Census basics and safety tips

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So you received mail from Statistics Canada asking you to fill out a questionnaire. And you’re wondering: I’m not a citizen yet, am I really included in the census? Maybe it will be safer for me and my family if I don’t give out my personal information.

If you’ve had these thoughts, consider the following facts:

Completing the census is mandatory

All Canadian citizens, landed immigrants, refugee claimants, and holders of work or study permits are required to answer the questionnaire. Households who do not file these forms may be subject to penalties based on the Statistics Act.

Statistics Canada protects your information

Once completed, all census information is kept confidential by Statistics Canada. In accordance with the Statistics Act, your information is protected. No one outside of Statistics Canada can have access to information that identifies individuals.

Other safety tips to keep you and your information safe:

  • Keep your 16-digit secure access code secure – When you receive a census letter, you will see this code at the top of the page. If you received a paper census questionnaire, the secure access code is at the top right corner of the first page. This access code allows you to complete the questionnaire online. Protect your access code and don’t divulge it to anyone to keep your information secure.
  • Talking to an enumerator – On May 31, enumerators from Statistics Canada will come and visit households to check if they have completed their questionnaires. To confirm the identity of the enumerator at your door, you should:
    1. Check for an identification card – you may check for an official ID. It features the Statistics Canada image, the name of the enumerator, employment number, and photo.
    2. Let them into your home only if you feel comfortable – you are not required to let them into your house. If you have concerns about the person, you can verify an enumerator’s identity by calling the Census Help Line (CHL) at 1-855-700-2016 (Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., and 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on weekends).
    3. Be prepared for a possible follow-up call – An enumerator may call you if necessary. They will identify themselves clearly on the phone.

Your participation helps the community

By providing accurate information through the census, you provide the government with a clear picture of your situation and possible needs. The statistics formed based on the information gathered in the census are used by local, provincial and federal governments, businesses and various social service and ethno-cultural organizations. They use statistics for planning and improving services such as health care, language classes, educational programming in schools, family services, housing, and skills training for employment. So when you complete the census questionnaire, you are helping build and strengthen communities.

If you have questions about the census or need help in filling out the forms, you can find answers from the Frequently Asked Questions page of the Statistics Canada site.

For other inquiries or census-related requests call the Census Help Line (CHL) at 1-855-700-2016. You can call Monday to Friday between 8:00 a.m. and 8 p.m., or on Saturday and Sunday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The CHL offers services in many languages.

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Community Resources

Also read The Census: What it is and why you need to be counted.

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