About the Census Test

The 2019 Census Test

Statistics Canada conducts a census test to evaluate the new and modified questions of the questionnaire and the collection procedures and tools in preparation for the 2021 Census of Population and the 2021 Census of Agriculture. Testing ensures that quality data are available in 2021 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 2021 Census.

The 2019 Census Test was conducted in May 2019.

Census of Population

A sample of approximately 250,000 dwellings was selected to participate in this census test.

Participation in the 2019 Census Test is mandatory. By law, selected households must complete a census test questionnaire. 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

A sample of 10,000 farms or agricultural operations (across Canada) were selected to participate in the test. The Census of Agriculture measures the state of Canadian agriculture. The information is used to support market development, programs and services for this sector.

The 2019 Census of Agriculture Test is conducted on a voluntary basis. It relies on your census 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 2021 Census of Agriculture questionnaire is easily understood by and beneficial to all data users.


Statistics Canada places the highest priority on maintaining the confidentiality of the information it collects. Stringent procedures ensure that confidentiality is maintained at all times. At no time will Statistics Canada ever share your personal information – unless you authorized it. That's the law.

The transfer of historical census records to Library and Archives Canada, 92 years after a given census, no longer requires the consent of respondents. This is consistent with Statistics Canada's commitment to open and accessible data. Researchers, historians and genealogists require this information to conduct research and help us better understand our past and, therefore, better build our future.

However, data collected as part of the 2019 Census Test are not collected for publication; they are collected to prepare for the 2021 Census. As such, they will not be released as historical records 92 years after the 2019 Census Test.

The Statistics Act, Access to Information Act and Privacy Act govern the sharing of administrative data with Statistics Canada for statistical and research purposes.

  • All employees are sworn to secrecy when they are hired. The Statistics Act states that employees are liable to fines of up to $1,000 and/or jail terms of up to six months if they reveal personal information.
  • Private contractors do not have access to confidential data.
  • Only Statistics Canada employees with a need to know have access to personal and confidential information. All these employees go through a justification and approval process. These employees are able to collect, process and analyze completed questionnaires. They may access only the data they are working on.
  • When questionnaires are completed online, the information is protected through a number of measures, including a secure login process and strong bidirectional encryption between your browser and our servers.
  • Access to Statistics Canada buildings is controlled by a combination of physical measures and access procedures.
  • Census and census test data are processed and stored on a highly restricted internal network and cannot be accessed by anyone who has not taken the oath of secrecy.

Security of your information

The security of your information is of paramount importance to Statistics Canada. Census data are protected using a variety of security technologies such as firewalls, intrusion prevention and encryption. The systems processing census data must follow a thorough security authorization process before they are approved for operation.

Internet security: Completing your questionnaire online

Statistics Canada takes every precaution to protect your information. Transport Layer Security (also known as TLS) enhances the privacy of the information passing between your browser and our servers. By encrypting the information, this protocol provides a safe passage for data transmission and authentication.

Sophisticated security techniques, software, hardware and procedures are used to protect your information. Census test data are processed and stored on a highly restricted internal network and cannot be accessed by anyone who has not taken the oath of secrecy. Data submitted to our web servers are encrypted before being stored, and they remain encrypted until they are transferred to the high-security internal network.

Statistics Canada takes the protection of confidential information provided online very seriously. A secure login process and strong encryption are key elements in helping to prevent anyone from eavesdropping or tampering with your census information when you complete and send it online.

To protect the security of your personal information when you are using the Internet, Statistics Canada has incorporated the following safeguards:

  • We use strong bi-directional encryption technologies to ensure end-to-end security of data passing between your computer and our web server.
  • We use encryption methods based on Transport Layer Security.
  • Census data are processed and stored on an internal isolated network that cannot be connected to any outside link or accessed by any person or organization outside of Statistics Canada.
  • Data submitted to our web servers are encrypted before being stored and remain encrypted until they are transferred to the internal isolated network.
  • We use powerful firewalls, intrusion detection and stringent access control procedures to limit access to back-end systems and databases. Census employees who have proper authorization can access census data, but only from secure Statistics Canada sites.

IP address

The online census test questionnaire employs software programs to monitor network traffic to identify unauthorized attempts to upload or change information or to otherwise cause damage. This software receives and records the Internet Protocol (IP) address of the computer that has contacted our website and the date and time of the visit. No attempt is made to link these addresses with the identity of individuals visiting our site unless an attempt to damage the site has been detected.

Using administrative data sources for the 2019 Census Test

Statistics Canada has a long tradition of using data from administrative sources in its statistical programs. The use of administrative data for the census not only reduces collection costs and the burden on Canadians, but also often provides more precision.

In some cases, using administrative sources may be the only feasible way to collect important statistical information.

Use of Administrative data improves quality and saves time

Information from administrative sources is often more accurate than information collected through survey responses, since using administrative data has the advantage of reducing some types of reporting errors. Over time, increased use of administrative data would mean that Canadians supply the same information only once.

Use of Administrative data for the 2019 Census Test

One objective of the 2019 Census Test is to evaluate the impact of changes to census questionnaire content. Statistical analyses will be performed to validate and measure the impact of changes. These analyses include comparing responses from the 2019 Census Test with data from other sources, such as previous censuses and administrative records.

As with the 2016 Census, Statistics Canada will use existing administrative data sources such as immigration records and personal income tax and benefit data to manage the response burden on Canadians.

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