Release and Concepts Overview
2016 Census of Population:

Release date: August 31, 2017

Table of contents

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 Housing release, which will be on October 25, 2017.

The information provided in this overview is subject to change.

2. Concepts and definitions: Housing

Dwelling characteristics

Dwelling characteristics refer to the physical attributes of the living quarters occupied by the household. The following information was collected for the 2016 Census of Population: number of rooms, number of bedrooms, period of construction, dwelling condition, condominium status and value (owner estimated) of dwelling. Dwelling characteristics, except the value of the dwelling, are disseminated for all occupied private dwellings.

Note: Unless otherwise specified, all data are for private dwellings occupied by usual residents. “Private dwellings occupied by usual residents” are also referred to as “occupied private dwellings” in certain census products.

Household characteristics

Household characteristics refer to characteristics of the person or group of persons occupying the private dwelling. Household characteristics collected for the 2016 Census of Population that are commonly used in housing analysis include tenure, household size, household total income and household type. Household characteristics were collected for all private households. Information was also collected for the 2016 Census of Population to identify the household maintainers, that is, which household members paid the shelter costs. A common approach in housing analysis is to examine the characteristics of the primary household maintainer (such as age) in relation to dwelling characteristics, shelter costs and other household characteristics.


In addition to making data available for Canada, the following other levels of geography will be available:

  1. Province or territory
  2. Census metropolitan area (CMA)
  3. Census agglomeration (CA)
  4. Census division (CD)
  5. Census subdivision (CSD)
  6. Census tract (CT)
  7. Population centre (POPCTR)
  8. Statistical Area Classification (SAC)
  9. Federal electoral district (FED)
  10. Economic region (ER)
  11. Forward sortation area (FSA)©
  12. Designated place (DPL)
  13. Aggregate dissemination area (ADA) (new!)
  14. Dissemination area (DA)

3. Key indicators

Housing adequacy

The housing adequacy indicator is derived from the dwelling condition variable. Dwellings in need of major repairs are considered an indicator of inadequate housing by housing organizations, including the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). Adequate housing does not require any major repairs, as reported by residents. Major repairs include those to defective plumbing or electrical wiring, or structural repairs to walls, floors or ceilings.

Housing suitability

The housing suitability of a dwelling is based on the National Occupancy Standard (NOS) developed by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). The housing suitability indicator classifies dwellings as “not suitable” if they do not have enough bedrooms for the size and composition of the household, as calculated using the NOS. Dwellings that are not suitable are also further classified by the shortfall in the number of bedrooms when compared with the required number of bedrooms based on the NOS.

Housing affordability

The shelter-cost-to-income ratio, a measure of housing affordability, refers to the proportion of average household total income that is spent on shelter costs. According to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), when a household spends less than 30% of before-tax household income on shelter costs, the household is considered to be in affordable housing. Shelter costs include the following:

  • For renters: rent and any payments for electricity, fuel, water and other municipal services
  • For owners: mortgage payments (principal and interest), property taxes, and any condominium fees, along with payments for electricity, fuel, water and other municipal services.

4. Products and activities available with this release

The following will be available with the Housing release on October 25, 2017:

  • Analytical products
    • The Daily article
    • Infographic
  • Data products
    • Highlight tables
    • Data tables
    • Census Profile
    • Focus on Geography Series
  • Geography product
    • GeoSearch

  • Reference products
    • Release and Concepts Overview series
    • Guide to the Census of Population, 2016
    • Census Dictionary
    • Housing Reference Guide
  • Social media
    • Facebook
    • Twitter
    • Chat with an expert (October 30, 2017)

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

  • The Daily article: This will provide main findings and important messages about the Housing topic such as homeownership trends and regional variations in Canada.

  • Infographic: This will allow users to quickly visualize some key findings on housing from the 2016 Census of Population.

  • 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).

  • Housing Reference Guide: This guide explains census concepts and changes made for the 2016 Census. 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 previous census releases; additional content will be added with the Housing and 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 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 Housing and Aboriginal peoples on October 30, 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


September 13, 2017 Income
October 25, 2017

Immigration and ethnocultural diversity


Aboriginal peoples

November 29, 2017



Journey to work

Language of work

Mobility and migration

8. Contact information

General enquiries

Media Relations – Media Hotline

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