Estimates of Population by Age and Sex for Canada, Provinces and Territories

Detailed information for July 1, 2016





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This estimates program provides annual estimates of population by age and sex for Canada, provinces and territories.

Data release - September 28, 2016


This estimates program provides annual estimates of population by age and sex for Canada, provinces and territories.

This estimates program is used in the calculation of demographic, social and economic indicators (fertility rates, mortality rates, unemployment rates, school enrolment rates, etc.) in which the population, or a part thereof, serves as the denominator. These data are used in calculation of weights for use in Statistics Canada's Surveys (Labour Force Survey, General Social Survey, Survey of Labour and Income Dynamics, etc.). They are also used in the determination of the annual level of immigration by the Government of Canada. In addition, the data are used as base population for Statistics Canada's population projections. 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.
Postcensal estimates are based on the 2011 Census counts adjusted for census net undercoverage and incompletely enumerated Indian reserves.


  • 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 the family members living with them;
- persons with a usual place of residence in Canada who hold study permits and the family members living with them;
- persons with a usual place of residence in Canada who hold work permits and the family members living with them.

For census purposes, these last three groups of people are referred to as 'non-permanent residents.' They have been included since 1991. Foreign residents are excluded from the population universe. 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 family members 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)) and adjusted to July 1st (record no. 3901). Population estimates - preliminary, updated and final - are produced by the component method. This method consists in taking the population figures and adding or subtracting the number of births, deaths, and components of international and interprovincial migration. For example, to estimate the population as of July 1 of a non-census year, demographic events experienced by each cohort (defined here as the total number of persons born during the same census year) since the previous census have to be taken into account.


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.

Postcensal estimates of population by age and sex are produced following essentially the same approach as that of total population but applied to each age and sex cohort in the reference population.

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 demographic estimates of components 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 postcensal 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 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 periods 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 final 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 estimates 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, the provincial/territorial final postcensal estimates generally fall within 1% of the adjusted census population (for the total 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 and 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 of population by age and sex contain certain inaccuracies stemming from (1) errors in corrections for census net undercoverage and (2) imperfections in other data sources and the methods used to estimate the components. Errors due to estimation methodologies and data sources other than censuses are difficult to quantify but not insignificant. The more detailed the breakdown of the data, the larger the inaccuracy coefficient becomes. The component totals contain a certain amount of initial error, and the methodology used to classify them by sex and age produces additional error in the figures at each stage. Nevertheless, the components can be divided into two categories according to the quality of their data sources: births, deaths, immigration and non-permanent residents, for which the sources of final data may be considered very good; emigrants, returning emigrants, net temporary emigrants and interprovincial migration for which the methods used may be a more substantial source of error. Lastly, the size of the error due to component estimation may vary by province, sex, and age and errors in some components (births and emigration) may have a greater impact on a given age group or sex. Intercensal estimates contain the same types of errors as postcensal estimates, as well as errors resulting from the way in which the errors present at the end of the period were distributed, that is, on the basis of the time elapsed since the reference census.


  • Population and Family Estimation Methods at Statistics Canada
    The Population and Family Estimation Methods guide provides detailed descriptions of the data sources and methods used by Statistics Canada to estimate population. They comprise Postcensal and intercensal population estimates; base population; births and deaths; immigration; emigration; non-permanent residents; interprovincial migration; subprovincial estimates of population; population estimates by age, sex and marital status; and census family estimates.

    Last review : January 16, 2017.
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