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It is census day in Canada – the deadline for households to complete and submit their census questionnaire. When the rollout started in early May, it sparked a wave of excitement. Here are some census-related questions whose answers may surprise you


Dataheads rejoice: Canada's census rollout is underway, a giant effort conducted every five years to collect information on where we live, what we speak, whether we marry and where we work. And for the first time in a decade, the mandatory long-form census is back. Some couldn't contain their excitement, proudly tweeting photos of their #Census2016 notices.

Whether you've already filled yours out or not, get in on the excitement and test your knowledge of all things census. You may be surprised.

1 Is filling out the census mandatory?
a. Yes
b. No

Answer: A: Yup! One in four Canadian households will be asked to complete the long-form questionnaire, while three in four households will have to fill out the short version, either online or in paper. Both are mandatory. Under the Statistics Act, failing to respond or giving false answers could result in a $500 fine, or up to three months in jail, or both – though so far, no one has served jail time.

2 Information from the census is used to:
a. Determine how much money is allocated to schools
b. Plan transit routes for cities
c. Figure out where to open retail locations
d. All of the above.

Answer: D: All of the above, and more! Those in both the public and private sector – from urban planners to academics, community groups, marketers, public health units and city economists – use census for planning, budgeting and research purposes.

3 Does the 2016 census ask about religion?
a. Yes
b. No

Answer: B. Nope! This year's census will not ask about religion, a question that is included every 10 years (as has been the case since 1871) and was asked in 2011 (which prompted, by the way, about 9,000 people to list their religion as Jedi).

4 How soon will Statscan share all census data with the public?
a. 1 year
b. 18 months
c. 2 years
d. whenever it's ready

Answer: B! 18 months. The first data – on population and dwelling counts – will be published within a year, slated for February, 2017. The agency says that for the first time, all census data will be released within 18 months of collection, a speedier turnaround time than in prior years.

5 What was the response rate of the 2011 voluntary national household survey?
a. 99%
b. 74%
c. 69%
d. 45%

Answer: C. The voluntary survey garnered a response rate of 69 per cent, which led to data-quality concerns and the suppression of community-level data in some parts of the country.

6 How many people is Statistics Canada hiring for all this?
a. more than 10,000
b. more than 20,000
c. more than 30,000
d. none. This year, the agency is relying on volunteers to conduct the census.

Answer: C! Yup – 2016 census-related hiring is likely to bump up this spring's employment numbers. Statscan is hiring 35,000 for census jobs across Canada, and another 1,400 for its data operations centre.

7 How many households in total will get the census?
a. 3 million
b. 10 million
c. 14 million
d. 36 million

Answer: C! 14 million households are expected to be reached across all territories and provinces.

8 The census data collection process is the same right across the country.
a. Yes
b. No

Answer: No! The process differs for some remote and northern communities, where early enumeration is conducted by personal interview. Census reps visited households in remote areas of the territories as well as communities in northern Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Quebec and Labrador. The census questions were translated into 11 aboriginal languages, including Dené and Inuktitut.


9 What year was the first census in Canada initiated?
a. 1666
b. 1765
c. 1867
d. 1871

Answer: A. The very first census effort was led by Intendant Jean Talon in 1666. This consisted of counting the colony's 3,215 inhabitants and recording their age, sex, marital status and occupation. "In light of the need for information to help plan and develop the Colony of New France, Talon did much of the data collection personally, visiting settlers throughout the colony," Statscan's website notes.

How did you do? Share this quiz to challenge your friends, and don't forget to fill out your census.

Answer all of the questions to see your result
Either you're a first-class census nerd, or you work for Statscan. Either way, bravo.
Well done! You put the 'can' in Statscan.
That was terrible. You're more of a Stats-can't.


From the archives: Why the voluntary census was inaccurate ‘nonsense’


Munir Sheikh: There’s too much at stake – make Statistics Canada independent Canada's former chief statistician, who quit amid disagreements with the Harper government, hopes the Liberals keep their promise to give Statscan the freedom it needs.
In Northern Canada, the census can be a matter of life and death Information gatherers are racing against time, weather and geography to collect crucial data for the first long-form survey in a decade, writes Luke DeCoste, a Munk Fellow in Global Journalism based in Whitehorse.