How are census data used?

Governments, Indigenous communities and organizations, community and farm organizations, businesses, as well as many others use census data.

Below are some examples of how census information is used to make informed decisions that directly benefit you, your community and the country as a whole.


Federal government

  • Voting: The federal government uses population counts from certain census years to realign the boundaries of federal electoral districts and to ensure equal representation of the population in the House of Commons.
  • Old Age Security and Canada Child Benefit: Government departments use demographic and household composition data from the census to plan social programs such as Old Age Security and the Canada Child Benefit.
  • Planning for natural and other hazards: Federal research teams use census information to model risks from hazard events such as flooding, earthquakes, coastal hazards or man-made disasters. Understanding where populations are present helps model where people may be exposed to hazards.

Provincial and territorial governments

  • Daycare, schools and retirement residences: Provincial and territorial governments use census data on age and population numbers to understand how an area is changing and to estimate program needs, including the need for new daycare centres, schools and retirement residences.
  • Health services: By mapping census data, provincial and territorial governments can better provide community health services according to neighbourhood needs.
  • Roads and public transport: Transportation planners for provincial, territorial, regional and municipal governments use census information to analyze traffic flows, assess existing transportation services, and plan for changes to these services and to road networks.

Municipal governments

  • Schools and emergency services: Municipalities use demographic and household composition data from the census to plan a variety of services, such as daycare centres, schools, police and fire protection services.
  • Seniors services: Municipal governments use census data on seniors to plan the need for affordable seniors housing or portable housing benefits. Census data on seniors are also used to determine where paramedic services call volumes may increase in the future and if the appropriate resources are allocated properly.
  • Translation needs: Municipal and provincial governments use census data on language to determine the need to translate documentation and signage.

Indigenous communities and organizations

  • Community support: Indigenous communities use census data to evaluate existing health and social services and to determine the best ways they can support their community, whether it is through educational skills programs, employment and training services, health services, housing supports, or early childhood services.
  • Economic development: First Nations use census information to assist with economic development to provide data for grants, programs, and services.
  • Programs for the community: Organizations who provide services to First Nations people, Métis and Inuit use Indigenous identity and basic demographic data to plan and develop programs that respond to the needs of the population.
  • Indigenous languages: Indigenous leadership uses census information on Indigenous languages to assess the need for services in traditional languages and to create programs that support the learning and growth of these languages in their communities.

Community organizations

  • Employment: Managers of programs use census data to help the visible minority population and people with disabilities join the workforce and get better jobs. They also rely on the census for information about the job market.
  • Services for people with disabilities: Census data are used to determine who should be included in the Canadian Survey on Disability, which collects information on the type and severity of disability, use of aids and assistive devices, help received or required, use of various therapies and social service supports, educational attainment, labour force participation details, requirements and unmet needs for accommodations at school or work, and the experience of being housebound. This information helps organizations and governments to evaluate and implement programs and services tailored to people with disabilities, and to eliminate the barriers that they may face.

Farm organizations

  • Financial decisions: Farm organizations draw on census information to make production, marketing and investment decisions.
  • Trends: Census data is used to identify trends and changes in farming practices, and provide factual information on emerging economic and social issues, as well as opportunities and challenges within the agricultural community.
  • Impact of weather: Farm organizations use census data to evaluate the impact of natural disasters on agriculture (such as floods, drought and storms) and react appropriately.


  • Property decisions: Businesses determine new factory, store and office locations based largely on the size and distribution of the population in different areas, which are determined through census data.
  • Market decisions: Business owners use census information on geography and median income to determine how much potential customers in an area can spend on a good or service.
  • Life insurance: Life insurance companies base their premium tables on census age data.
  • Product development: Manufacturers of household and farm equipment use census data in determining the best market locations for their products. They can also assess the benefits of developing specific products by knowing the characteristics of the population in particular areas.


  • Finding a new home: Families look at census data when they are choosing a new neighbourhood to make sure the surroundings are suited to their lifestyles.
  • Salary negotiations: Workers use census data on occupations to identify average salaries by profession, which can help them make their case for a higher salary.
  • Education choices: By looking at census data on occupations, students can determine which professions are most in-demand, which can help them make informed decisions on which education program to choose.
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