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Census FAQs

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Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about Census 2018.

I lost or didn’t receive my PIN card, what do I do?

Contact PULSE at 780-743-7000 or

What is the purpose of the census?

The main purpose is to produce a population count. This count provides the basis for valuable grants from the provincial and federal governments. It’s estimated that each person counted in the 2018 census will bring more than $200 in funding to municipal coffers.

Why don’t we just use the federal government’s census information?

The federal census that’s takes place every five years doesn’t capture the shadow population (mostly work camps), which is a significant part of Wood Buffalo’s population. In 2015, it counted for a third of the population. Counting the shadow population is essential for getting adequate grant funding from the province.

What’s a shadow population?

The shadow population refers to anyone who has a permanent home elsewhere, but works in a commercial or industrial job in the region at least 30 days a year. These individuals are often found living in work camps, hotels and motels, campgrounds, rented rooms or suites in a private residence. Homeless people are also included in the shadow population.

Why are we doing a census this year specifically?

Changes to provincial legislation in 2013 require the municipality to count the shadow population at minimum every three years or else lose the funding that applies to it – approximately $200 per person per year. Given that the last accepted count was in 2015, it’s necessary to count the population this year.

What kind of funding does the RMWB receive that’s tied to census information?

The three biggest grants are the Municipality Sustainability Fund, the Basic Municipal Transportation Grant, and the Federal Gas Tax Fund. This funding can be applied to a wide range of municipal spending including airports and equipment, ambulances and stations, maintenance and equipment, disaster and emergency services, fire (vehicles, equipment, training), libraries, affordable housing, animal control facilities, animal shelters, seniors lodges, parks, recreation and sports facilities, police services, public transit, roadways and bridges, solid waste management, storm sewer, water and wastewater.

How else is census information used?

Census information helps develop indicators and growth projections useful to attract investors and developers. It’s also used to develop neighbourhood profiles. In the last census, we learned that nearly half the community is comprised of newcomers and seasonal workers, and that nearly 60 per cent of the population lives uptown. Households in the region comprise 2.9 individuals on average. Information like that can only be drawn from the census.

How is the social profit sector affected by the census?

Many social profits are funded on a population basis. They also use the data for operational and longer-term planning.

How does census information impact municipal budgeting?

Census information is used to assess existing growth and service targets as well as long-term requirements for capital development and operational planning. In short, it’s essential for the annual municipal budget cycles.

Why is it essential that everyone participates in the census?

If the municipality misses more than one percent of usual residents in the count, the census results may not be accepted as official by the province. If this happens, the municipality will become ineligible for provincial grants that could be as much as $200 per person annually.

How is this census different from the last one?

This census is very similar to the last one with a few more questions to help us collect some very important demographic information. Even with the increase in the number of questions, it would not take you long to fill out the questionnaire.

My basement suite is rented out and I’m not sure it’s up to code – how will the census affect me?

When census takers come around, their focus is to count the people in a residence, not assess whether it’s up to code. Our goal is to ensure that we have an accurate count of the population to make sure that the municipality receives the maximum provincial funding. We also have measures in place to protect the privacy of the residents who participate in the census.

How long does it take to plan the census?

The amount of time it takes to plan the census differs among municipalities. The unique conditions that exist in our municipality increase the complexity; planning the census is a massive undertaking. Preparations for Census 2018 have been underway since August 2017.

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