Guide to the Census of Population, 2021
Appendix 1.3 ‒ Information produced from the 2021 Census of Population

Who is included in the population of Canada?

The Census of Population aims to produce counts for the total population of Canada. This ‘target population’ consists of: Canadian citizens (by birth or by naturalization); landed immigrants (permanent residents); and (since 1991) non-permanent residents. (Non-permanent residents are persons who have claimed refugee status [asylum claimants], or persons who hold a work or study permit and their family members living with them). All such persons are included in the population provided they have a usual place of residence in Canada (see Where are people counted?).

The total population also includes certain Canadian citizens and landed immigrants (permanent residents) living outside the country: government employees working outside Canada; embassy staff posted to other countries; members of the Canadian Armed Forces stationed outside Canada; and Canadian crew members of merchant vessels and their families. Together, they are referred to as ‘persons living outside Canada.’

Foreign residents are excluded from census data: for example, residents of another country visiting Canada temporarily, government representatives of another country posted in Canada and members of the armed forces of another country stationed in Canada.

Where are people counted?

The census counts people according to their usual place of residence. The 2021 Census questionnaire included questions and instructions to determine either the person’s sole residence or their main residence as of May 11, 2021. This location is then used in all data products by geographic area. It is also used to determine which people reside in the same dwelling together—an important aspect of census data. For more detailed information about usual place of residence, refer to the Dictionary, Census of Population, 2021, Statistics Canada, Catalogue no. 98‑301‑X.

Who is included in the disseminated data for each topic?

Between the different topics released from the census, there are slight differences in what is included in the data. Refer to Table A1.3.1 for an illustration of the different statistical units and population of interest by the topics covered in the Census of Population.

Table A1.3.1
Statistical units and population of interest for the dissemination of the 2021 Census of Population, by topic
Table summary
This table displays the results of Statistical units and population of interest for the dissemination of the 2021 Census of Population. The information is grouped by Topic (appearing as row headers), Statistical unit and Maximum population of interest available (appearing as column headers).
Topic Statistical unit Maximum population of interest available
Population counts Persons Total population
Dwelling counts Dwellings Private dwellingsTable 1 Note 1
Type of dwelling
(collective or private)
Dwellings, persons Occupied dwellingsTable 1 Note 1 (or population in occupied dwellings)
Age, sex at birth and gender Persons Total population
Marital status Persons Total population
Families and households Persons, families and households Private households (or population in private households, or families in private households)
Canadian military experience Persons Total population aged 17 and over
Languages Persons Total population
Instruction in the minority official language Persons Total population
Income Persons, families and households Private households (or population in private households, or families in private households)
Immigration, place of birth and citizenship Persons Population in private households
Ethnocultural and religious diversity Persons Population in private households
Housing Households, persons Private households (or population in private households)
Indigenous peoples Persons Population in private households
Education Persons Population aged 15 and over in private households
Labour Persons Population aged 15 and over in private households
Commuting Persons Employed population aged 15 and over in private households
Language of work Persons Population aged 15 and over in private households
Mobility and migration Persons Population in private households

Generally, topics included in the short-form questionnaire directed to the ‘target’ population are available for the total population. Additional questions are asked on the long-form questionnaire to the population in private households, which is the total population, excluding persons living outside Canada (as described above) and excluding persons living in collective dwellings. Collective dwellings are classified as either institutional, such as hospitals, nursing homes and penitentiaries, or non-institutional, such as work camps, hotels and motels, and student residences.

Depending on the characteristics being portrayed, the data may represent these statistical units:

For more information about the specific statistical units and the population of interest for each variable, refer to the Dictionary, Census of Population, 2021, Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 98‑301‑X.

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