Polyamorous 2021 Census Participation

Census Day in Canada is May 11th, 2021.
Statistics Canada conducts the census every five years. This study is essential for maintaining an equitable distribution of electoral boundaries, estimates the demand for services (and allocation of government funding), and provides information about the population and housing characteristics within geographic areas. This supports planning, administration, policy development and evaluation activities of government at all levels.
Why should Polyamorous Individuals Complete the Census?

We strongly encourage all polyamorous individuals residing in Canada to complete the census. We view this year’s census as an opportunity to demonstrate the importance of advocacy for the needs of polyamorous individuals and families in Canada. Data pertaining to multi-adult households, multi-parent families, and the prevalence of non-nuclear family structures is important for regional districts in terms of future planning for housing capacity, schools, and essential infrastructure.

The current census options do not allow for the inclusion of polyamory or data about multi-partner relationships, families, or other forms of open relationships. In order to advocate our need for inclusion, we need to demonstrate our numbers. Our hope is that in areas with a high concentration of polyamorous individuals and families (such as Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal), the responses we suggest below will be statistically significant enough to warrant polyamory-inclusivity by Statistics Canada studies in the future.

As more data is gathered about the numbers of polyamorous individuals within Canada, we at the CPAA will be better resourced with data that demonstrates the importance of our legal advocacy work, including working towards legal and cultural changes that permit multiple parents to be listed on birth & adoption certificates, and that allow for polyamorous partners to be legally recognised as family, common-law, and next-of-kin, without contracts of marriage. 

What does the Census want to know about me?

The census asks for basic information about your age, your relationships with the people you live with, your sex assigned at birth, your gender, what languages you speak, and a few other pieces of biographical data. If you receive the long form census (1 in 5 households receive this) you will be asked for additional information regarding disabilities, employment, and education. All identifying information is kept private, and you do not need to use your legal name to answer (a nickname, for example, is fine).

In both the short and long forms of the census, one resident is asked to complete the census on behalf of all occupants. You will be asked to list the occupants of your home and then describe their relationship to you. For this question, the following options are given:
Husband or wife of Person 1,
Common-law partner of Person 1,
Son or daughter of Person 1,
Grandchild of Person 1,
Son-in-law or daughter-in-law of Person 1,
Father or mother of Person 1,
Father-in-law or mother-in-law of Person 1,
Brother or sister of Person 1,
Foster child,
Roommate, lodger or boarder,
Other relationship — specify.

We are recommending that all polyamorous individuals who cohabitate with any partner (regardless of whether they are married, common law, etc) choose “Other Relationship” and write in specifics from the following, as appropriate:
Polyamorous Partner
Polyamorous Spouse
Polyamorous Metamour
Polyamorous Co-parent
Polyamorous Family Member

View an example of the long form census: https://www.statcan.gc.ca/eng/statistical-programs/instrument/3901_Q2_V6
View an example of the short form census:

Statistics Canada is prohibited by law from releasing any information it collects that could identify any person, business, or organization unless consent has been given by the respondent or as permitted by the Statistics Act. Various confidentiality rules are applied to all released or published data to prevent the publication or disclosure of any information deemed confidential.

Sounds great: how do I do this?

Letters inviting you to complete the census will start arriving in your mailbox soon. In remote areas, it is possible you will receive a paper form delivered by an enumerator.

Here are some examples of how polyamorous individuals might fill out the census. These examples are not exhaustive, and we recognise that there are many unique situations for polyamorous families. In deciding who will be “Person 1” we recommend you draw out your co-habiting polycule, and choose Person 1 based on who has the most direct connections to the others in your household:

1) Ali and Sam are married. At the beginning of the pandemic, Ali’s boyfriend Mo moved in with them. Ali completes the census for the household.
– Ali is Person 1
– Sam is Person 2 and defined as Person 1’s “Polyamorous Spouse”
– Mo is Person 3 and defined as Person 1’s “Polyamorous Partner”

2) Chris, Toni, Jaz, and Bri are part of a Relationship Anarchy-style open polycule and live together. Chris and Bri are metamors via a partner who doesn’t live with them, Bri and Jaz are dating, while Jaz and Toni have a queer-platonic relationship that they describe as a life partnership.
– Bri is Person 1
– Jaz is Person 2 and is defined as Person 1’s “Polyamorous Partner”
– Chris is Person 3 and is defined as Person 1’s “Polyamorous Metamour”
– Toni is Person 4 and is defined as Person 1’s “Polyamorous Metamour”

3) Eli, Costas, and Kat are a polyamorous family who resides together. Eli and Costas used to be married and had a child together before opening up and meeting Kat. Costas and Eli are now divorced and remain best friends who are no longer romantically involved. Costas has a child with Kat. They all live together harmoniously and co-parent their two kids, Jo and Wren.
– Costas is Person 1
– Eli is Person 2 and defined as Person 1’s Polyamorous Co-Parent
– Kat is Person 3 and defined as Person 1’s Polyamorous Partner
– Jo is Person 4 and defined as Person 1’s child
– Wren is Person 5 and defined as Person 1’s child. 

4) Nic and Mel live together and are considered common-law. They are polyamorous, but none of their partners live with them. They have a roommate, Oli, who is polyamorous but not in a relationship with them, nor connected to any of their partners in any way. 
– Nic is Person 1
– Mel is Person 2 and is defined as Person 1’s Polyamorous Partner

-Oli is Person 3 and is defined as Person 1’s Roommate.

5) Quinn and Rae are roommates who are both Solo Polyamorous. They’ve been metamours in the past, and currently have relationships that loosely connect them in a larger polycule.
– Quinn is Person 1

– Rae is Person 2 and defined as Person 1’s Polyamorous Family Member.

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