Estimates of Total Population, Canada, Provinces and Territories

Status:
Active
Frequency:
Quarterly
Record number:
3601

This estimates program provides quarterly estimates of total population for Canada, provinces and territories.

Detailed information for October 1, 2014

Data release - December 17, 2014

Description

This estimates program provides quarterly estimates of total population for Canada, provinces and territories.

This estimates program is used in the calculation of demographic, social and economic indicators. Estimated population counts play a vital role under the "Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements and Federal Post-Secondary Education and Health Contributions Act" and the "Canada Student Loans Act" in determining the amounts of federal-provincial/territorial transfers. In addition, the data helps in the determination of the annual level of immigration by the Government of Canada.

Subjects

  • Population and demography
  • Population estimates and projections

Data sources and methodology

Target population

The population universe covered by the Demographic Estimates Program is similar to the population universe of the census. The following groups of persons are included:

- Canadian citizens (by birth or by naturalization) and immigrants with a usual place of residence in Canada;

- Canadian citizens (by birth or by naturalization) and immigrants who are abroad, either on a military base or attached to a diplomatic mission;

- Canadian citizens (by birth or by naturalization) and immigrants at sea or in port aboard merchant vessels under Canadian registry or Canadian government vessels;

- persons with a usual place of residence in Canada who are claiming refugee status and members of their families living with them;

- persons with a usual place of residence in Canada who hold a study permit and members of their families living with them;

- persons with a usual place of residence in Canada who hold a work permit and members of their families living with them.

For census purposes, the last three groups in this list are referred to as non-permanent residents (NPR). They have been included in the census universe since 1991 but foreign residents are not included. Foreign residents are persons who belong to the following groups:

- government representatives of another country attached to the embassy, high commission or other diplomatic body of that country in Canada, and members of their families living with them;

- members of the Armed Forces of another country who are stationed in Canada, and members of their families living with them;

- residents of another country visiting Canada temporarily (for example, a foreign visitor on vacation or on business, with or without a visitor's permit).

Data sources

Data are extracted from administrative files and derived from other Statistics Canada surveys and/or other sources.

Postcensal estimates are produced using data from the most recent census adjusted for census net undercoverage (CNU) (including the adjustment for incompletely enumerated Indian reserves (IEIR)). Population estimates - preliminary, updated and final - are produced by the component method. This method consists in taking the population figures from the most recent census, adjusted for CNU (including IEIR), and adding or subtracting the number of births, deaths, and components of international and interprovincial migration.

Estimation

Population estimates can be either intercensal or postcensal. Intercensal estimates are produced using counts from two consecutive censuses adjusted for CNU (including adjustment for IEIR) and postcensal estimates. The production of intercensal estimates involves updating the postcensal estimates using the counts from a new census adjusted for CNU (including IEIR).

Postcensal estimates are produced using data from the most recent census adjusted for CNU (including IEIR) and the components of demographic growth (births, deaths, interprovincial and international migration). In terms of timeliness, postcensal estimates are more up-to-date than data from the most recent census adjusted for CNU (including IEIR), but as they get farther from the date of that census, they become more variable.

Estimates of population are first produced for each province and territory, and then summed to obtain an estimate of the population of Canada.

For more detailed information regarding population estimation methods, see Population and Family Estimation Methods at Statistics Canada, Demography Division, Catalogue No. 91-528-XIE or through the "Publications" sidebar above.

Quality evaluation

Measure of the precocity errors

The quality of preliminary estimates is analysed using precocity errors. Precocity error is defined as the difference between preliminary and final estimate in terms of its relative proportion of the total population. It can be calculated for both population and component estimates. Precocity error allows for useful comparisons between components, as well as between provinces and territories of different population size.

Note that when compared to the total population for an area, the differences between preliminary and final estimates of the components are quite small. There are, however, differences in the impact of this type of error on the components, the provinces and the territories.

Generally speaking, net interprovincial migration yields the greatest precocity errors. This is the result of the use of different data sources for preliminary and final estimates. In most years and for most provinces/territories, births, deaths and immigration estimates yield the smallest precocity errors. For immigration estimates, this reflects the completeness of the data source and the availability of data for more timely preliminary estimates. In the case of births and deaths, small precocity errors can be explained by the use of a different method (method of ratios) for preliminary estimates.

Measure of the error of closure

The error of closure measures the exactness level of the postcensal estimates. It can be defined as the difference between the enumerated population of the most recent census (after adjustments for CNU (including IEIR) and the most current postcensal population estimate as of Census Day.

The error of closure comes from two sources: errors mainly due to sampling from the measure of the census coverage and errors in the components of demographic growth over the intercensal period. With each 5-year intercensal period, the error of closure can only be calculated with the release of census data and estimates of CNU (including IEIR).

By dividing the error of closure by the census population adjusted for CNU, the differences are relatively small at the national level (0.16% for 2001, 0.14% for 2006 and 0.50% for 2011). At the provincial and territorial level, differences are understandably larger, since the estimates are also affected by errors in estimating interprovincial migration. Nevertheless, postcensal estimates generally fall within 1% of the adjusted census population, except for the territories and a few provinces.

For more detailed information on the quality evaluation of the demographic estimates, see Population and Family Estimation Methods at Statistics Canada, Demography Division, Catalogue 91-528-XIE.

Disclosure control

Statistics Canada is prohibited by law from releasing any information it collects which could identify any person, business, or organization, unless consent has been given by the respondent or as permitted by the Statistics Act. 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.

Revisions and seasonal adjustment

Data are revised once a year revising about eight quarters. After each census, postcensal estimates are revised to produce the intercensal estimates.

Demographic estimates are revised using birth, death and interprovincial and international migration statistics when they become available. Revisions may result in notable changes for certain components, particularly for interprovincial migration.

Interprovincial migration data are derived from two sources. Preliminary migration estimates are based on changes of addresses recorded by the Canada child tax benefit program from the Canada Revenue Agency, and are available shortly after the reference month. Final interprovincial migration estimates are based on addresses supplied on personal income tax returns, and are available a year after the reference year.

Data accuracy

The estimates contain a certain margin of inaccuracy stemming both from errors in corrections for census net undercoverage and errors arising in estimating the components. The CNU rate for Canada in the 2011 Census was 2.32%. On the basis of the quality of the data sources, the components can be divided into two categories: the first consists of births, deaths, non-permanent residents and immigration, for which the sources can be considered nearly perfect where final data are used; and the second is emigration, returning emigration, net temporary emigration and particularly, interprovincial migration, for which the methods used may be a more substantial source of error.