The road to the 2021 Census

There are many milestones along the road to the 2021 Census. Evaluating and revising the content of the 2021 Census questionnaire through content consultations and the 2019 Census Test ensures the continued relevance of the census. Census information is used to make decisions for your community, your province or territory, and the country as a whole.

2021 Census of Population questionnaire—What's new

The 2021 Census content was published in the Canada Gazette on July 17, 2020.

To serve the information needs of our various audiences, Statistics Canada publishes three types of documents:

  • a series of informative fact sheets on census content
  • three in-depth technical reports
  • a census book titled Painting a Portrait of Canada: The 2021 Census of Population, which provides a comprehensive overview of the 2021 Census

Note: Statistics Canada has published the 2021 Census of Population short-form (2A) and long-form (2A-L, 2A-R) questionnaires on its website.

Fact sheets

This series of fact sheets offers an overview of content changes for the 2021 Census. These concise documents explain why new and modified questions are asked and describe the changes considered along with the resulting approach for 2021. There are five fact sheets on new and modified content and one fact sheet on the 2019 Census Content Test: Design and methodology.

Note: Statistics Canada is aware that COVID-19 may have an impact on the way Canadians answer some of the census questions, including those on employment, education, commuting and expenditures. Statistics Canada is developing helpful guidelines to assist Canadians in their responses to these specific questions, given the COVID-19 impacts on households.

The following five fact sheets—and their enclosed topics—explain the new and updated content of the 2021 Census questionnaire:

Technical reports

Data users, stakeholders and key interest groups can refer to any of these three technical reports for more in-depth information, including the census test findings on sex at birth and gender, ethnic or cultural origins, and minority language educational rights. A link to each of these technical reports can also be found within its corresponding fact sheet.

Painting a Portrait of Canada: The 2021 Census of Population

This comprehensive document outlines Statistics Canada's planned approach to the 2021 Census of Population and provides a clear explanation of the processes behind the Census Program, including historical, legal, operational and content aspects. Painting a Portrait of Canada: The 2021 Census of Population gives readers an exclusive, detailed look at how census data are collected, analyzed and released to Canadians in the form of high-quality statistical information that is used to make evidence-based decisions across Canada.

Video: Making informed decisions with census data

Making informed decisions with census data - Transcript

Description of visuals

(The Statistics Canada symbol and Canada wordmark appear onscreen with the title "Making informed decisions with census data.")

(A laptop appears on screen with an online census form that is partially filled out. The form's selections (shown as black dots) then begin to fly off the laptop screen and towards the camera, turning the screen black.)

How are communities in Canada evolving? How is our society changing? Without census data, it's hard to know.

(The census dots fly away to reveal a town. The landscape, trees and buildings come into view one by one. The buildings include a school, a hospital, a cafe and several family homes. The census dots fly back on screen, once again turning it black.)

The high-quality data from the census allow our governments, businesses and community leaders to make informed decisions with confidence.

(The dots fly away to reveal charts and data being used in a presentation by a government official. The scene slides away to reveal two business professionals holding a tablet with census data on it. This scene also slides away to reveal a pair of hands holding blueprints to a new school. The blueprints are moved downwards to reveal the newly built school.)

The Census paints a portrait of who we are and the places where we live.

(The census dots then cover the screen and fly away to reveal three towns and cities connected by a road that is being built while the morning sun rises in the sky.)

(The census dots fly on screen, turning it black.)

How can census data support business owners? Sarah, a successful entrepreneur, is looking to open a business in a new location.

(The census dots fly away to reveal an office, including a desk with a computer, a plant and an entrepreneur named Sarah. A thought bubble appears above Sarah's head and an image of a cafe appears in it.)

(The census dots cover the screen and fly away to reveal a computer on a desk seen from Sarah's perspective.)

She knows that Statistics Canada's census data will allow her to make informed decisions.

(Census data appear on screen as Sarah searches through the pages. The census dots appear from behind a pie chart.)

(They fly towards the screen and turn it black.)

Census information such as population counts, age, sex, income and types of households will help her find potential locations across the country and make a solid business case for expansion in a new location.

(The census dots fly away to reveal a new cafe popping up along a street as a car and a school bus drive past. The camera zooms in on the cafe as Sarah and a red ribbon appear at an opening ceremony. It zooms in closer as Sarah cuts the ribbon with a pair of scissors, then the census dots fly on screen towards the camera and turn the screen black.)

Community leaders rely on census data to make informed decisions on programs and services that directly impact their municipalities.

(The census dots fly away to reveal a row of houses along a street. In the background, a school, a hospital, a cafe, skyscrapers and several small family homes pop up one by one.)

Let's look at overcrowding in schools as an example.

(An office window appears in front of the scene of the town.)

Municipal and provincial governments can use census data to look at population counts, age, and types of families in their region.

(The camera pans to the right to reveal a cubicle with two office workers researching census data on their computers. Census dots slowly fly from their screens and around the room.)

Population change can also be used, along with other census data, to identify areas of growth, stability or decline.

(Hands holding a tablet with a map of Canada appear on screen. Small census dots begin to pop up, marking several towns and cities on the map. Plus, equal and minus symbols appear next to the map, denoting positive, balanced and negative population trends in census data.)

(Census dots fly from the map towards the screen and turn it black. The census dots fly away to reveal a road with hills and trees in the background.)

This will help them decide whether they should build a new school or expand existing ones.

(A brand new modern school slides in from the right and stays on screen for several seconds before sliding off to the left. An older school slides in from the right, replacing the new one. It moves slightly to the left and a new addition to the building slides out from behind it.)

Finding data to identify trends and potential needs is easy with online census data products.

(A tablet appears and the title "Population" and a bar graph can be seen on it. The bars rise up from the bottom of the graph and continue to adjust as the data change.)

(The census dots fly on screen and turn it black. The census dots fly off screen to reveal a green room, then a desk, a painting and a laptop slide on screen.)

With the wealth of census data available online, how do you get started and find the information you're looking for? It's easy: Go to

(The office scene goes out of focus as a hand holding a cell phone appears. The census website ( is typed into the search bar on the phone, opening a web page titled "Census Program".)

Access our "Data products" from the Information and services section and choose the product that works best for you.

(The cell phone user scrolls down the page to the section "Information and services", then clicks "Data products".)

Search by place name or topic and find the data you need in our census maps, graphs, charts and tables Take note and make informed decisions!

(A new page with a search bar pops up and the user types "Ottawa" into the field. A map and population chart for Ottawa appear on screen.)

(The census dots fly on screen and turn it black.)

Still have questions?

(They then fly away and turn red.)

Reach us via our "Contact us" link at

(The red census dots fly towards the centre of the screen and come together to form the census leaf. The census website ( appears beneath the leaf and slowly increases in size before the census dots fly on screen and turn it black.)

(The Canada Wordmark appears.)

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