Dictionary, Census of Population, 2021
Government transfers

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


All cash benefits received from federal, provincial, territorial or municipal governments during the reference period. It includes:

For the 2021 Census, this includes various benefits from new and existing federal, provincial and territorial government income programs intended to provide financial support to individuals affected by the COVID‑19 pandemic and the public health measures implemented to minimize the spread of the virus.

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 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 dollar value or nil


See 'Remarks' under total income.

See income sources.

See also COVID‑19 – Government income support and benefits.

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

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


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