Census of Population

Detailed information for October 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.

In October 2014, Statistics Canada will be conducting a voluntary test in selected locations to evaluate the processes, procedures and systems that will be used for the 2016 Census Program. This ensures that quality data are available in 2016 to support a wide variety of programs.


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.

The objective of the October 2014 Census test is to test Field Procedures and to examine a number of changes proposed for administrative and field collection activities. This test is used to validate the behaviour of field staff when using the new procedures, systems and tools. The results will be used to recommend required changes to procedures, training and systems where necessary. The information collected may also be used by Statistics Canada for other statistical and research purposes.

For the test, there will be 3 Census questionnaires, (1A - for collective dwelling counts, the 2A - Census form, and the 3A - individual Census form), as well as 2 National Household Survey (NHS) questionnaires (2A-L Census and National Household Survey combined form, and the 2A-R Census and National Household Survey combined form for northern/arctic regions, First Nations and other Aboriginal communities) that will each contain a section with Census questions. A population count card (7B card) will also be used in cases where non-institutional collective dwellings are unable to provide a count of their usual residents. All questionnaires will be available in paper format. In addition, the 2A and 2A-L will also be made available electronically.

As part of the sample, approximately 30,000 dwellings are selected to participate in this Census Test. Statistics Canada counts on the cooperation of selected households to ensure the 2016 Census continues to provide reliable 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 October 2014 Census Test will have the same target population as the 2016 Census, however will excluded persons who live in the territories; Canadian citizens living in other countries; and full-time members of the Canadian Forces stationed outside Canada.

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, 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. A Census Test was also conducted in May 2014 with a focus on testing questionnaire content.

The changes to content for the October 2014 Census Test include;
- The collection of the civic address
- Some minor design changes
- Reference dates have been updated

Changes to the 1A form include:
- The addition of a bilingual message as an introductory message at the top of the questionnaire
- The addition of questions to help determine the collective type(s).

The following questionnaires will be used:

- the 1A form (Collective Dwelling Record - for both institutional and non-institutional collectives);
- the 7B card (Usual Resident Count supplement card - for non-institutional collectives);
- the 2A (Census form) and;
- the 3A (Individuals Census from for persons living in private households or collectives).

The Census questions will also appear at the beginning of the 2 versions of the National Household Survey (NHS) questionnaires:

- the 2A-L (Census and NHS - Combined form)
- the 2A-R (Census and NHS - Combined form for northern/arctic population, First Nations, and other Aboriginal communities )

All questionnaires will be made available in paper format. The 2A and 2A-L will also be available in electronic format.

In accordance with the Statistics Act, the questionnaires for the Census of Population 2014 Census test were prescribed by order of the Chief Statistician of Canada on July 7, 2014.


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

As part of the sample, approximately 30,000 dwellings are selected to participate in this Census Test including one aboriginal reserve. About one in three of these dwellings will receive the combined Census and NHS questionnaire.

Collection activities for the Census Test are limited to the following areas:

- Quebec
Montréal, Havelock, Lacolle, Napierville, Saint-Chrysostome, Saint-Constant, Saint-Cyprien-de-Napierville, Sainte-Clotilde, Sainte-Martine, Saint-Jacques-le-Mineur, Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu (L'Acadie sector only), Saint-Rémi, Saint-Urbain-Premier, Saint-Valentin, Très-Saint-Sacrement

- Ontario
Toronto, Peterborough

- Alberta
1 Reserve in the Edmonton area

Data sources

Data collection for this reference period: 2014-09-15 to 2014-11-14

Responding to this survey is voluntary.

Data are collected directly from survey respondents and extracted from administrative files.

The Census of Population test reference date is October 1, 2014.

Collection includes response by Internet, paper questionnaire returned by mail, the Census Help Line, and enumerators. Census questions will also be collected on the voluntary National Household Survey (NHS) questionnaire, record number 5178. The administrative data collected will include resident information such as name of the occupant, and if they are a usual resident of the collective dwelling. Once determined as part of the sample, the information provided by the collective dwelling representative will be used to complete a 2A Census form for each of the respondents within the sample.

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