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

Detailed information for July 1, 2004





Record number:


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

Data release - September 29, 2004


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, nuptiality rates, divorce 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.


  • 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;

- 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).

Foreign residents have not been enumerated since 1991. 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).

Instrument design

Not applicable.


This methodology does not apply.

Data sources

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

Postcensal estimates are obtained by the component method, using the most recent census of population (record no. 3901) adjusted to July 1 and for net census undercount as the base population. For example, to estimate the population as of July 1 of a non-census year, demographic events experienced by each cohort since the previous Census have to be taken into account. To the base population count, births, immigrants and net change of non-permanent residents are added, and deaths and total emigrants are subtracted. It is also necessary to add the interprovincial net migration. This produces a postcensal estimate of total population as July 1 of the non-census year considered. The components of population change are estimated on the basis of data gleaned from various sources.

Error detection

This methodology type does not apply to this statistical program.


No imputation is done for this statistical program.


Demographic estimates can be categorized as either intercensal or postcensal. Intercensal estimates correspond to estimates between censuses, whereas postcensal estimates correspond to non-census years after the most recent census. In producing up-to-date figures, postcensal estimates are obviously more timely, albeit less accurate. The production of intercensal estimates involves the retrospective adjustment of past figures with the availability of new census data.

Postcensal estimates are obtained by adding the number of births, subtracting the number of deaths and by adding or subtracting the net impact of international and internal migration on the most recent census population adjusted for census coverage error (i.e. both census undercount and census overcount). The inclusion of non-permanent residents in the target population dictates that net change in the size of this subpopulation in Canada be added or subtracted from the base period.

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 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.

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 of a particular component in terms of its relative proportion of the total population for the relevant geographical area. 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 or geographical areas 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 amount of impact on the population estimates between components and between provinces and territories.

Generally speaking, net interprovincial migration yields the greatest precocity errors. This is likely 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 yielded the smallest precocity errors. For immigration estimates, this reflects the completeness of the data source and the availability of data for the more timely preliminary estimates. For immigration estimates, this reflects the completeness of the data source and the ready availability of data for the more timely preliminary estimates. In the case of births and deaths, small precocity errors support the use of short-term projections 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 census net undercoverage (CNU)) and the most current postcensal population estimates as of Census Day.

The error of closure comes from two sources: The relative differences in the amount of CNU 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.

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 and 0.32% for 2006). 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, except for the territories that fall within closer adjustments.

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 that 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 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; 2) imperfections in other data sources and 3) 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.

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