Dictionary, Census of Population, 2016
First official language spoken

Release date: May 3, 2017 Updated on: August 2, 2017


'First official language spoken' is specified within the framework of the Official Languages Act. It refers to the first official language (i.e., English or French) spoken by the person.

Statistical unit(s)



First Official Language Spoken

Reported in

2016 and 2011 (100% data); 2006, 2001, 1996, 1991 and 1986 (20% sample).

Reported for

Total population

Question number(s)

Derived variable: Questions 7, 8 a) and 9


Not applicable


The derivation method for this variable is specified within the Official Languages (Communications with and Services to the Public) Regulations, registered on December 16, 1991, in accordance with section 85 of the Official Languages Act, R.S.C., c. 32 (4th Suppl.).

The method used to derive the first official language spoken variable takes into account, first, the knowledge of official languages, second, the mother tongue, and third, the home language. A complete description of this method is available on the Definitions, data sources and methods page for the language variables on Statistics Canada's website.

For more information on language variables, including information on their classifications, the questions from which they are derived, data quality and their comparability with other sources of data, please refer to the Languages Reference Guide, Census of Population, 2016.

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