Dictionary, Census of Population, 2021
Net self-employment income

Release date: November 17, 2021Updated on: July 13, 2022


Net income (gross receipts minus cost of operation and capital cost allowance) received during the reference period from self‑employment activities, either on own account or in partnership. In the case of partnerships, only the person's share of income is included. Net partnership income of a limited or non‑active partner is excluded. It includes farming income, fishing income and income from unincorporated business or professional practice. Commission income for a self‑employed commission salesperson and royalties from a work or invention with expenses associated are also included in this source.

For the 2021 Census, the reference period for income data is the calendar year 2020, unless otherwise specified.

Statistical unit(s)


Reported in

2021 and 2016 (100% data); 2011Footnote 1 (30% sample); 2006, 2001, 1996, 1991, 1986 and 1981 (20% sample). For availability prior to 1981, refer to Appendix 2.1.

Reported for

Population aged 15 years and over in private households

Question number(s)

Variable derived based on administrative tax and benefit records received from the Canada Revenue Agency.


Positive or negative dollar value or nil


See 'Remarks' under total income.

This variable is a component of employment income. See also income sources.

For more information, please refer to Appendix 2.4 Components of income in 2020.

Net partnership income of a limited or non‑active partner was included in net self‑employment income before the 2016 Census. Since the 2016 Census, it is included in investment income.

For the 2021 Census, this concept included subsidies from various government financial aid programs to support businesses in 2020 in response to the COVID‑19 pandemic, such as the Temporary Wage Subsidy for Employers (TWSE), the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS), and the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) that helped cover part of payroll.

Some self‑employed individuals were eligible for benefits from other COVID‑19 – Emergency and recovery benefits, such as the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB), etc. in 2020. These benefits were not classified under 'net self‑employment income,' but rather under COVID‑19 emergency and recovery benefits as a component of the Government transfers not included elsewhere variable.

For the 2021 Census, net self‑employment income is also available for reference year 2019 in order to provide baseline information to assess the economic impact of the COVID‑19 pandemic. Income for 2019 is presented in 2020 constant dollars.

For more information about the income sources that are available for reference year 2019, and for additional information about COVID-19 benefits, data collection method, coverage, reference period, concepts, data quality and intercensal comparability of the income data, please refer to the Income Reference Guide, Census of Population, 2021.


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