Coverage Technical Report, Census of Population, 2016
2. Census universe

2.1 Introduction

While the 2016 Census collects information on the population, dwellings, households and families, the 2016 Census Coverage Error Measurement Program estimates the coverage error of the population universe only. However, the definitions of dwelling concepts and the rules for determining the list of people who should be enumerated in each dwelling affect coverage of the census target population. As a result, this section describes the concepts of population and dwelling. In addition, since coverage error can be caused by misinterpreting the concept of usual place of residence as defined in census questionnaires, this section also provides the information in the census questionnaires, and the 2016 Census definition of usual place of residence.

2.2 Population universe

The 2016 Census target population includes the following groups:

The 2016 Census population universe does not include foreign residents, but since 1991, it has included non-permanent residents.

The definition of target population specifies which persons should be included in the census, but not where these persons should be enumerated. The Canadian census uses the modified de jure method of enumeration, under which persons are to be enumerated at their usual place of residence, even if they are temporarily away on Census Day. Persons away from their usual place of residence and residing elsewhere in Canada must be enumerated at their usual place of residence and are considered present, but temporarily at the other location. Persons who have no usual place of residence are to be enumerated wherever they happen to be on Census Day. Some countries use the de facto method, under which all persons are to be enumerated wherever they are on Census Day, regardless of their usual place of residence.

2.3 Dwelling universe

A dwelling is defined as a set of living quarters. Two types of dwellings are identified in the census: private dwellings and collective dwellings. Census coverage studies include these two types of dwellings, without distinction.

Private dwelling refers to a separate set of living quarters with a private entrance either from outside the building or from a common hall, lobby, vestibule or stairway inside the building. The entrance to the dwelling must be one that can be used without passing through the living quarters of some other person or group of persons.

The dwelling must meet the two conditions necessary for year-round occupancy:

  1. a source of heat or power (as evidenced by chimneys, power lines, oil or gas pipes or meters, generators, woodpiles, electric lights, heating pumps or solar panels).
  2. an enclosed space that provides shelter from the elements as evidenced by complete and enclosed walls and roof, and by doors and windows that provide protection from wind, rain and snow.

Dwellings that do not meet the conditions necessary for year-round occupancy are marginal dwellings. Private dwellings are classified into regular private dwellings and occupied marginal dwellings. Regular private dwellings are further classified into three major groups: occupied dwellings (occupied by usual residents), dwellings occupied solely by foreign residents and/or by temporarily present persons and unoccupied dwellings. Marginal dwellings are classified as occupied by usual residents or occupied solely by foreign residents and/or by temporarily present persons. Marginal dwellings that were unoccupied on May 10, 2016, are not counted in the housing stock.

A collective dwelling is a dwelling of commercial, institutional or communal nature. It may be identified by a sign on the premises or by an enumerator speaking with the person in charge, a resident, a neighbour, etc. Included are lodging or rooming houses, hotels, motels, tourist establishments, nursing homes, hospitals, staff residences, military bases, work camps, jails, group homes, and so on.

Collective dwellings are classified as either occupied dwellings or unoccupied dwellings. Occupied dwellings are either occupied by usual residents or occupied solely by foreign residents or by persons temporarily present. In the case of unoccupied collective dwellings, data on the dwelling, such as the types of services offered, were collected but are not included in census products.

In summary, the dwelling universe includes the following:

The dwelling universe does not include the following:

2.4 Usual place of residence

Under the de jure enumeration method used in the Canadian population census, the population is enumerated on a “usual place of residence” basis, that is, at the location where a person lives most of the time. Most people have only one residence, and it is easy to enumerate them at their usual place of residence. Enumeration involves listing all the persons having this dwelling as their usual place of residence on Census Day by following the step-by-step instructions at the beginning of the census questionnaire: “How many persons usually live at this address on May 10, 2016, including yourself? Include: all persons who have their main residence at this address, even if they are temporarily away. See the instructions on page 3 (joint custody, students, landed immigrants, secondary residence, etc.).” The instructions on page 3 of the 2016 Census questionnaire are presented in Appendix A.

In some cases, it is difficult to determine a person’s usual place of residence. That is why special rules were developed for determining usual place of residence in some cases:

  1. Persons with more than one residence
  2. This category includes all persons who have more than one dwelling in Canada that could be considered their usual place of residence. In this situation, the usual place of residence is the place where a person spends the majority of the year. If the person spends the same amount of time at both residences or is not sure which one to choose, they should choose the residence where they stayed overnight between May 9 and 10, 2016. There are two exceptions to this rule:
    1. Children who live somewhere else while attending school or working at a summer job but return to live with their parents for part of the year should consider the residence they share with their parents to be their usual place of residence, even if they spend most of the year elsewhere.
    2. Spouses or common-law partners who live away from their families while working or studying but return to their families periodically should consider the residence they share with their spouse to be their usual place of residence, even if they spend most of the year elsewhere.
  1. Persons in an institution, such as a hospital, home for the aged, prison or correctional institution
  2. Persons who have been in one or more institutions for a continuous period of six months or longer at the time of the census are to be considered usual residents of the institution.
  1. Persons with no usual place of residence
  2. Persons who do not have a usual place of residence should be enumerated in the dwelling where they stayed overnight between May 9 and 10, 2016.
  1. Persons residing outside Canada
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