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Non-permanent residents and the census universe

In the 2006 Census, non-permanent residents are defined as people from another country who, at the time of the census, held a Work or Study Permit, or who were refugee claimants, as well as family members living in Canada with them. In the 1991, 1996 and 2001 censuses, non-permanent residents also included persons who held a Minister's permit; this was discontinued by Citizenship and Immigration Canada prior to the 2006 Census.

From 1991 on, the Census of Population has enumerated both permanent and non-permanent residents of Canada. Prior to 1991, only permanent residents of Canada were included in the census. (The only exception to this occurred in 1941.) Non-permanent residents were considered foreign residents and were not enumerated.

Total population counts, as well as counts for all variables, are affected by this change in the census universe. Users should be especially careful when comparing data from 1991, 1996, 2001 or 2006 with data from previous censuses in geographic areas where there is a concentration of non-permanent residents.

Today in Canada, non-permanent residents make up a significant segment of the population, especially in several census metropolitan areas. Their presence can affect the demand for such government services as health care, schooling, employment programs and language training. The inclusion of non-permanent residents in the census facilitates comparisons with provincial and territorial statistics (marriages, divorces, births and deaths) which include this population. In addition, this inclusion of non-permanent residents brings Canadian practice closer to the United Nations (UN) recommendation that long-term residents (persons living in a country for one year or longer) be enumerated in the census.

Although every attempt has been made to enumerate non-permanent residents, factors such as language difficulties, the reluctance to complete a government form or to understand the need to participate may have affected the enumeration of this population.

For additional information, please refer to the 2006 Census Dictionary, catalogue number 92-566-XWE or 92-566-XPE.

For counts of the non-permanent resident population in 1991, 2001 and 2006, please refer to the 2006 Census table 97-557-XCB2006006.