What should I know about the Canadian Census?

The Canadian Census of Population is mandatory; every household must complete it.

For the census, “household” is defined as two or more persons living in the same home, which may or may not be related. This means you must include anyone living at the same address. For example, roommates sharing an apartment and owner and tenant living in the same house would fill out only one census.

The next census will be in May 2026.

What is the census for?

The Government of Canada conducts a Census of Population every five years.

The census is how the government enumerates, or counts, the population and gathers information that helps different levels of government make plans and decisions. Census data, combined with information from income tax returns and immigration data, can help researchers and policymakers answer questions for different topics based on expected population sizes, such as:

  • How many schools are needed in your area?
  • What level of staffing for Emergency Services?
  • Do we have enough hospitals?
  • Will they need to make changes to public transit or build new roads?
  • Is there enough affordable housing in low-income areas?

Fun Facts: According to the 2021 census, Canada had a population of 36,991,981 people, and 23% of those people were immigrants. That’s a total of 8,361,505 people who were born outside of Canada.

Are there different types of census forms?

In Canada, two types of forms are sent out for the population census. Most people, about 75%, will receive the short form of the census; the rest will get a long form.

Short Form

The short-form version asks basic questions about age, sex and gender, languages spoken at home, and how people in the household are related. There are usually about ten questions.

Long Form

The long-form version usually has about 60 questions, and it is about your family’s ethnic background, education levels, housing, employment status, mobility, transportation and childcare needs.

Census of Agriculture

The Census of Agriculture collects detailed information about Canada's agriculture industry's physical, economic, social and environmental characteristics. This census happens at the same time as the population census every five years.

Do I really have to fill it out?

Yes, the census is mandatory for everyone living in Canada. Every household must complete the census when they receive it. The current options are:

  • online
  • by mail
  • in person
  • by phone

If you do not complete the census by the deadline, staff from Statistics Canada will contact you to offer assistance.

Your personal information is protected by law.

For More Information

  • What is the census? - This video from Statistics Canada explains what the Census is.
  • Census of Agriculture - This census collects information about Canada's agriculture industry's physical, economic, social and environmental aspects.
  • Data Story: Understanding Census Data - This series of data stories is meant to help people understand and use Peel Region's data through their website and portal.
Last updated: March 8, 2024 4006608