Archived – Program activity 3: Census, demography and Aboriginal statistics

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Program activity description Footnote 1

The program's purpose is to provide statistical information, analyses and services that measure changes in the Canadian population, its demographic characteristics and its conditions, and its agricultural sector, as well as the well-being of Aboriginal peoples, in order to serve as a basis for public and private decision making, research and analysis in areas of concern to the people of Canada. The program includes the Censuses of Population and Agriculture. The Census of Population provides detailed information on population sub-groups and for small geographical levels required to assess the effects of specifically targeted policy initiatives and serves as a foundation for other statistical surveys. It also provides population estimates, projections and in-depth information on special populations, such as operators of agriculture holdings and Aboriginal peoples. Population counts and estimates are used in determining electoral boundaries, distribution of federal transfer payments, and the transfer and allocation of funds among regional and municipal governments, school boards and other locally based agencies within provinces. It meets statistical requirements specified constitutionally, and supports those in statutory requirements and regulatory instruments. All per capita measures in fiscal policies and arrangements and other economic analysis, and in program and service planning, come from this program's statistical information. Statistics produced range from demographic, social and economic conditions of the population, annual and quarterly estimates of the population, households and families and their projections to number and types of farms and farm operators, and the socio-economic conditions and well-being of Aboriginal peoples.

Table 1 2011-–2012 Financial resources ($ thousands)
Planned spending Total authorities Footnote 1 Actual spending Footnote 1
334,905 350,936 340,205
Table 2 2011-–2012 Human resources (full-time equivalents [FTEs])
Planned Actual Difference
1,722 1,965 -243
Table 3 Performance indicators for census, demography and Aboriginal statistics
Expected results Performance indicators Footnote 1 Targets Actual results
Statistics produced by Statistics Canada are available through a wide range of easily accessible media formats and venues. Page views of electronic publications—number and annual percentage change Annual increase exceeds 5% Page views in 2011-–2012 were up 17% from 2010-–2011.
There was a strong increase in downloads to new articles in the "Report on the Demographic Situation in Canada."

Page views ('000), fiscal years 2007–-2008 to 2011-–2012:
  • 2007-–2008: 511
  • 2008-–2009: 630
  • 2009-–2010: 666
  • 2010-–2011: 931
  • 2011-–2012: 1,087
Percentage changes, fiscal years 2007-–2008 to 2011-–2012:
  • 2007–-2008: 49
  • 2008–-2009: 23
  • 2009-–2010: 6
  • 2010–-2011: 40
  • 2011-–2012: 17
Success in finding information on the Statistics Canada website 65% of visitors surveyed found what they were looking for 70% of visitors surveyed found what they were looking for.
  • 2010-–2011: 69%
  • 2011–-2012: 70%
Ease of finding information on the Statistics Canada website 70% of visitors surveyed would say they were satisfied 69% of visitors surveyed indicated it was somewhat or very easy to find the information sought.
  • 2010–-2011: 67%
  • 2011-–2012: 69%
Satisfaction with website New indicator 65% of visitors surveyed who were seeking Census, Demography and Aboriginal Statistics information were satisfied or very satisfied with the website
Canadians are aware of the availability of these statistics and of their high quality, and of the professionalism and non-partisanship of Statistics Canada. Data series downloaded from the CANSIM online database—number and annual percentage change Annual increase exceeds 5% Indicators are not available as Statistics Canada is in a transition year moving to free CANSIM.
Net undercoverage for the 2011 Census of Population Less than 3% No indicator data are currently available. Data will be available for DPR 2012-2013.
Response rate for the 2011 Census of Population 98% or more Collection response rate for the 2011 Census of Population was 98.1%.
Response rate for the National Household Survey At least 50% Collection response rate for the National Household Survey was 69.3%.
Organizational efficiency Cost per dwelling for 2011 Census of Population Less than $42 The target was in 2009/2010 constant dollars. In actual dollars, this target was $43.02 per dwelling. The projected final actual cost (based on measured and forecasted expenditures is $44.78 per dwelling. The variance can be explained by a reduced number of actual dwellings versus the projected number previously used (-83,000), and an increase in costs of $22M over project costs. The increase in costs is related to additional contingency funding received by Statistics Canada to account for changes in methodology (move to the voluntary National Household Survey) and to additional efforts made to reach response rate objectives.

Performance summary and analysis of program activity

The Census, Demography and Aboriginal Statistics program performed at a very high level in 2011-–2012. Data collection for the Census of Population, the Census of Agriculture, and the National Household Survey took place from May to August 2011. Collection response rates were 98.1% for the Census of Population, 95.9% for the Census of Agriculture and 69.3% for the National Household Survey. These response rates were above expectations, despite the challenges of dealing with natural disasters such as floods and forest fires in many parts of the country and labour disruptions at Canada Post in June 2011. The first data release for the Census of Population took place on February 8, 2012 and received extensive coverage. The release focused on population and private dwellings counts. Other Census of Population releases will take place in May, September and October 2012. Data certification and processing activities for the National Household Survey are also progressing as planned: releases are scheduled from May to August 2013. The main release of the 2011 Census of Agriculture will take place on May 10, 2012. More Census of Agriculture products are to be released beginning in September 2012.

Lessons learned

What worked well

New collection approaches were introduced, which generated high response for the Census of Population. The Internet response rate was 54.1%, placing Canada in the forefront of Internet census collection internationally. The self-response rate (completing the questionnaire with no interviewer assistance) reached 85.8%, the highest ever for the Census of Population. The same collection approach was used for the National Household Survey, helping to achieve a national collection response rate of 69.3%— comparable to rates for other voluntary household surveys conducted by Statistics Canada. Introducing a new collection step to verify dwelling occupancy status close to census day also improved classification of private dwellings correctly as occupied or vacant.

For the Census of Agriculture, 10.8% of farm operations completed their questionnaires online; more than double the rate for the 2006 Census of Agriculture. The Census of Agriculture incorporated a full mail-out with centralized telephone follow-up for the first time in 2011, improving the cost effectiveness of collection.

What could be improved and what we are doing about it

The 2016 Census Strategy Project, which began in December 2010, continues Statistics Canada's regular process of reviewing and evaluating its statistical programs. The project reviewed the approaches for population censuses that are used around the world, and evaluated their applicability to the Canadian context. Simultaneously, Statistics Canada conducted a thorough review of the Census of Agriculture. The objective of these reviews was to study options and deliver a recommendation to the federal government on the methodology of the 2016 census programs.

As is customary after every census, Statistics Canada also evaluated every operational aspect of the censuses and the National Household Survey. Combined with the reviews mentioned above, the results from the operational evaluations will be used to plan the 2016 census programs. Key drivers for the 2016 cycle will be improving efficiency, increasing the use of administrative date to improve quality and to reduce respondent burden, and speeding up data dissemination. Submissions will be made to Treasury Board in the fall of 2012 for interim 2016 program funding.


Footnote 1

A more detailed description of this program activity and planned release dates are available at Statistics Canada's program activity architecture and Release dates for major economic indicators.

Return to footnote 1 referrer