From data to daily life

May 18, 2016

This month, census letters and packages are arriving at households across Canada. In the North, collection activities began in February. In April, census representatives began visiting households in First Nations communities.

Whether you receive the long- or short-form census questionnaire, you might wonder why Statistics Canada is asking for this information. What is it used for?

Census data at work

While you may know that completing the census questionnaire is a civic responsibility, you may not be aware of all the benefits that your census information can provide in return.

Census data is used by governments, businesses, associations, community organizations and many others to help improve your daily life and to ensure that you have access to the programs, support and services you need.

What's in it for you?

Do you look after young children or aging parents? Census population questions provide data on the changing demographics of communities across Canada. This information is used to plan for services, such as daycare centres, schools and residences for seniors. It is also used to administer many social programs, including the Canada Child Benefit and Old Age Security.

Do you drive or take public transit to get to work? Census questions about your daily commute generate data that can be used to plan roads and transit services. Census information can also help identify suitable locations for new hospitals and recreational facilities.

Are you living with a disability or caring for someone who is? The information you provide about your daily activities, family and household size produces the data that community-care agencies can use to determine the need for the support and services they provide. Access to these programs can help you and those you care for to live independently and participate in your community.

Do you operate a business in Canada? Large or small, your business can benefit from using census data. The census program produces a vast quantity of statistics that can help you to make informed decisions about market development and expansion opportunities. The data can also help you to better understand your target audience and tailor your marketing activities with greater precision.

Are you an entrepreneur? There are census statistics that can support your business case and help identify the size of potential customer bases in different cities.

The census questionnaire

Curious to know how Statistics Canada decides what questions to ask? Prior to each census, Statistics Canada holds consultation sessions with data users and interested parties from across Canada. Representatives from different levels of government, community groups, non-profit organizations, advisory groups, private industry, as well as academics and Canadian citizens, provide valuable input about the type of information that should be available from the census.

Statistics Canada uses this feedback, together with information on emerging social and economic issues, to craft the questions that will produce data that Canadians need. Then the questions are tested in the field to confirm that they are well understood by respondents and that nothing has been missed.

All these steps are required as the census must continue to evolve to reflect the diversity of our country and to provide an accurate portrait of our people.

Completing the census

You lead a busy life, but don't worry—completing the census questionnaire is fast and easy. It can be done online or on paper.

Your answers should reflect your life on May 10, 2016, unless otherwise specified. This ensures that the information collected provides an accurate snapshot of Canada's society at an exact point in time.

Do you speak English or French as a second language? For reference purposes, the 2016 Census questionnaire is available in 22 languages, including 11 Aboriginal languages. But remember, your census questionnaire must be completed in English or French.

Do you have a question or need help filling out the questionnaire? Call the Census Help Line at 1-855-700-2016. The line is available Monday to Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

If you use TTY (a telecommunications device for the hearing impaired), call 1-866-753-7083.

The confidentiality commitment

The information you provide to Statistics Canada will be kept strictly confidential. Under the authority of the Statistics Act, your personal information cannot be given to anyone outside Statistics Canada without your consent. This is your right.

Getting the data

Statistics Canada will begin releasing the 2016 Census information within months of Census Day. All data will be available within 18 months—10 months earlier than in 2011.

Standard census data is accessible online for free. For specialized information requests, Statistics Canada offers custom data services to meet your specific needs and those of your community.

Be counted

So what are you waiting for? Complete your 2016 Census questionnaire today. Like millions of Canadians, you can do it online—it's fast and secure. If you have already completed it—thank you.

Your census. Your neighbourhood. Your future.

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