Guide to the Census of Population, 2016

Release date: February 8, 2017 Updated on: January 27, 2020 and January 30, 2018

Correction Notice

On January 30, 2018, a correction was made to Table 10.2 'Imputation rates by question, for the 2011 Census, the 2011 NHS and the 2016 Census, Canada'. Data points for questions 22, 23, 24a and 24b were revised.

This reference document provides an overview of the Census of Population content determination, collection, processing, data quality assessment and data dissemination. It may be useful to both new and experienced users who wish to familiarize themselves with and find specific information about the 2016 Census.

Table of contents

Chapter 1 – Introduction

General information
Why does Statistics Canada conduct the Census of Population?
Why is the census in May?
Privacy and confidentiality
Consent to release personal information
Retention of census information
Official languages
Other languages / alternative formats

Chapter 2 – Census history

Chapter 3 – Communications

Key activities
Public relations
Media relations
Chapter 3Social media
Aboriginal strategy
Census website

Chapter 4 – Content determination

How are the census questions determined?
May 2014 Content Test
Changes to the 2016 Census questionnaire

Chapter 5 – Census of Population questionnaires

Forms used to enumerate usual residents of private dwellings
Forms used to enumerate usual residents of collective dwellings

Chapter 6 – Online questionnaire

Reduced costs and increased quality
Mobile-friendly responsive design

Chapter 7 – Field operations

Census delivery methods
Census wave approach
Census collection methods
Census Help Line
Data collection verification and follow-up activities for the 2016 Census

Chapter 8 – Processing

Receipt and registration
Imaging and data capture
Edit and imputation

Chapter 9 – Sampling and weighting for the long form

Chapter 10 – Data quality assessment

Sources of error
Measuring data quality
Response rate for the 2016 Census of Population
Quality of long-form questionnaire estimates
Comparability of estimates from the 2016 Census long-form questionnaire with estimates from the 2011 National Household Survey
Comparability of estimates from the 2016 Census long-form questionnaire with estimates from the 2006 Census long-form questionnaire
Comparability of the variability of estimates from the 2016 Census long-form questionnaire with that of estimates from the 2011 NHS and the 2006 Census long-form questionnaire
Description of standard error
Derivation of the coefficient of variation (CV)
Distinction between standard error, response rate and global non-response rate
Conceptual and methodological differences between standard errors for the 2016 Census long-form questionnaire, the 2011 NHS and the 2006 Census long-form questionnaire

Chapter 11 – Dissemination

How census data are used
Overview of 2016 Census of Population products and services
Connecting with Canadians
Availability of products and services
Data suppression

Chapter 12 – Census geography

National Geographic Database
Hierarchical model of geographic areas for collection
Hierarchical model for the dissemination of geographic areas
The hierarchy of geographic areas: understanding the hierarchy, how geographies are related and data analysis
Geographic areas for dissemination
Non-standard or user-defined geographic areas for dissemination

Appendix 1.1 – Legislation

Requirement to respond
Statutory references to the census
Constitutional law

Appendix 1.2 – Incompletely enumerated Indian reserves and Indian settlements

Appendix 1.3 – Difference between census counts and population estimates

Appendix 1.4 – Note describing the Wood Buffalo census subdivision data collection methodology and the use of administrative data sources

Reference date
Data collection
Administrative data
Data quality for population and dwelling counts
Short-form questionnaire data quality

Appendix 1.5 – Information produced from the 2016 Census of Population

Who is included in the population of Canada?
Where are people counted?
Who is included in the data for each topic?

Appendix 1.6 – Results of the 92-year consent question

Release of personal census information after 92 years

Appendix 1.7 – Percentage change for population and dwelling counts at various levels of geography

Appendix 1.8 – Evaluation of the impact of updating 2016 Census language data

Potential impact on other variables
Evaluation of the impact on the weighting of the 2016 Census long-form questionnaire sample

Appendix 1.9 – Standard errors of estimates from 2016 Census long form sample

Analysis of the 2006 Census long form, 2011 NHS and 2016 Census long form standard errors

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