Census of Population

Detailed information for May 2014 (Test)




Every 5 years

Record number:


The census is designed to provide information about the demographic and social characteristics of the people living in Canada and the housing/dwelling units they occupy.

In May 2014, Statistics Canada is testing questionnaire content and the collection methodology in preparation for the 2016 Census. Testing ensures that quality data are available to support a wide variety of programs including healthcare and education.


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

The Census of Population is the basis for the population estimates for the provinces, territories and municipalities. The information collected supports federal and provincial legislation. The population estimates from the decennial census are used to determine the distribution of federal transfer payments to the provinces and territories. The census also provides information about the characteristics of the population for small geographic areas to support planning, administration, policy development and evaluation activities of governments at all levels, as well as data users in the private sector.

Federal government, provincial and territorial governments, municipal governments; libraries; educational institutions; researchers and academics; private industry; business associations; labour organizations; ethnic, cultural and other public interest groups; and private citizens are among the users of census data.

In May 2014, Statistics Canada is testing questionnaire content and the collection methodology in preparation for the 2016 Census. Testing ensures that quality data are available to support a wide variety of programs including healthcare and education.

A random sample of 55,000 dwellings (across Canada) has been selected to participate in this Census Test. All households chosen for this test will be asked to respond to 10 census questions. Some households have been selected to answer additional questions as part of the voluntary National Household Survey (NHS).

Since accuracy depends on complete information, each household selected to participate in this test must, by law, provide the information.

Statistical activity

The term 'Census Program' is used to refer in a general way to the Census of Population (record number 3901) and, if applicable, any accompanying survey conducted at the time of the census. The Census Program consists of two parts: a short questionnaire (census) with a basic set of questions distributed to 100% of households, or a long questionnaire (National Household Survey - record number 5178) distributed to a 33% sample of households.


  • Families, households and housing
  • Languages
  • Population and demography
  • Population estimates and projections

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 claim refugee status.

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.

The 2014 Census Test has the same target population with the following exceptions. It excludes persons who live in the territories; persons who live on Indian reserves and in other Indian settlements; persons living in institutional collective dwellings such as hospitals, nursing homes and penitentiaries; Canadian citizens living in other countries; and full-time members of the Canadian Forces stationed outside Canada. Also excluded are persons living in non-institutional collective dwellings such as work camps, hotels and motels, and student residences.

Instrument design

Prior to each Census of the Population, Statistics Canada undertakes a three to four-year process to review content by consulting with users of data, testing, and developing the questionnaire to ensure the content reflects changes in Canadian society. 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.

Leading up to the 2014 Census Test, Statistics Canada held content consultations on the census questionnaire, which included receiving submissions, meeting and having conference calls with various data users, such as federal government departments and agencies, provincial and territorial government departments, local governments, the general public, libraries, academia, special interest groups, the private sector and licensed distributors of census data. Consultations for the 2016 Census content began in September 2012.

Qualitative testing was conducted with the help of Statistics Canada's Questionnaire Design Resource Center (QDRC), who aided in testing iterations of the questionnaires that were based on the 2011 Census questions. The questionnaires were tested with QDRC in June 2013, September 2013, and January 2014.

The changes to content for the 2014 Census Test include;
- a new question about household email
- a new question about Social Insurance Number
- some changes to the wording of the Census questions
- some changes in terms of order of response categories
- some revised instructions
- some new electronic questionnaire functionalities.

Before each census, Statistics Canada quantitatively tests the questionnaire content, processing and collection systems. The 2014 Census Test will take place between May 2nd, 2014 to June 30th, 2014. For the test, panels using different questionnaires will be used to evaluate the impact of content changes on data quality. The content is defined as question wording and response categories, paper questionnaire format and usability, and the Electronic Questionnaire (EQ) applications, functionalities and usability.

The following self-administered questionnaires will be used (both paper questionnaire and electronic questionnaire):

- the 2A
- the 2A.s

The Census questions will also appear at the beginning of the 3 versions of the National Household Survey (NHS) questionnaires:

- the N1
- the N1.s
- the N1.1 (the control version of the Census with questions from the 2011 Census)

In accordance with the Statistics Act, the questions for the Census of Population 2014 Census test were prescribed by the Governor in Council through an Order in Council April 16, 2014.


This is a sample survey with a cross-sectional design.

A random sample consisting of 55,000 dwellings was selected for the 2014 Census Test. This sample was selected from the 2011 Census of Population dwelling list.

These 55,000 dwellings are split among 8 panels which will be compared to measure the impact of various proposed changes to the Census content. These panels will receive different questionnaire versions or will be contacted through different collection methodologies. The sample is stratified to ensure coverage of a variety of geographic areas and of multiple response modes (Internet, paper and non-response follow-up) while taking into account operational constraints.

Data sources

Data collection for this reference period: 2014-05-02 to 2014-06-30

Responding to this survey is mandatory.

Data are collected directly from survey respondents.

The Census of Population test reference date is May 13, 2014

Collection includes response by Internet, paper, the Census Help Line, and non-response follow-up. The 2014 Census test questions will also be collected by, and will appear before, the voluntary National Household Survey (NHS) questionnaire, record number 5178.

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