Census learning centre
Census dwellings

Release date: April 27, 2022

Catalogue number: 982000032021006

Hello and welcome to the "Census dwellings" video!

This video will provide viewers with a basic understanding of the differences between a private dwelling and a collective dwelling, the classification of private dwellings into regular and marginal dwellings and the classification of collective dwellings into institutional and non-institutional collective dwellings. Viewers will also learn about the method of enumeration of these dwellings.


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Concept video: Census dwellings - Transcription

(The Statistics Canada symbol and "Canada" wordmark appear on screen with the title: "Concept video: Census dwellings".)

Welcome to the Census dwellings video. In this video, we will be looking at the difference between a private dwelling; and a collective dwelling (institutional or non-institutional collective dwelling).

(Figure titled "Dwelling categories," appears on the screen showing the breakdown of the 2021 dwelling categories. Dwellings are broken down into the collective dwelling and private dwelling categories.

The collective dwelling category is further broken down into the institutional dwelling and non institutional dwelling categories. The institutional dwelling category is further divided into three sub categories: occupied by usual residents, occupied by foreign residents or temporarily present persons, and unoccupied.

The non institutional dwelling category is further divided into three sub categories: occupied by usual residents, occupied by foreign residents or temporarily present persons, and unoccupied.

The private dwelling category is further broken down into the regular dwelling and marginal dwelling categories. The regular dwelling category is further divided into three sub categories: occupied by usual residents, occupied by foreign residents or temporarily present persons, and unoccupied.

The marginal dwelling category is further specified as occupied by usual residents.

Note: Data for unoccupied dwellings and dwellings occupied solely by foreign residents or temporarily present persons are not published.

Source: Statistics Canada, Census of Population, 2021.)

Let’s start with defining a dwelling. A dwelling is a set of living quarters in which persons reside or could reside.

Dwellings are distinct from households. The characteristics of a dwelling are the physical attributes of a set of living quarters, whereas household characteristics pertain to the persons who occupy the dwelling.

Two types of dwellings are identified in the census: private dwellings; and collective dwellings.

First, we will take a look at private dwellings.

A private dwelling is a separate set of living quarters with a private entrance either from outside or from a common hall, lobby, vestibule or stairway inside the building.

The entrance to the dwelling must be accessible without passing through someone else’s living quarters.

A private dwelling may be:

  1. regular, if it meets the two conditions necessary for year-round use: having its own source of heat or power and being an enclosed space providing shelter; or
  2. marginal, if it does not meet the previous two conditions, as it was not built, maintained or converted for year-round use.

Examples of marginal dwellings are summer cottages and uncovered barns or garages. Marginal dwellings are enumerated only if occupied on Census Day.

All inhabited private dwellings are enumerated, whether they are regular or marginal. All unoccupied regular dwellings are also enumerated.

If a building structure is determined to be a private dwelling, then a census employee adds the dwelling to the enumeration register. A questionnaire is assigned to this dwelling, which is to be completed by the occupants.

A regular private dwelling can be classified into one of three major groups:

  • dwellings occupied by usual residents
  • dwellings occupied by foreign residents or by temporarily present persons, or
  • unoccupied dwellings

Private dwellings in which a person or a group of persons is permanently residing are considered dwellings occupied by usual residents.

Private dwellings whose usual residents are temporarily absent on Census Day are also enumerated.

Private dwellings in which all residents on Census Day are temporary residents whose usual place of residence is elsewhere in Canada or outside Canada are considered private dwellings occupied solely by foreign residents or by temporarily present persons.

Next, we will look at collective dwellings.

A collective dwelling refers to a dwelling of a commercial, institutional or communal nature in which a person or group of persons resides or could reside. It must provide care or services or have certain common facilities, such as a kitchen or bathroom, that are shared by the occupants.

Only data for collective dwellings occupied by usual residents are published in standard census products.

A collective dwelling can be classified as institutional or non-institutional.

What are considered institutional collective dwellings?

The following are considered institutional collective dwellings:

  • health care and related facilities, including: hospitals; nursing homes; residential care facilities such as group homes for persons with disabilities or addictions
  • correctional and custodial facilities; and
  • shelters

What are non-institutional collective dwellings?

Non-institutional collective dwellings are mainly used for commercial or communal purposes. This category consists of service-oriented collective dwellings.

Non-institutional collective dwellings include:

  • seniors’ residences
  • lodging and rooming houses
  • hotels, motels and tourist establishments
  • campgrounds and parks
  • school residences and training centre residences
  • work camps
  • other establishments with temporary accommodation services
  • religious establishments
  • Hutterite colonies
  • military bases and commercial and government vessels and
  • other collective dwellings

Collection procedures for the 2021 Census were redesigned to ensure respondents and census employees were safe by limiting the amount of contact needed to participate in the census. No census employee from Statistics Canada was permitted to visit or enter institutional collective dwellings, especially the dwellings housing residents who are vulnerable to COVID-19, such as residences for senior citizens and hospitals.

For the 2021 Census, collective dwellings were enumerated using one of the following methods:

  • self-response via electronic questionnaire
  • canvasser (this method was only used for lodging or rooming houses and Hutterite colonies)
  • usual resident head count or
  • administrative data

As the long-form questionnaire 2A-L was not used to collect information from collective dwellings, the population living in collective dwellings is not included in tables based on data from this questionnaire.

More information on the collection methods used for collective dwellings is available in Chapter 7 of the Guide to the Census of Population, 2021, Catalogue no. 98-304-X.

(The words "Thank you for watching the Census dwellings video!" appear on screen.)

This concludes the Census dwellings video.

(The census logo appears with a link, which is also available to view here: Census of population.)

For more detailed information regarding concepts, variables, methodology, historical comparability and other elements, please refer to Statistics Canada census pages.

(The "Canada" wordmark appears. ISBN 978-0-660-41515-4)

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