The national road coverage and related geographic attributes permit the creation of a new basic geographic unit - the block. A block is an area bounded on all sides by roads and/or boundaries of standard geographic areas.
These blocks are used to automatically generate dissemination areas (DAs). The dissemination area is a small, relatively stable geographic unit composed of one or more blocks. DAs cover all the territory of Canada and replace the enumeration areas (which are still used for census collection) as the smallest standard geographic areas for which census characteristic data are disseminated.
Census metropolitan areas (CMAs) and census agglomerations (CAs) are widely used statistical areas composed of groups of adjacent, largely urban municipalities (census subdivisions) that have a high degree of social and economic integration. While CMAs and CAs contain approximately 78% of the population of Canada, they cover only 4% of the land area. The census metropolitan area and census agglomeration influenced zone (MIZ) is a new concept applied to census subdivisions (CSDs) outside CMAs and CAs to further differentiate this vast, largely rural area of Canada. These non-CMA/CA census subdivisions are assigned to four categories according to the degree of influence (strong, moderate, weak and no influence) that CMAs and CAs collectively have on each of them. CSDs with the same degree of influence tend to be clustered into zones around the CMAs and CAs.
The new Statistical Area Classification (SAC) can be applied to census subdivisions (municipalities) for data dissemination purposes. SAC permits census data to be summarized for census metropolitan areas (CMAs), census agglomerations (CAs), census metropolitan area and census agglomeration influenced zones (MIZ), and the three territories. It is expected that the application of this classification to CSD data will reveal previously hidden details and help users to study the diversity of non-CMA/CA areas of Canada.
For the first time, urban areas are defined using population counts and population density data from the current census, instead of from the previous census. The population density data are block-based rather than enumeration-area based as for previous censuses