Census of Population

Detailed information for May 2019 (Test)




Every 5 years

Record number:


The census paints a portrait of Canada's population and the places where we live. It provides high-quality information for communities across the country and is used to plan services that support employment, education and health care.

Data release - N/A


Statistics Canada conducts the Census of Population in order to develop a statistical portrait of Canada and Canadians on one specific day. The census is designed to provide information about people and housing units in Canada by their demographic, social and economic characteristics.

The Census of Population is a reliable basis for the estimation of the population of the provinces, territories and municipal areas. The information collected is related to federal and provincial legislative measures and provides a basis for the distribution of federal transfer payments. The census also provides information about the characteristics of the population and its housing within small geographic areas and for small population groups to support planning, administration, policy development and evaluation activities of governments at all levels, as well as data users in the private sector.

Clients: Federal government, provincial and territorial governments, municipal governments; leaders and organizations of First Nations people, Inuit and Métis; libraries; educational institutions; researchers and academics; private industry; business associations; labour organisations; ethnic and cultural groups; private citizens; public interest groups are among the users of census data.

In May 2019, Statistics Canada will conduct a census test to evaluate new and modified questions along with the collection procedures and tools in preparation for the 2021 Census of Population.

A sample of approximately 250,000 dwellings has been selected to participate in this census test. Since accuracy depends on complete information, each household selected to participate in this test must, by law, complete and return their questionnaire.

Reference period: May 14th, 2019, unless otherwise specified.

Collection period: Month of May, every (5) five years


  • Education, training and learning
  • Families, households and housing
  • Immigration and ethnocultural diversity (formerly Ethnic diversity and immigration)
  • Income, pensions, spending and wealth
  • Indigenous peoples (formerly Aboriginal peoples)
  • Labour
  • Languages
  • Population and demography
  • Population estimates and projections
  • Society and community

Data sources and methodology

Target population

The census enumerates the entire Canadian population, which consists of Canadian citizens (by birth and by naturalization), landed immigrants and non-permanent residents and their families living with them in Canada. Non-permanent residents are persons who hold a work or student permit, or who have claimed refugee status (asylum seekers).

The census also counts Canadian citizens and landed immigrants who are temporarily outside the country on census day. This includes federal and provincial government employees working outside Canada, Canadian embassy staff posted to other countries, members of the Canadian Forces stationed abroad, all Canadian crew members of merchant vessels and their families. Because people outside the country are enumerated, the Census of Canada is considered a modified de jure census.

Foreign residents such as representatives of a foreign government assigned to an embassy, high commission or other diplomatic mission in Canada, and residents of another country who are visiting Canada temporarily are not covered by the census.

The census long-form includes the same target population as the short-form census, with the exception of Canadian citizens living temporarily in other countries; full-time members of the Canadian Forces stationed outside Canada; persons living in institutional collective dwellings such as hospitals, nursing homes and penitentiaries; and persons living in non-institutional collective dwellings such as work camps, hotels and motels, and student residences.

Generally speaking, the 2019 Census Test has the same target population as the census but the sample for the census test is limited to areas where Statistics Canada relies on Canada Post to deliver the census material, with few exceptions in five provinces where specific field activities are being tested. The test also excludes persons who live in the territories; persons who live on Indian reserves and in other Indian settlements; Canadian citizens living in other countries; and full-time members of the Canadian Forces stationed outside Canada. All collective types are included in the 400 collective dwelling sample, with the exception of hutterite colonies.

Instrument design

Consulting with census data users and the Canadian public allows Statistics Canada to identify whether or not the questions asked in the census are relevant, how census data are used and how important the census is to Canadians. A formal consultation is set at the start of each census cycle. During that time, Statistics Canada invites data users, stakeholders and the general public to provide feedback on what information they use, for what purpose and what, if any, data gaps Statistics Canada should consider addressing in the next census cycle.

Statistics Canada conducted a content consultation from September 2017 to May 2018. It involved an online consultation and face-to-face discussions with federal departments, provincial and territorial ministries and organizations, municipal governments, First Nations, Inuit and Métis individuals, leadership and organizations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), researchers and academia, businesses and the general public.

Factors considered in developing content include legislative requirements for information, program and policy needs, the burden on the respondent in answering the questions, privacy concerns, input from consultations and testing, data quality, costs and operational considerations, historical comparability, and the availability of alternate data sources.

Following consultation, Statistics Canada qualitatively tested new and modified questions with the help of Statistics Canada's Questionnaire Design Resource Center (QDRC). These qualitative tests were conducted in the spring and fall of 2018.

The 2019 Census Test is the final stage of census testing. As a result of the consultation and the qualitative testing, Statistics Canada refined the new and modified questions. The 2019 Census Test will quantitatively test these questions to ensure data quality and continued relevance of the census content.


The 2019 Census Test will have a sample consisting of approximately 250,000 dwellings.

A portion of the 250,000 dwellings are split among a number of panels to measure the impact of various proposed changes to census content. Each panel will receive different questionnaire versions or will be contacted through different collection methods. This portion of the sample is selected in a way that ensures coverage of a variety of geographic areas and of multiple response modes (Internet and paper) while taking into account operational constraints. The remaining sample consists of dwellings in selected areas in five provinces where field collection procedures and systems are being tested.

Data sources

Data collection for this reference period: 2019-05-06 to 2019-06-28

Responding to this survey is mandatory.

Data are collected directly from survey respondents.

The 2019 Census Test reference date is May 14, 2019

Collection includes response by Internet, paper, the Census Help Line, and non-response follow-up.

To enhance the data from this survey and to reduce the response burden, Statistics Canada combines the information collected in the census with data from immigration records and personal income tax and benefit data. For the 2019 Census Test, Statistics Canada will combine the data with these administrative records or with data from other surveys or administrative sources in order to evaluate the quality and relevance of new or modified questions.

View the Questionnaire(s) and reporting guide(s).

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