Dictionary, Census of Population, 2021
Social assistance benefits

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


All social assistance payments received by persons in need during the reference period. On the basis of need, eligible social assistance recipients may receive assistance to cover the cost of food, shelter, clothing and other daily necessities. Other allowances may also be granted to persons with special needs or circumstances, such as elderly persons, persons with disabilities, single‑parent families and persons with barriers to employment.

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).

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 dollar value or nil


See 'Remarks' under total income.

This variable is a component of other government transfers. See also income sources.

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

For additional information about COVID‑19 benefits, data collection method, coverage, reference period, concepts, data quality, and the intercensal comparability of the income data, refer to the Income Reference Guide, Census of Population, 2021.

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