Do I have to fill out the 2016 census?

You are legally required to fill out the census if your household has been selected by Statistics Canada.
You are legally required to fill out the census if your household has been selected by Statistics Canada. (Image: iStock)

Rejoice one and all: the Canadian census is back!

Canadians are so enthusiastic about receiving the 2016 census that they brought down the Statistics Canada website earlier this month.

The Canadian government decided to resurrect the long-form census (former Prime Minister Stephen Harper had cancelled it in 2010) and Statistics Canada has begun mailing out access codes to it and the short-form census. Three out of four households will receive the short version and one in four households will receive the long-form census.

The access codes are being provided so people can complete the census online. However, individuals can also request to have a paper version mailed to them.

The official census day was May 10, which means you will be asked about your information, such as residence and marital status, applicable to you on that day.

What is the census?

The census is a survey that is conducted every five years in Canada and allows Statistics Canada to collect data about randomly selected Canadians that gives them an idea of what makes up the Canadian population. Census topics include:

  • Income and housing;
  • Age and sex;
  • Families, households and marital status; and
  • Language.

If I am selected, do I have to fill out the census?

You are legally required to fill out the census if your household has been selected by Statistics Canada.

Participation in the census is mandatory according to the Statistics Act.

If you refuse to provide the required census information, you could face a fine of $500 and even up to three months imprisonment.

If you are wondering if anyone would really refuse to provide this information, a 79-year old woman did refuse and was charged with failing to fill out the 2011 census.

Her refusal was based on the data collection process being handled by the company Lockheed Martin, which is also produces military arms and equipment.

The woman was found guilty of contravening the Statistics Act in 2014 and sentenced to 50 hours of community service.

Given the enthusiasm expressed by many Canadians this time around, it’s unlikely participation will become an issue.

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