Frequently asked questions—Security and privacy

How do I know my information will be protected?

Statistics Canada is bound by the Statistics Act to protect respondents' information. The agency places the highest priority on maintaining the confidentiality of completed questionnaires.

  • All Statistics Canada employees take a lifetime oath of secrecy. Any employee breach of confidentiality would have severe penalties.
  • All confidential data are stored and processed on a highly restricted internal network.
  • Only Statistics Canada employees with a need to know have access to personal and confidential information. These employees must go through a justification and approval process. They can collect, process, and analyze completed questionnaires, but may only access the data they are working on.
  • Private contractors never have access to confidential data.
  • Census test data submitted to Statistics Canada's web servers remain encrypted until they are processed and stored on a restricted, high-security internal network. This network cannot be accessed by anyone who has not taken Statistics Canada's oath of secrecy.
  • Access to Statistics Canada buildings is controlled by a combination of physical measures and access procedures.

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.

Can I use an alias instead of a real name?

For data quality purposes, you should use your name and not an alias when completing your census test questionnaire.

How do I know the person calling or visiting me is really from Statistics Canada?

Every census employee will have an identification card that features the Statistics Canada identifier, along with their name, employment number and photo.

If a follow-up phone call to a household is needed, the census employee will identify themselves clearly.

If you would like to verify a census employee's identity, starting May 6, 2024, you can call the Census Help Line at 1-833-835-2024.

Do I have to let census employees from Statistics Canada into my home?

A census employee will be sent to a dwelling for in-person non-response follow-up only when absolutely necessary. You are not required to let them into your home.

During in-person visits, census employees will follow the guidelines of local, regional, provincial, and territorial health authorities during the time that the census test is in operation.

Are census employees allowed to ask my neighbours for my personal information?

If you are not home when a census employee visits, they may ask your neighbours for general information, such as when you will be returning and how many people live in the home.

Census employees will not ask your neighbours personal questions on your age, marital status, income, education, etc.

Are there any privacy concerns with the use of cloud technology?

Information stored on Statistics Canada's cloud infrastructure platform is secure.

The Government of Canada-authorized Microsoft Azure cloud data centre, cloud infrastructure platform and the private network between them have all been assessed and authorized by the Government of Canada to transmit, store and process personal identifiable information.

Strict authentication and authorization controls restrict access to the private network. Statistics Canada keeps track of who accesses applications and services and logs their activity for future audits and reporting.

Why did I receive a text from "236732"? Is this a legitimate number?

As part of the 2024 Census Test, Statistics Canada is sending text reminders to households that have not yet completed their census test questionnaire.

The number "236732" is the text message short code which is used by Statistics Canada to reach respondents.

Has the Census Program sent text messages to respondents before?

Statistics Canada sent text reminders to non-responding households as part of the 2019 Census of Population Test and the 2021 Census of Population. The text reminders were perceived as an effective, non-invasive, and low-cost method of reminding respondents to complete their census questionnaire.

I do not want to receive any more texts from the Census of Population Test. What can I do?

You can opt out of receiving text messages from the 2024 Census of Population Test by replying "STOP" to the message you received. Please note that this response is recorded automatically, and replies are not otherwise monitored.

Are cell phone numbers not considered private information?

Statistics Canada treats all telephone number information it acquires under the authority of the Statistics Act as confidential.

Information collected under the Act is used only to support mandated programs of Statistics Canada. The information is not used for any other purpose, nor distributed to other parties, even within the Government of Canada.

Statistics Canada fully understands that some Canadians may be concerned if contacted on their cell phone by parties that are not immediate friends or family members. However, cell phone numbers are not considered private information (known only by the owner of the cell phone number).

What if I have registered my telephone number on the National Do Not Call List?

The list was launched to limit telemarketing calls. It does not apply to Statistics Canada or to text messages.

As a government agency required by law to conduct surveys, Statistics Canada is not subject to the National Do Not Call List (DNCL). We are mandated by the Statistics Act to conduct surveys to provide Canadians with accurate information on our society, economy, and people.

As a result, individuals who register their telephone numbers with the DNCL will continue to receive calls from Statistics Canada if they are part of a survey sample.