Frequently asked questions on Vital Statistics

Q: What are Civil Registrations?

Civil registrations are the registrations of vital events namely live births, stillbirths, deaths, marriages and divorces. These registrations are the responsibility of the provinces and territories however divorces are the responsibility of the federal government.

Q: What are Vital Statistics?

Vital statistics in Canada are obtained from the official records of live births, stillbirths, deaths, marriages, and divorces. The official recording of births, stillbirths, deaths and marriages is the responsibility of the individual provinces and territories. The Department of Justice Canada is responsible for registering divorce data. Statistics Canada, in collaboration with the provincial and territorial vital statistics registrars, has been compiling, analyzing and publishing national information on births and deaths since 1921.

Q: What are Vital Statistics used for?

There are many uses for Vital Statistics. These include producing population estimates and projections, monitoring demographic and health trends, contributing to methodological studies, supporting government policy and research studies and assisting health professionals in disease surveillance and epidemiological studies. Vital statistics are the basis for important health and demographic indicators, such as life expectancy, infant mortality, causes of death, fertility and mortality rates.

Q: What are birth statistics used for?

Birth statistics can be used to monitor trends in family size in order to predict the future number of births for planning purposes, to monitor the number of babies born with low birth weight or gestation period and to target prevention programs to mothers who are at a high risk of having a baby with low birth weight.

Q: What are death statistics used for?

Death statistics can be used to monitor trends in public health issues such as infant and maternal mortality, infectious diseases, unintentional injuries and suicide. They can also be used to support health research and health care priorities, to plan health facilities, services and resources, to plan prevention and screening programs and assess the results of these programs, to develop health promotion programs and evaluate their results and to provide a basis for research in disease etiology and diagnosis techniques to improve patient care.

Q: How does Statistics Canada protect the confidentiality of my personal information?

Due to confidentially policies, Statistics Canada does not release lists of brands, companies or individuals. Our data is published in aggregate form only. All personal information created, held or collected by Statistics Canada is protected by the Privacy Act and by the Statistics Act in the case of respondents to our surveys. 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.

Q: How can I obtain information regarding my own records?

Each province and territory has an office of vital records that manages birth, stillbirth, death and marriage documents. You will have to contact the specific province or territory in which you live or were born to obtain your records.

For divorce records, you can contact the Department of Justice Canada.

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