New Municipal Census Regulation expected in 2023

The Government of Alberta is currently developing a new Municipal Census Regulation, which is scheduled to be released in time for municipalities to complete the census process in 2023. Municipal Affairs will provide an updated users’ manual to accompany the regulation.

Municipal Affairs informed municipalities about a new population estimation model in March 2020 that was developed by the Office of Statistics and Information within Treasury Board and Finance for use across provincial government ministries. The model estimates populations in census subdivisions and municipalities based on a standard methodology used across Canada that considers provincial administrative data and federal government data sources (i.e., federal census).

The provincial government then repealed the Determination of Population Regulation in August 2020.

The provincial government implemented its new population estimation model in 2021 to streamline decisions and ensure greater consistency throughout Alberta. The Government of Alberta moved away from using municipal census data to this system of provincially developed population estimates.

Municipal Affairs’ decision to exclude municipal census data and rely on a formula that local governments had no hand in developing caused great concern for many ABmunis members. Following an information session delivered by Treasury Board and Finance in June 2021, several municipalities expressed their concerns about the new model to the Minister of Municipal Affairs.

In response to these objections, the ministry reconsidered its decision and proposed a new Municipal Census Regulation at a stakeholder engagement session in May 2022. The topics addressed at this session included:

  • Definitions of “usual residence” and “shadow population”
  • Including shadow population count with municipal census
  • Length of census time period and overlap with federal census years 
  • Audit and inspection of population counts
  • Requirements for submitting census data to the province.

The new Municipal Census Regulation will set out the requirements for completing a census. The regulation requires Cabinet approval before it will come into effect. Census numbers will be considered in determining the populations used for municipal funding allocations. The population estimates model developed by Treasury Board and Finance will be the primary approach used to determine populations for municipalities that do not complete a census.

Until such time as the 2021 federal census results are made available, per capita grant funding from the provincial government will continue to be based on the 2019 Municipal Affairs Population List – with a few exceptions. Click here to read about exceptions noted in December 2021.

Library funding allocations are based on 2016 population numbers until the Municipal Affairs advises otherwise. The updated federal census will provide a new baseline for estimating annual municipal populations in the future.

Municipal population estimates were last posted in January 2022. Click here to see the population data currently provided by the Government of Alberta.

For specific information about the provincial government’s population estimates model, contact Treasury Board and Finance’s Office of Statistics and Information by [at] (email).

For further information about the new Municipal Census Regulation, contact Municipal Affairs by lgs.update [at] (email).