Guide to the Census of Population, 2016
Chapter 3 – Communications

The Census Communications Team provided pro-active communications programs that were creative and cost-effective, while maintaining a positive, non-partisan, corporate image of Statistics Canada.

For the 2016 Census, census communication materials focused on:

Communications activities for the 2016 Census of Population took place throughout the entire collection process to inform Canadians about the benefits of completing the 2016 Census questionnaire and encourage them to complete their questionnaire online.

Key activities

The main activities of the 2016 Census Communications Program included advertising, outreach, public and media relations, social media, implementing an Aboriginal strategy and managing the census website.


The advertising campaign was used to inform Canadians of the importance, relevance, and security of information collected by the Census of Population.

Television, radio, print and digital channels were used during the months of April and May 2016 to encourage households to complete their questionnaire, with a focus on online response.


The 2016 outreach strategy extended the reach of traditional census promotional activities by engaging with key stakeholders at the community level to promote census job opportunities, as well as the benefits of the census.

Outreach activities were prioritized to target specific organizations whose constituencies were among the hard-to-enumerate and included contact with community leaders, data users and organizations, among others.

Public relations

Public relations activities supported census recruitment and collection. Primary activities included contacting federal departments and agencies to request that they support the census by disseminating census messaging to the public.

Public relations activities also reached out to specific groups, such as educators, foreign embassies in Canada and police services.

Media relations

Media relations maintained and monitored media coverage across the country during the census collection period (May, June and July 2016). Traditional and new media were used to report on key aspects and operational milestones of the census.

A media strategy was implemented to:

Social media

Over the course of the past few years, Statistics Canada has been using social media to increase access to its relevant, accurate and timely statistical information and foster engagement, cooperation and information-sharing with the public. Statistics Canada's official social media accounts include Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

The official social media accounts were used intensively to communicate and engage with the public during the 2016 Census of Population recruitment and collection phases.

Aboriginal strategy

To improve engagement levels among Aboriginal communities, Statistics Canada developed strategic plans, used internal and external partnerships and created customized support materials. The purpose of the Aboriginal strategy was to increase awareness among Aboriginal peoples about job opportunities within their communities, increase the number of Aboriginal applicants for census jobs, support the collection of data in Aboriginal communities and provide support materials that encouraged participation while respecting cultural diversity.

Census website

The 2016 Census website promoted the benefits of the census, provided information and instructions for completing the questionnaires and supported census recruitment.

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