Release and Concepts Overview
2016 Census of Population:
Language

Release date: June 16, 2017

1. Objectives

Census of Population release topics will be accompanied by their own Release and Concepts Overview and will be available from Statistics Canada's website in advance of each release.

The purpose of the Release and Concepts Overview series is to provide an overview of:

  • the concepts, definitions and key indicators used by each of the major 2016 Census of Population releases

  • the products that will be available on each major day of release and later.

The Release and Concepts Overview series will help partners, stakeholders and other data users to better understand the information being released.


This Release and Concepts Overview is for the Language release, which will be on August 2, 2017.

The information provided in this overview is subject to change.

2. Concepts and definitions: Language

Mother tongue

Language spoken at home — Main and secondary

The 2016 Census of Population includes a two-part question on language(s) spoken at home. Part A relates to the language spoken most often at home (main language spoken most often at home). Part B relates to other language(s) spoken on a regular basis at home (secondary languages used) in addition to the main language, where appropriate. Multiple responses are accepted for each part. In the released documents, statistics on a language spoken at home (or language used at home) include all people who reported that language in Part A or Part B, whether one language or more was reported.  

Knowledge of official languages

English–French bilingualism

The ability to maintain a conversation in both of the country’s official languages.

Canadian official languages

According to the constitution, English and French are Canada’s official languages.

First official language spoken

Other languages

“Other languages” refers to all languages other than French and English. This includes Aboriginal languages, immigrant languages and sign languages. Some data products use the term “non-official languages” to designate the same category.

Immigrant languages

“Immigrant languages” refers to languages (other than French and English) whose presence in Canada was initially attributable to immigration. Other than French and English, this term excludes Aboriginal languages and sign languages. 

Aboriginal languages

“Aboriginal languages” refers to languages (other than English or French) traditionally spoken by Aboriginal people in Canada, that is, First Nations people (North American Indian), Métis and Inuit.

3. Key indicators

English‒French bilingualism

  • Number of persons who knew English and French in 2016 and 2011
    • Variation between 2011 and 2016
  • Bilingualism rate: Portion of the population which declares that it can maintain a conversation in English and French in 2016 and 2011
    • Variation between 2011 and 2016

Mother tongue

  • Distribution of mother tongue languages as reported by Canadians in 2016 and 2011, single and multiple responses.
    • Variation between 2011 and 2016
  • Number of persons having an immigrant language as their mother tongue in 2016 and 2011, single and multiple responses.
    • Variation between 2011 and 2016
    • Ranking of main immigrant mother tongues in 2016 and 2011.
  • Number of persons having an Aboriginal language as their mother tongue in 2016 and 2011, single and multiple responses.
    • Variation between 2011 and 2016
    • Ranking of main Aboriginal mother tongues in 2016 and 2011.

Language spoken at home

  • Distribution of languages spoken at home by Canadians in 2016 and 2011, single and multiple responses to Part A and Part B.
    • Variation between 2011 and 2016
  • Number of persons speaking one or more immigrant languages at home in 2016 and 2011, single and multiple responses to Part A and Part B.
    • Variation between 2011 and 2016
  • Main immigrant languages spoken at home by Canadians in 2016 and 2011.
    • Variation between 2011 and 2016
    • Top 20 immigrant languages reported in 2016 and 2011
  • Number of persons speaking one or more Aboriginal languages at home in 2016 and 2011, single and multiple responses to Part A and Part B.
    • Variation between 2011 and 2016
  • Main Aboriginal languages spoken at home by Canadians in 2016 and 2011
    • Variation between 2011 and 2016
    • Top 10 Aboriginal languages reported in 2016 and 2011

Presence of French

  • According to ability to maintain a conversation in French
  • According to mother tongue
  • According to language spoken at home
  • According to first official language spoken
    • Official language minorities
  • Numbers and proportions in 2016 and 2011
  • For Canada, Quebec and Canada outside Quebec

Presence of English

  • According to ability to maintain a conversation in English
  • According to mother tongue
  • According to language spoken at home
  • According to first official language spoken
    • Official language minorities
  • Numbers and proportions in 2016 and 2011
  • For Canada, Quebec and Canada outside Quebec

4. Products and activities available with this release

The following will be available with the Language release on August 2, 2017:

  • Analytical products
    • The Daily article
    • Census in Brief
    • Infographic
  • Data products
    • Highlight tables
    • Data tables
    • Census Profile
    • Focus on Geography Series
  • Geography products
    • GeoSearch
  • Reference products
    • Release and Concepts Overview series
    • Guide to the Census of Population, 2016
    • Census Dictionary
    • Languages Reference Guide
  • Social media
    • Facebook
    • Twitter
    • Chat with an expert (August 4, 2017)

The following provides additional details on some key products to be available at the time of the Language release. Together, they will provide main findings, important messages, latest trends and additional background information.

  • The Daily article: This will include the main results for languages in Canada in 2016 at the national, provincial and territorial levels, as well as for some large census metropolitan areas (CMAs).

  • Census in Brief: Three short analytical articles focusing on topics of current interest that raise important issues which are relevant from a public policy perspective:

    • English‒French bilingualism
    • Multilingualism and linguistic diversity
    • English, French and official language minorities
  • Infographic: This product shows some highlights for Aboriginal languages and immigrant languages, as well as French and English, in Canada.

  • Highlight tables: They present focused information for various levels of geography. These tables allow users to perform simple rank and sort functions and include percentage distributions and percentage changes from previous censuses to facilitate comparisons between years, and different geographic areas.

  • Data tables: These cross-tabulations allow for a more detailed examination of Canada, by comparing up to eight variables across various levels of geography.

  • Census Profile: This product provides key statistics about the dwellings and the people living there. Users are able to select a standard geographic area and compare two geographic areas. They can search by place name or postal code for an area of interest as large as Canada or as small as a grouping of city blocks.

  • Focus on Geography Series: This product presents highlights through short text, tables and figures for various release topics and levels of geography, including Canada, provinces and territories, census metropolitan areas (CMAs), census agglomerations (CAs) and Canadian municipalities (census subdivisions).

  • Languages Reference Guide: This guide explains census concepts and definitions. It also includes information about data quality and historical comparability, as well as comparisons with other data sources.

  • Guide to the Census of Population, 2016: This reference document provides an overview of the 2016 Census of Population processes, including content determination, collection, processing, data quality assessment, data dissemination and data suppression. It also includes response rates, global non-response rates, the distribution of the number of census subdivisions for which data have been published by province and territory and at the national level, as well as other data quality information.

    The majority of the content was released with the Population and dwelling counts release. Additional content will be added with subsequent releases.

  • Census Dictionary: This provides detailed definitions of census concepts, variables and geographic terms, as well as historical information to facilitate the comparison between census years.

    Content is released cumulatively through to November 2017, with the majority of the definitions released on May 3, 2017.

Social media activities with this release

  • Facebook, YouTube and Twitter:The official social media accounts will also be used to communicate and engage with the public for the dissemination of results from the 2016 Census of Population.

  • Chat with an expert: Users are invited to chat with Statistics Canada experts on the topics of Language, as well as Families, households and marital status, on August 4, 2017, from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m., Eastern time. For more information, refer to Statistics Canada’s website: Chat with an expert.

5. Products available after release

The following products will be available with later releases:

Analytical products

  • Articles in Insights on Canadian Society (ICS)
  • Data visualization tool. More information about this initiative will be made available during the release cycle.

Data products

  • Additional data tables at various levels of geography
  • 2016 Census Aboriginal Population Profile
  • 2016 Census Individuals Public Use Microdata File (PUMF)
  • 2016 Census Hierarchical Public Use Microdata File (PUMF)
  • 2016 Census Long-form Research Data Centre (RDC) Microdata File

Reference products

  • Reference guides (various topics)
  • Technical reports

6. 2016 Census Program web module

To access the 2016 Census of Population products, please consult the 2016 Census Program web module.

7. 2016 Census Program release schedule

Release dates, 2016 Census Program
Release date Release topic
November 16, 2016 Geography
February 8, 2017 Population and dwelling counts
May 3, 2017

Age and sex

Type of dwelling

May 10, 2017 Census of Agriculture

August 2, 2017

Families, households and marital status

Language

September 13, 2017 Income
October 25, 2017

Immigration and ethnocultural diversity

Housing

Aboriginal peoples

November 29, 2017

Education

Labour

Journey to work

Language of work

Mobility and migration

8. Contact information

General enquiries

Media Relations – Media Hotline

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