group results are also used at the provincial/territorial and local levels to promote workforce integration and by business for population projections in order to understand future market trends, for market segmentation and retail site location research. More than 700 uses were submitted for this topic.
Mobility and migration
Data on mobility and migration are important to the federal Employment Insurance Act and Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency Act, and are used to allocate resources and/or for service delivery by the federal government. Among the input received by provinces, these data help to understand interprovincial mobility and plan for postsecondary enrolment. Local governments refer to migration data to identify areas of growth and decline, useful for infrastructure planning. Aboriginal organizations consult them to determine the need for stable support such as affordable housing. Approximately 700 uses were reported for this topic.
These data are used at the federal level for several programs including the Canada Student Loans Program, Employment Insurance and Canada Pension Plan, among others. Education data are also required for Alberta's Apprenticeship and Industry Training Act and Newfoundland and Labrador's Youth Attraction Strategy. Decisions on tuition policy, student financial assistance, postsecondary education funding and job-related training are based on these data. Education results are a source of information for training programs and recruitment. More than 900 uses were reported for this topic.
Labour market activity
At the federal level, labour market activity information underpins programs and policies related to Employment Equity Act and regulations, and Employment Insurance Act and regulations. Labour data are used by provincial governments for resource allocation, including education investment decisions. They assist local governments in complying with provincial legislation and regulations, such as Ontario's Places to Grow Act, R.S.O. 2005, and are used to determine job market diversity. The non-government sector refers to them for child care and community services planning and for career counselling. In total, more than 1,000 uses were reported for this topic.
Place of work and commuting to work
These data inform transportation policy, models and transit fare subsidy program planning. They are used by provincial and local governments in support of laws, such as the South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority Act [SBC 1998] and Alberta's Municipal Government Act. Consultation participants also reported that infrastructure planning, long-term land use development, travel demand forecasts and resource allocation for transit and cycling networks rely on these Census Program results. Approximately 600 uses were reported for this topic.
Income and earnings
These data enable the administration of federal legislation such as the Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security Act, and were cited in relation to provincial and territorial laws, such as Yukon's Municipal Act, Saskatchewan’s Automobile Accident Insurance Act and New Brunswick's Labour Market Research Act. Census Program income and earnings results are used at the local level to target the delivery of services and programs such as school lunch programs and shelters, and by academia for wage gap analysis and research studies. More than 1,000 uses of this topic were reported.
Housing and shelter costs
These data are used by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation to carry out their responsibilities under the National Housing Act, for Manitoba's Poverty Reduction Strategy Act, Ontario's Housing Services Act, 2011, and New Brunswick's Community Planning Act (section 77). Information on housing and shelter costs is used for urban and regional planning, for housing strategies, and for outreach and emergency shelter programs. They assist in setting strategic priorities, are used for resource allocation and to inform community safety programs. More than 800 uses were reported for this topic.
Census division/census subdivision, census tract and dissemination area data are required in approximately 43% to 46% of the uses submitted by provincial/territorial governments, local governments and non-government organizations. There is also a need for Census Program data based on 'other geographies,' including custom areas, with the majority of these reported uses specifying data below the census metropolitan area. Two-thirds (66%) of all uses rely on Census Program results at detailed levels of geography and other geographical levels.
Suitable alternative data sourcesFootnote5
When asked about other data holdings within their organization, those participants that responded indicated there were no alternative sources of Census Program data for more than 90% of reported uses.
Multivariate analysis
The requirement for multiple Census Program topics is prevalent in the consultation input received. The need for results from two or more topics is witnessed in approximately 80% of the reported data uses.
Comparability across Canada
Among the answers collected, there is an essential/strong need for comparability across Canada in 77% of reported data uses. Non-government organizations and the federal government rated the ability to compare data across Canada as an essential/strong need in approximately 90% of reported data uses.
Continuity over time
There is an essential/strong need for continuity over time relayed in approximately 84% of reported data uses. More than nine out of ten uses collected from non-government and local government sectors indicated there was an essential/strong need for this dimension.
Requirements for new data
Overall, no major gap in the content of the Census Program was identified by consultation participants. Of the 131 new data requirements reported during consultation the majority were supported by only one or two submissions. Suggested new topics include unpaid work, gender identity, commute to school, secondary residence, sexual orientation, religion, types of disability, child care, debt, fertility, residential mobility and type of dwelling.
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