Dictionary, Census of Population, 2021
Language used most often at work

Release date: November 17, 2021Updated on: November 30, 2022


Language used most often at work refers to the language the person uses most often at work. A person can report more than one language as "used most often at work" if the languages are used equally often.

Statistical unit(s)


Reported in

2021 and 2016 (25% sample); 2011Footnote 1 (30% sample); 2006 and 2001 (20% sample).

Reported for

Population aged 15 years and older, in private households, who worked since January 1, 2020

Question number(s)

Direct variable: Question 50b)


Refer to figures 2.4, 2.4A, 2.4B, 2.4C2.4D2.4E, 2.4F, 2.4G, 2.4H, 2.4I, 2.4J and 2.4K for the detailed list of languages disseminated in the 2021 Census. A comparison of languages disseminated in the 2021, 2016 and 2011 censuses is available in Appendix 2.2.


The language of work question (Question 50) was divided into the following two parts:

a) In this job, what language(s) did this person use on a regular basis?

b) Of these languages, which one did this person use most often in this job?

"Language used most often at work" is a direct variable from Question 50b) on the census questionnaire.

A note accompanying Question 50b) on both the paper and electronic questionnaires stated "Indicate more than one language only if they were used equally at work."

The following additional instructions on how to complete the question on the language used most often at work (Question 50b)) were provided to respondents via a help button accessible in the electronic questionnaire:

Do not report a language that this person speaks solely at home even if this person now works from home (for example, because of the COVID‑19 pandemic).

Since 2001, the census has measured three language of work concepts: all languages used at work, the language used most often at work, and other languages used regularly at work. While the concepts themselves remain intact, both the way in which the question is asked and the process to obtain the variables have changed for the 2021 Census.

In 2021, the first part of the question (Question 50a)) asked for all languages used on a regular basis at work. Those who did not report English only or French only were asked which language they use most often at work (Question 50b)). This is different from the 2016 Census, which first asked respondents to report the language they used most often at work and then asked for any other languages used on a regular basis at work.

For more information on language variables, including information on their classifications, the questions from which they are derived, data quality and their comparability with other sources of data, please refer to the Languages Reference Guide, Census of Population, 2021.


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