Canada’s 2026 Census

On 17 April Statistics Canada released 2026 Census of Population Content Consultation Results: What we heard from Canadians. The report makes clear up front Stats Can’s view of the census.

Data from the Census of Population are important for all communities and are vital for planning services that support employment, education and health care. Governments, businesses, associations, organizations and many others use these data to make important decisions.

Genealogy interests are mentioned twice. The most significant is —

The write-in field was analyzed to better understand the other reported purposes respondents had for using census data. Responses most frequently related to uses for genealogy (38%) or general interest, general information, learning, teaching or training (10%), among other general trends. Note that more than 30% of the responses were deemed to fall within the existing purposes and were recoded as such.

Statistics Canada evaluates importance according to a content determination framework. Statutory and regulatory uses tied to a law and information needs that serve a purpose that is national in scope are given the highest priority. Demographic and language questions were the most highly rated in the consultation.

Although research was the most frequently reported purpose of use overall, uses such as academic and policy research are assigned a lower priority by the content determination framework. As with the previous data use purposes, all census topics were reportedly used for research purposes fairly consistently. However, questions related to demography (9%) were reportedly the most used for research, followed by place of birth (8%), and immigration and citizenship (8%).

There is a history with the census in balancing privacy concerns with data quality. StatsCan worries, with little evidence, about the potential of compromising data quality if respondants feel their privacy is being compromised.

 As genealogists we look for detailed information (e.g., full birthdates, maiden names) that would enhance our research. We look for data spanning multiple decades to understand migration patterns, societal changes, and family dynamics over time. Maintaining relevance of the census questions for genealogy is, and has always been, an uphill battle.

2 Replies to “Canada’s 2026 Census”

  1. John, detailed census information spanning more than two centuries was vital to my family history research and writing. Combined with vital statistics databases, social history resources, local histories, and other sources, access to census data for Canada (Nova Scotia and New Brunswick) and the United States (New England) allowed me to write the first family history of my Grant line in southwestern Nova Scotia. My book, The Descendants of John Grant and Mary Sabean, would have been much slimmer and less relevant without the aid of census returns.
    Thank you for your posts. Along with Gail Dever’s posts, you add value to my daily research and learning routine.

  2. I hope that they will correct some of the major errors in the 2021 census. We live in a large seniors complex.(167 life lease apartments and bungalows- independent living)129 rented apartments both independent and assisted living and 40 Lon term care. When we did not receive our census forms, I investigated and found that we were all treated like long term care. A clerk filled out the forms from office records! Did she know: birthplaces, racial origin, marital status and much more? I contacted the chief statistician, and while he realized the problem, decided not to redo them. So there are 400+ people with insufficient information!

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