Guide to the Census of Population, 2021
Chapter 10 – Dissemination

Introduction

The main goal of the Census of Population dissemination process is to ensure that census and geography products and services meet the primary needs of the majority of data users. Similar to previous Census of Population releases, Statistics Canada strives to provide more data free of charge to the public, while at the same time seeking ways of publishing census results in a timely and user-friendly manner. The first results from the 2021 Census of Population will be made available to data users on February 9, 2022. All major releases of standard products are scheduled to take place in 2022, with value-added features integrated into existing data products. As well, additional analysis and other products will continue being released beyond 2022. These include the public use microdata files (PUMFs), additional reference materials and data tables.

How census data are used

Governments, businesses, associations, community organizations and many others use census data extensively. The following are some examples:

Overview of 2021 Census of Population products and services

Products and services from the 2016 Census Program were evaluated through consultation with data users in the 2021 Census Dissemination Consultation Results: What we heard from Canadians and through the analysis of web metrics for their continued usefulness and relevance in 2021.

The 2021 Census of Population products and services are meant to:

The 2021 Census of Population products and services line consists of five main types of products and services:

(1) Data products

These products and services have been designed to present a wide range of census information, including population and dwelling counts, and data by variable and topic. These products are released for standard geographic areas and include:

Indicators are also available on Statistics Canada’s Census Program module, highlighting some key facts and figures at the national and provincial/territorial level.

To enrich the user experience with census data, new functionalities will be built into selected products, which will make it easier to work with the data.

(2) Analytical products

These products, specifically designed for the electronic medium, provide data and interpretation for selected characteristics on key findings from 2021 Census topics. Analysis products include:

(3) Reference products

These products are designed to help users make the most of census data. They cover various aspects of the census and are intended to support the use of the data by giving users a better understanding of the methods and concepts used. The list of reference products includes:

(4) Geography products

Geography products for the 2021 Census reflect both the changes to geography concepts and the more precise geometry and more detailed base map visible features (such as water, roads and road names).

The list of geography products includes:

Reference documents:

Maps:

Spatial information products:

Attribute information products:

(5) Custom services

These services allow for products and services to be tailored to more specific and complex requests that cannot otherwise be accommodated by the standard products. User-defined tabulation services are made available upon the release of each variable.

Custom data services include the following:

Custom geography services include the following:

Connecting with Canadians

Statistics Canada continues to use traditional and new media to provide access to relevant, accurate and timely statistical information, and to foster engagement, cooperation and information-sharing among people who use statistical information. For 2021, the Census of Population is engaging with Canadians to ensure the general public and key stakeholders are aware of information and resources such as data, infographics, videos and analytical products, available from census releases. Various channels will be used to communicate updates to Canadians including social media platforms, blogs, newsletters and virtual sessions with subject matter experts. A list of different resources to use to stay up to date on Statistics Canada information can be found on the “Stay connected” web page. Statistics Canada will also continue to engage with stakeholders such as media and key data users regarding census releases through tailored tactics and activities to maximize the reach of census data, strengthen partnerships and reinforce the value of statistical information.

Availability of products and services

For 2021, census data will continue to be disseminated primarily via the Internet through Statistics Canada's website. Each data release will be summarized and published in The Daily, Statistics Canada’s official release bulletin.

Seven official 2021 Census of Population data releases are scheduled between February 9 and November 30, 2022.

Table 10.1
2021 Census of Population major release dates by release theme
Table summary
This table displays the results of 2021 Census of Population major release dates by release theme . The information is grouped by Release theme (appearing as row headers), Release date (appearing as column headers).
Release theme Release date
Canada’s growing population and where they are living February 9, 2022
Canada’s shifting demographic profile April 27, 2022
Portrait of Canada’s families and households July 13, 2022
Canadian military experience
Income profile of Canadians
Linguistic diversity and use of English and French in Canada August 17, 2022
First Nations people, Métis and Inuit in Canada September 21, 2022
Canada’s housing portrait
Portrait of citizenship and immigration in Canada October 26, 2022
Ethnocultural and religious composition of the population
Mobility and migration
Education in Canada November 30, 2022
The changing dynamics of the Canadian labour force and how people get to work
Instruction in the minority official language
Table 10.2
2021 Census of Population major release dates by release topic
Table summary
This table displays the results of 2021 Census of Population major release dates by release topic. The information is grouped by Release topic (appearing as row headers), Release date (appearing as column headers).
Release topic Release date
Population and dwelling counts February 9, 2022
Age April 27, 2022
Sex at birth and gender
Type of dwelling
Families, households and marital status July 13, 2022
Canadian military experience
Income
Language August 17, 2022
Indigenous peoples September 21, 2022
Housing
Immigration, place of birth and citizenship October 26, 2022
Ethnocultural and religious diversity
Mobility and migration
Education November 30, 2022
Labour
Language of work
Commuting
Instruction in the minority official language

In addition, there are two 2021 Census geography product releases scheduled for November 17, 2021 and February 9, 2022. A Census of Agriculture release is also scheduled for May 11, 2022.

For a complete list of release dates, refer to the 2021 Census Program release schedule.

Protecting privacy

Published census data go through a variety of automated and manual processes to determine whether the data need to be suppressed. This is done primarily to ensure that the identity and characteristics of respondents are not disclosed, a concept that will be referred to as confidentiality.

Overview of suppression for confidentiality reasons

Confidentiality refers to the assurance that Statistics Canada will not disclose any information that could identify respondents. Various confidentiality rules are applied to all data that are released or published to prevent the publication or disclosure of any information deemed confidential. If necessary, data are suppressed to prevent direct or residual disclosure of identifiable data. Consequently, data for geographic areas with a population below a certain threshold are not published.

Random rounding

All counts in census tabulations undergo random rounding, a process that transforms all raw counts into randomly rounded counts. This reduces the possibility of identifying individuals in the tabulations.

Preventing disclosure

The risk of direct or residual disclosure must also be addressed when determining product content. A number of factors must be considered when assessing the risk of disclosure. The detail of individual variables, cross-classification of variables and geographic level of the data will all contribute to the level of risk. For example, there may be no risk in producing tables with the number of persons in the dwelling and detailed groupings of age by various characteristics of the household members for large geographic areas. However, the risk of disclosure would increase for lower levels of geography.

Area suppression for standard and non-standard geographic areas

Area suppression is used to remove all characteristic data for geographic areas whose population size is below a certain threshold. The population size threshold for all standard areas or aggregations of standard areas is 40, except for blocks, blockfaces and postal codeOM defined areas. Consequently, no characteristics or tabulated data are released if the total population of the area is less than 40. However, for six-character postal codeOM areas, and areas built from the block or blockface, the population size threshold is 100. These population size thresholds are applied to 2021 Census data as well as to all previous census data.

Additional area suppression is applied for confidentiality reasons when using income data in census tabulations. Estimates of income data are suppressed for areas where the population in private households is less than 250 or where the number of private households is less than 40.

Coverage of data published from the 2021 Census short-form questionnaire

Canada has a total of 152 census metropolitan areas and census agglomerations, and 2021 Census data are available for all of these areas in the standard products. In addition, the 2021 Census short-form questionnaire standard products are available for all 293 census divisions and 338 federal electoral districts.

For census subdivisions (CSDs) or municipalities, 2021 Census data can be published for the vast majority. As a result, short-form questionnaire counts are published in the standard products for 4,554 CSDs, representing 88.2% of the 5,161 CSDs (counts for those with a population of less than 40 are not published for confidentiality reasons, and counts for 63 CSDs are not available because of incomplete or partial enumeration). Table 10.3 shows the distribution of the total number of CSDs and the number of CSDs for which data have been published, by province and territory. Table 10.4 shows the distribution of the total number of CSDs and the number of CSDs for which income data have been published, by province and territory.

Table 10.3
Number of census subdivisions with 2021 Census short-form questionnaire data, Canada, provinces and territories
Table summary
This table displays the results of Number of census subdivisions with 2021 Census short-form questionnaire data. The information is grouped by Region (appearing as row headers), Total number of census subdivisions and Census subdivisions for which data have been published, calculated using number, percent and population covered (%) units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Region Total number of census subdivisions Census subdivisions for which data have been published
number percent population covered (%)
Canada 5,161 4,554 88.2 99.99
Newfoundland and Labrador 372 356 95.7 99.96
Prince Edward Island 98 97 99.0 99.98
Nova Scotia 95 84 88.4 99.99
New Brunswick 266 258 97.0 99.98
Quebec 1,282 1,168 91.1 100.00
Ontario 577 539 93.4 100.00
Manitoba 239 214 89.5 99.99
Saskatchewan 951 833 87.6 99.87
Alberta 423 387 91.5 99.99
British Columbia 751 537 71.5 99.97
Yukon 35 23 65.7 99.63
Northwest Territories 41 33 80.5 99.73
Nunavut 31 25 80.6 99.95
Table 10.4
Number of census subdivisions with 2021 Census short-form questionnaire income data, Canada, provinces and territories
Table summary
This table displays the results of Number of census subdivisions with 2021 Census short-form questionnaire income data. The information is grouped by Region (appearing as row headers), Total number of census subdivisions and Census subdivisions for which income data have been published, calculated using number and percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Region Total number of census subdivisions Census subdivisions for which income data have been published
number percent
Canada 5,161 3,660 70.9
Newfoundland and Labrador 372 242 65.1
Prince Edward Island 98 72 73.5
Nova Scotia 95 78 82.1
New Brunswick 266 249 93.6
Quebec 1,282 1,089 84.9
Ontario 577 478 82.8
Manitoba 239 189 79.1
Saskatchewan 951 532 55.9
Alberta 423 290 68.6
British Columbia 751 379 50.5
Yukon 35 16 45.7
Northwest Territories 41 23 56.1
Nunavut 31 23 74.2

Coverage of data published for the 2021 Census long-form questionnaire

For the 2021 Census, the primary quality indicator that accompanies each disseminated output is the total non-response (TNR) rate—which replaced the global non-response rate (GNR) that was used for the 2016 Census of Population and for previous cycles. In previous census cycles, areas with a GNR above a certain threshold were suppressed from disseminated products (the threshold used in 2016 was 50%). Suppression of data based on quality was discontinued in 2021. However, it is recommended that data from areas with a TNR rate above 50% be used with caution. For additional information about the quality indicators, users are encouraged to consult the 2021 Census Data Quality Guidelines, Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 98‑26‑0006. Standard products for the 2021 Census long-form questionnaire are available for all 293 census divisions (CDs) and all 338 federal electoral districts (FEDs).

Long-form questionnaire estimates are published in the standard products for 4,517 CSDs, representing 87.5% of the 5,161 CSDs. These 4,517 CSDs have a population of more than 40 inhabitants (data on those with a population of fewer than 40 inhabitants are not published for confidentiality reasons, and counts for 63 CSDs are not available because of incomplete or partial enumeration). Table 10.5 shows the distribution of the total number of CSDs and the number of CSDs for which data have been published, by province and territory. Table 10.6 shows the distribution of the total number of CSDs for which income data have been published, by province and territory.

Table 10.5
Number of census subdivisions with 2021 Census long-form questionnaire data, Canada, provinces and territories
Table summary
This table displays the results of Number of census subdivisions with 2021 Census long-form questionnaire data. The information is grouped by Region (appearing as row headers), Total number of census subdivisions and Census subdivisions for which data have been published, calculated using number, percent and population covered (%) units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Region Total number of census subdivisions Census subdivisions for which data have been published
number percent population covered (%)
Canada 5,161 4,517 87.5 98.2
Newfoundland and Labrador 372 350 94.1 98.3
Prince Edward Island 98 97 99.0 97.5
Nova Scotia 95 84 88.4 98.6
New Brunswick 266 258 97.0 97.9
Quebec 1,282 1,162 90.6 97.7
Ontario 577 539 93.4 98.6
Manitoba 239 213 89.1 97.4
Saskatchewan 951 814 85.6 97.4
Alberta 423 384 98.0 98.0
British Columbia 751 536 98.3 98.3
Yukon 35 22 98.4 98.4
Northwest Territories 41 33 98.3 98.3
Nunavut 31 25 99.3 99.3
Table 10.6
Number of census subdivisions with 2021 Census long-form questionnaire income data, Canada, provinces and territories
Table summary
This table displays the results of Number of census subdivisions with 2021 Census long-form questionnaire income data. The information is grouped by Region (appearing as row headers), Total number of census subdivisions and Census subdivisions for which income data have been published, calculated using number and percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Region Total number of census subdivisions Census subdivisions for which income data have been published
number percent
Canada 5,161 3,610 69.9
Newfoundland and Labrador 372 233 62.6
Prince Edward Island 98 72 73.5
Nova Scotia 95 78 82.1
New Brunswick 266 246 92.5
Quebec 1,282 1,083 84.5
Ontario 577 473 82.0
Manitoba 239 189 79.1
Saskatchewan 951 511 53.7
Alberta 423 287 67.8
British Columbia 751 376 50.1
Yukon 35 16 45.7
Northwest Territories 41 23 56.1
Nunavut 31 23 74.2
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