Frequently asked questions—General information

What is a census test?

Statistics Canada conducts a census test to evaluate new and modified questions in the questionnaires and collection procedures and tools in preparation for the 2026 Census of Population and the 2026 Census of Agriculture.

Testing ensures that high-quality data are available in 2026 to support a wide variety of programs. From questionnaire design to data collection, we are conducting most of the activities that will be done for the 2026 Census.

Is the 2024 Census Test mandatory and why?

Census of Population

Participation in the 2024 Census Test is mandatory.

Since accuracy depends on complete information, each household selected to participate in this test must, by law, provide the information.

Answers are collected under the authority of the Statistics Act and are kept strictly confidential.

Census of Agriculture

The 2024 Census of Agriculture Test is conducted on a voluntary basis. It relies on your responses and those of other farmers across Canada to assess respondents' understanding of the questionnaire content.

The information provided will be carefully reviewed and will help Statistics Canada ensure that the 2026 Census of Agriculture questionnaire is easily understood by and beneficial to all data users.

Is there a legal requirement to conduct a census test?

Under the Statistics Act, the Chief Statistician has the authority to approve the collection of information on a mandatory basis. A mandatory Census of Population Test and a voluntary Census of Agriculture Test were approved.

How many households/farms are selected?

Census of Population

A sample of approximately 198,000 dwellings has been selected to participate in this census test.

Census of Agriculture

A sample of 10,000 farms from across Canada have been selected to participate in this census test.

Who should complete the census test questionnaire?

Census of Population

If your household has been selected, the questionnaire can be completed by any knowledgeable person, aged 15 or older, who lives at the selected address.

Census of Agriculture

Any selected person responsible for operating a farm or an agricultural operation should complete a 2024 Census of Agriculture Test questionnaire.

What kinds of questions are asked on the 2024 Census Test questionnaire?

Census of Population

The census test questionnaires have questions on demographics such as age, sex at birth and gender, household composition, languages, military experience, and language of instruction.

There are additional questions on topics including, but not limited to, activities of daily living, immigration, ethnic or cultural origins, racialized groups, Indigenous peoples, mobility, education, labour, commuting, expenditures, and housing.

Please note that multiple versions of the 2024 Census Test questionnaire are being tested, and not all dwellings will be asked all questions.

Census of Agriculture

The 2024 Census Test will help finalize content for the 2026 Census of Agriculture by collecting a wide range of data from different sizes and types of farms.

The census test will collect data on topics such as farm area, land management practices, livestock inventories and crop area, total operating expenses and receipts, farm capital and farm vehicles, and machinery and equipment.

How will new or modified questions asked in the 2024 Census Test benefit Canadians?

The 2024 Census Test questionnaire includes new and modified content to address emerging trends and issues.

The test helps us determine whether the new proposed questions and the modified questions are clear and provide more value. We do this because the data that will be collected through the 2026 Census will help decision makers across the country to plan for services and programs that matter most to you, in areas such as

  • employment
  • education
  • public transportation
  • health care.
When will the results of the 2024 Census Test be available?

Census test data are not collected for publication; they are collected to prepare for the 2026 Census. As such, they are not released in any form, including as historical records 92 years after the census test.

Why does Statistics Canada use administrative data as part of the 2024 Census Test?

Statistics Canada has a long tradition of using data from administrative sources to fulfill its mission and to meet its mandate.

Using administrative data reduces response burden on households and saves time and money in data collection. It also helps to improve data quality and ensures that the census remains accurate, relevant and efficient.

In some cases, using administrative sources may be the only feasible way to collect important statistical information that helps Canadians make timely, evidence-based decisions.

What administrative data sources will be used for the 2024 Census Test?

Statistics Canada uses information from Canada Revenue Agency tax and benefits files to collect data on employment income, income from government transfers, and the amount of income tax paid.

Information on immigrant admission category (e.g., economic immigrant, refugee, immigrant sponsored by family) and applicant type is drawn from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada records. Statistics Canada also uses administrative data to replace census test questions on immigrant status and year of immigration.

How are the administrative data used?

Administrative data are used to supplement or replace information collected by the census test, as an alternative to asking additional questions. Some administrative data sources are also used to validate data collected by the census test or to complete analytical projects.

Are there other ways administrative data are being used during the census test?

Some households selected for the 2024 Census Test will be given the option of completing the short-form questionnaire, or allowing Statistics Canada to enumerate their household using information they already provided to other government sources.

If administrative data are used to enumerate the household, only information on the number of usual residents, age, and sex at birth or gender will be collected.

Do the departments and agencies that provide the administrative data have access to individual census test data?

No one outside Statistics Canada has access to any individual information obtained through the census test. The work associated with linking census test data to administrative data is conducted entirely within Statistics Canada, which retains control of all information collected. No information that could be used to identify respondents will ever be provided to other departments or agencies.

Under the Statistics Act, all personal information collected from respondents or drawn from administrative files must be kept confidential. Strict security measures safeguard the collection, processing, and storage of all data.