Backgrounder for the 2021 Census

Ottawa, April 6, 2021

Every five years, the Census of Population paints a portrait of Canada's changing mosaic. Now more than ever, trusted and reliable data, insights and analysis on socio-economic trends are important decision-making tools that governments, businesses, organizations and individuals rely on to understand where we came from, where we are, and where we are heading.

Like data from past censuses, information from the 2021 Census will be key to understand our communities and our country. This data will also be critical in the context of COVID-19. Information from the 2021 Census will provide important facts to help policy- and decision-makers assist communities, provinces, territories, and the country to recover from the pandemic.

In 2016, Canadians set a record overall response rate of 98.4% for the Census of Population. When collection for the next census begins in May 2021, Statistics Canada challenges Canadians to achieve nearly 100% participation once again.

Statistics Canada is striving for a contact-free approach, as every reasonable attempt will be made to collect the information without coming into contact with respondents. The safest way to respond to the census will be to do so online, or by completing it on paper or over the phone. In-person visits will take place only when other options (e.g., online, by phone) are not available.

The census questions have been translated into 25 other languages, including 13 Indigenous languages. Census collection staff are also available to assist in responding to questions.

Statistics Canada has a duty and a legal obligation to protect the rightful privacy of Canadians. Safeguarding Canadians' information and privacy guides our decisions and drives our work. We have rigorous processes in place to ensure personal information is kept private and confidential, and all information we collect is strictly protected. As part of our ongoing commitment to transparency, Statistics Canada publishes information in the Trust Centre section of our website on how we protect Canadians' privacy, as we provide them with the data they have come to rely on.

Statistics Canada has adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic. We have taken pro-active steps to ensure that the 2021 Census is conducted throughout the country in the best possible way. Procedures for the census have been redesigned to keep respondents and census employees are safe by limiting the amount of contact needed to participate in this important exercise.

Census enumerators, while working from home, will seek to contact respondents by phone to encourage them to complete the census online, on paper or by phone. In rare situations where in-person follow up is needed, the enumerator will wear masks, use hand sanitizer, observe physical distancing and abide by health authority guidelines. Statistics Canada is aware that COVID-19 may have an impact on the way Canadians answer some of the census questions, and has been developing helpful guidelines to assist them in responding to these specific questions.

Recruitment for the 2021 Census is going well. Statistics Canada is still hiring locally in all communities across Canada to ensure we have a robust workforce. Those interested in taking part in this vital national exercise can apply on the 2021 Census website.

Canadians are invited to find out more information on the census by visiting our 2021 Census website which provide a full suite of information. Visitors will have the opportunity to review Painting a Portrait of Canada: The 2021 Census of Population. This comprehensive document outlines Statistics Canada's planned approach to the 2021 Census of Population, including historical, legal, operational and content aspects.

As well, as of May 3, 2021, Canadians can call a Census Help Line 1-855-340-2021 for assistance in completing the census.

Decisions on the 2021 Census have been made in collaboration with Canadians and for Canadians. The 2021 Census content was published in the Canada Gazette on July 18, 2020. The 2021 Census of Population questionnaire will have returning content from 2016 and previous censuses to allow for ongoing trend analysis, and it will include new questions to continue to measure Canada's growing diversity.

The following five fact sheets—and their enclosed topics—explain the new and updated content of the 2021 Census of Population questionnaire:

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