The Canada 2011 Census is a detailed enumeration of the Canadian population on May 10, 2011. Statistics Canada, an agency of the Canadian government, conducts a nationwide census every five years. In 2011, it consisted of a mandatory short form census questionnaire and an inaugural National Household Survey (NHS), a voluntary survey which replaced the mandatory long form census questionnaire; this substitution was the focus of much controversy. Completion of the (short form) census is mandatory for all Canadians, and those who do not complete it may face penalties ranging from fines to prison sentences.
The 2011 Census is the fifteenth decennial census and is required by section 8 of the Constitution Act, 1867. As with other decennial censuses, the data was used to adjust federal electoral district boundaries.
As of August 24, 2011, Canada's overall collection response rate was 98.1%, up over a percentage point from 96.5% in the 2006 Census. Ontario and Prince Edward Island each hold the highest response rate at 98.3%, while Nunavut holds the lowest response rate at 92.7%.
In an article in the New York Times in August 2015, journalist Stephen Marche argued that by ending the mandatory long-form census in 2011, the federal government "stripped Canada of its capacity to gather information about itself" in the "age of information." Nearly 500 organizations in Canada, including the Canadian Medical Association, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, the Canadian Federation of Students, and the Canadian Catholic Council of Bishops protested the decision to replace the long form Census in 2011 with a shorter version.
The original schedule of the short-form questions for the 2011 Census of Population was published in the Canada Gazette, Part I on August 21, 2010. The 2011 Census consisted of the same eight questions that appeared on the 2006 Census short-form questionnaire, with the addition of two questions on language. The federal Minister of Industry Tony Clement's announcement that questions about language would appear on the mandatory short-form census came in response to a lawsuit brought by the Federation of Francophone and Acadian Communities, which claimed that the voluntary status of the long-form census would impact language-related government services.