Release and Concepts Overview
2016 Census of Population:
Age and sex release

Release date: March 15, 2017 Updated on: April 24, 2017

1. Objectives

Census of Population release topics will be accompanied by their own Release and Concepts Overview and will be available from Statistics Canada's website in advance of each release.

The purpose of the Release and Concepts Overview series is to provide an overview of:

  • the concepts, definitions and key indicators used by each of the major 2016 Census of Population releases

  • the products that will be available on each major day of release and later.

The Release and Concepts Overview series will help partners, stakeholders and other data users to better understand the information being released.

This Release and Concepts Overview is for the Age and sex release which will be on May 3, 2017.

The information provided in this overview is subject to change.

2. Concepts and definitions: Age and sex

Target population

Canadian citizens and landed immigrants with a usual place of residence in Canada, or who are abroad either on a military base, attached to a diplomatic mission, at sea or in port aboard merchant vessels under Canadian registry or Canadian government vessels.

Non-permanent residents in Canada:

  • Refugee claimants and their family living with them in Canada
  • Permit holders (work or study permits) and members of their family living with them in Canada

Foreign residents are excluded from the target population:

  • Government representatives of another country, and their family members
  • Members of the armed forces of another country who are stationed in Canada
  • Residents of another country visiting Canada temporarily

Age and age groups

Refers to the age at last birthday before the reference date, that is, before May 10, 2016.

Many age groups can be used, such as 5-year age groups and open age groups:

  • 5-year age groups: 0 to 4, 5 to 9, 10 to 14, …, 95 to 99
  • Broader age groups: 0 to 14 (children), 15 to 64 (working-age population), 55 to 64
  • Open age groups: 65+ (seniors), 85+ and 100+ (centenarians)


Refers to whether the person is male or female.

  • Information pertaining to sex is collected according to two categories: male and female.
  • For the 2016 Census of Population, transgender, transsexual and intersex Canadians were asked to indicate the sex (male or female) with which they most associated themselves. Respondents who could not select one category when completing Question 2 on their census questionnaire had the option of leaving the question blank and indicating in the Comments section, the reason(s) for which they had chosen to leave this question unanswered.
  • The questions used in every census are based on extensive public consultations and testing. For the 2021 Census of Population Program, Statistics Canada will again consult with Canadians on the content of the census questionnaire. This will afford us the opportunity to gather information on our users and uses of census data, and to evaluate if there are new ways to collect data for respondents who do not identify themselves with the current response categories.

3. Key indicators

Population counts (in number) by age groups

  • Example: On May 10, 2011, the number of people aged 65 years and over had reached 5.7 million.

Population change (in percentage) over the last five years for age groups

  • Example: Between 2006 and 2011, the proportion of elderly people increased by 14.1%.

Population share (in percentage) of age groups

  • Proportion, in percentage, of an age group.

    Example: According to the 2011 Census, the population aged 0 to 14 represented 16.7% of the Canadian population.

Mean age and median age

  • The mean age of a population is the average age of all its members.

    Example: The mean age in Canada in 2011 was 40.1 years.

  • The median age is an age 'x,' such that exactly one half of the population is older than 'x' and the other half is younger than 'x.'

    Example: The median age in Canada in 2011 was 40.6 years.

Male/female ratio

  • The ratio of the number of men to the number of women. This ratio is usually expressed as an index, with the number of females taken to be a base of 100.

    Example: The male/female ratio in Canada was 96.2 on Census Day in 2011, meaning that the country counted more females than males.

4. Products and activities available with this release

The following will be available with the Age and sex release on May 3, 2017:

  • Analytical products
    • The Daily article
    • Census in Brief
    • Video
    • Infographic
    • Age pyramids
  • Data products
    • Highlight tables
    • Data tables
    • Census Profile
    • Focus on Geography Series

  • Reference products
    • Release and Concepts Overview series
    • Guide to the Census of Population, 2016
    • Census Dictionary
  • Geography products
    • Thematic maps
    • GeoSearch
  • Social media
    • Facebook
    • Twitter
    • YouTube
    • Chat with an expert (May 5, 2017)

The following provides additional details on some key products that will be available at the time of the Age and sex release. Together, they will provide main findings, important messages, latest trends and additional background information.

  • The Daily article: This will include the age and sex results at the national level as well as the provincial, territorial and sub-provincial levels.

  • Census in Brief: Two short articles will provide analyses focusing on current population issues involving challenges that are relevant from a public policy perspective:

    • A portrait of the population aged 85 and older in 2016 in Canada

    • Recent trends for the population aged 15 to 64 in Canada.

  • Video: This will provide a historical perspective of aging in Canada.

  • Infographic: This will allow users to quickly visualize some key findings on age and sex trends from the 2016 Census of Population.

  • Historical age pyramid (1851 to 2036): This will show the age structure of Canada, provinces and territories over time.

  • Comparison age pyramid (2011 and 2016): This will allow users to compare the age structure of two different geographical entities for Canada, the provinces and the territories.

  • Highlight tables: They present focused information for various levels of geography. These tables allow users to perform simple rank and sort functions and include percentage distributions and percentage changes from previous censuses to facilitate comparisons between years, and different geographic areas.

  • Data tables: These cross-tabulations allow for a more detailed examination of Canada, by comparing up to eight variables across various levels of geography.

  • Census Profile: This product provides key statistics about the dwellings and the people living there. Users are able to select a standard geographic area and compare two geographic areas. They can search by place name or postal code for an area of interest as large as Canada or as small as a grouping of city blocks.

  • Focus on Geography Series: This will present age and sex highlights through short text, tables and figures for various levels of geography, including Canada, provinces and territories, census metropolitan areas (CMAs), census agglomerations (CAs) and Canadian municipalities (census subdivisions).

  • Guide to the Census of Population, 2016: This reference document provides an overview of the 2016 Census of Population processes, including content determination, collection, processing, data quality assessment, data dissemination and data suppression. It also includes response rates, global non-response rates, the distribution of the number of census subdivisions for which data have been published, by province and territory and at the national level, as well as other data quality information.

    The majority of the content was released with the population and dwelling counts release, additional content will be added with the release of age and sex and type of dwelling, and subsequent releases.

  • Census Dictionary: This provides detailed definitions of census concepts, variables and geographic terms, as well as historical information to facilitate the comparison between census years.

    Content is released cumulatively through to November 2017, with the majority of the definitions released on May 3, 2017.

  • Social media activities with this release

  • Facebook, YouTube and Twitter: The official social media accounts will also be used to communicate and engage with the public for the dissemination of results from the 2016 Census of Population.

  • Chat with an expert: Users are invited to chat with Statistics Canada experts on the topics of Age and sex and Type of dwelling on May 5, 2017, from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m., Eastern daylight time. For more information, refer to Statistics Canada’s website: Chat with an expert.

5. Products available after release

The following products will be available with later releases:

Analytical products

  • Articles in Insights on Canadian Society (ICS)
  • Data visualization tool. More information about this initiative will be made available during the release cycle.

Data products

  • Additional data tables at various levels of geography
  • 2016 Census Aboriginal Population Profile
  • 2016 Census Individuals Public Use Microdata File (PUMF)
  • 2016 Census Hierarchical Public Use Microdata File (PUMF)
  • 2016 Census Long-form Research Data Centre (RDC) Microdata File

Reference products

  • Reference guides (various topics)
  • Technical reports

6. 2016 Census Program web module

To access the 2016 Census of Population products, please consult the 2016 Census Program web module.

7. 2016 Census Program release schedule

Release dates, 2016 Census Program
Release date Release topic
November 16, 2016 Geography
February 8, 2017 Population and dwelling counts
May 3, 2017

Age and sex

Type of dwelling

May 10, 2017 Census of Agriculture
August 2, 2017

Families, households and marital status


September 13, 2017 Income
October 25, 2017

Immigration and ethnocultural diversity


Aboriginal peoples

November 29, 2017



Journey to work

Language of work

Mobility and migration

8. Contact information

General enquiries

Media Relations – Media Hotline

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