Jewish? This year’s census is more important than ever before

By Judy Zelikovitz

Judy Zelikovitz, VP Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs

(May 2021) – Have you checked your mailbox?

An invitation to participate in the 2021 Census may have be waiting for you right now.

This year’s Census is more important to Jewish Canadians than ever before.

Why? Because the last census seriously under-counted Canada’s Jewish population.

We know the Jewish community did not magically shrink over just a few years. Due to a change in the 2016 form, which omitted ‘Jewish’ as a specific example on their list of ethnicities, many Jewish Canadians inadvertently counted themselves out.

The Census is the backbone of Canadian policy at all levels, informing decisions on healthcare, education, social programs, security, housing, fighting poverty, and combating antisemitism and hatred.

To ensure the perspectives of Jewish Canadians are reflected in public policy, and that we receive our share of programs and services, it is important that the Jewish Canadian community be recognized by the Government of Canada as the thriving, growing, and engaged community that it is. The data are used for years after to decide funding for important programs – availability of kosher food, security funds for our schools and other community buildings– and more.

If you are among the one in four households who receives the long-form census, and if you identify as Jewish, there are a couple of questions to which you should pay special attention.

Question 23 deals with ethnicity and if, like many Canadians, you identify with multiple ethnic roots, you can choose more than one to describe yourself: perhaps ‘Moroccan’ and ‘Jewish,’ or ‘Russian’ and ‘Jewish.’ If it is important to you to be counted as Jewish, then please be sure to enter ‘Jewish’ as at least part of your answer to Question 23.

Question 30 deals with religion. Again, if it is important to you to be counted as Jewish, then you can provide that answer to Question 30. If you feel both questions apply, answer ‘Jewish’ to both. Whatever is true to your identity.

This year’s census is predominantly online, but there are other options. If you can assist friends or family who are not comfortable with technology, or who are not connected online, please reach out to them – and draw their attention to Questions 23 and 30.

More information is available at Statistics Canada’s site,, or at The census is easy to complete – and completely confidential. You count. Make sure you and your loved ones are counted this year.

Judy Zelikovitz is Vice President, University and Local Partner Services, The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA).

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