Rights & Money

2021 Census Will Go Ahead—But “Contact-Free”

Counting every Canadian in the midst of a pandemic means hiring lots of people to conduct a physically distanced census

By Caitlin Finlay


Every five years, Statistics Canada gathers information on every person living in Canada, and the agency isn’t about to let the COVID-19 pandemic stop the 2021 census. To make a “contact-free” physically distanced census possible this spring, StatCan is hiring 32,000 people across the country to conduct the necessary surveys over the phone, online, or on paper.

The data collected in the census provides a picture of the Canadian population and is used to help make decisions at the municipal, provincial, and federal levels.

“Over the past 100 years, through the census, Statistics Canada has captured an ever-evolving snapshot of the country and its people,” Anil Arora, Chief Statistician of Canada at Statistics Canada, said in a press release. “Canadians have relied on census data to tell them about how the country is changing and about what matters to them.”

The 2021 census will be the first conducted during a public-health emergency, and the information it gathers will help guide pandemic response, including determining vaccine distribution and identifying vulnerable neighbourhoods and populations.

The data collection will consist of short- and long-form surveys that are to be completed online, on paper, or by phone. StatCan hopes to increase the number of online responses in this census, aiming for a goal of 80% online responses compared to the 68% from the last census, in 2016. Online responses can be provided through what StatCan calls a “user-friendly online application.” In-person visits will happen only when the other methods aren’t possible and will be conducted from outside of the respondents’ homes while physically distanced and with masks in place.

The census will take place in May 2021, and those interested in being hired to conduct it will have to be available to work 20 to 40 hours a week between March and July. Applicants, who must be 18 years or older and eligible to work within Canada, will have to be flexible, since the job involves working primarily evenings and weekends. Those hired wouldn’t be required to travel but would work locally. There are both supervisory and non-supervisory positions available. Depending on the position, census workers can expect an hourly pay rate between $17.83 and $21.77, and those working in Northern and select remote areas can expect $29.25 to $31.25 an hour.

If you’re interested in applying as a census worker or would like more information regarding the hiring process, you can click here to access the census jobs webpage.

Photo: iStock: Marc Bruxelle.