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The Canadian census is carried out every five years (you may remember filling it out earlier this year) and, in addition to basic demographic information, covers such areas as housing and employment.

If you’re trying to find census information on a more granular level than simply for the country as a whole, the first thing that you need to determine is what geographic area you are interested in. Do you want to pull statistics for the country as a whole or on a more granular basis?

Statistics Canada divides the country up in a number of different ways including:

  • Provinces or territories (e.g. Alberta). Each province is assigned a two digit code that can be found here.
  • Census divisions (CD) are “intermediate geographic areas between the province/territory level and the municipality” (e.g. Greater Vancouver).
  • Census metropolitan areas (CMA) are “one or more adjacent municipalities [with] a total population of at least 100,000” (e.g. Toronto, Montréal and Vancouver).
  • Census subdivisions (SCD) are municipalities or areas treated as municipal equivalents (e.g. Vancouver, CY). There are 54 different types.
  • Dissemination areas (DA) are geographic units “with an average population of 400 to 700 persons” and are “the smallest standard geographic area for which all census data are disseminated.” Each dissemination area has a four-digit code which is preceded by the two-digit province/territory code and the two-digit census division code to produce a unique identifier (e.g. 12 09 0103).
  • Economic regions (ER) are groupings of “complete census divisions […] created as a standard geographic unit for analysis of regional economic activity.” (e.g. Lower Mainland–Southwest).
  • Federal electoral districts (FED) are areas represented by a member of the House of Commons (e.g. Vancouver Quadra).
  • Health Regions are “are legislated administrative areas defined by provincial ministries of health” with a four digit numeric code being used as a unique identifier, e.g. 5932 for the Vancouver Health Service Delivery Area.

The Census allows you to search by place name, postal code or geographic code. For example a search for “York” would return these results which in turn link to census information for each location.

You can also use Geosearch to narrow down your geographical area, e.g. to drill down to the map forDissemination Area 59153845, but keep in mind that data is not always available for the smaller geographic divisions.

Susannah Tredwell


What does it mean when you table a motion at a meeting?

It depends on where you live.

For those in the non-US parts of the English-speaking world, to table means to submit something formally for discussion or consideration.

The expression comes from act of laying your submission on the table of a legislative assembly or other decision-making body (like a board of directors). This usage goes back at least as far as the 1650s.

The Glossary of Parliamentary Procedure use table as a noun and verb in these senses:

In the USA, however, tabling has, since the mid 1800s, meant postponing or even shelving a matter indefinitely.

Winston Churchill noted the difference in World War II: British officials wanted to table (i.e. raise) something as a matter of urgency; their American counterparts thought they meant ‘putting it away in a drawer and forgetting about it’ (The Second World War (1950)).

In Canada, we see both; but the non-US usage makes more sense when you think of the actual table of the deliberative body.

Neil Guthrie (@guthrieneil)


It’s disheartening to see how frequently people mess up with commas.

This kind of thing is all too common: Partner, Alfredo Garcia will be speaking about …

Remove that comma! And don’t be tempted to leave it but add one after Garcia! Both suggest that there is only one partner (which, as you know, is not possible as a matter of law).

Another version of the same error: My colleagues, Suresh and Amy, will … It’s not an error if these are your only colleagues, which is the implication of those offsetting commas. If you have more than just the two colleagues, no commas. 

A worse blunder was made by former prime minster Stephen Harper, who tweeted this on International Women’s Day in 2019: Special mention to @LaureenHarper, my mother and daughter.

Mr Harper, you really ought to have put a comma after mother in order to make it clear that there are three main women in your life, not just one with multiple roles.

Unless, of course, there is some weirdness going on in your family that we didn’t previously know about.

Neil Guthrie (@guthrieneil)


For legal professionals working with a high volume of cases, it can be difficult to stay up to date with legal research for all of them. However, with the alert feature on Lexbox, it’s easy to keep track of changes to legal information on CanLII that is relevant to your field of work or study.

Lexbox offers three types of alerts:

1. Citation alerts — these allow you to track the impact of a case over time.

2. Amendment alerts — these allow you to monitor the changes in a statute over time.

3. Query alerts — these allow you to stay informed of the latest appearances of a term or topic in CanLII documents

There are two ways you can set up citation and amendment alerts on CanLII with Lexbox:

a) the corresponding buttons in the Lexbox bar located on every search page and case/legislation page or;


b) the alarm clock icon that appears on the bottom right corner of each search result.

You can set query alerts by making a customized search and then clicking the ‘Set up alert feed’ button in the Lexbox bar at the top of the search results page. For more information on making customized searches, see our previous posts on using operators and search filters on CanLII.

Upon clicking any of these alert buttons, a pop-up box will appear where you can:

  • Customize the title of your alert
  • Choose the folder on Lexbox where you want to store the alert
  • Add a contextual note attached to the alert
  • For citation alerts only: Choose the level of a case’s discussion intensity required for Lexbox to send an alert to you. The intensity is measured in jalapeño icons.
  • Choose how you will be notified about the alert (within your Lexbox folder, by a daily email, or by a weekly email)

When you are finished customizing your alert, click ‘Ok.’

You can check your alerts, modify them, or cancel them at any time by visiting your Lexbox account.

Good luck and happy researching!

Alex Tsang (@atsang101)

[This tip first appeared on the CanLII blog and is also available in French]


One resource that users may not be aware is available in Westlaw Canada’s LawSource module is Black’s Law Dictionary, possibly because it is the only “international” piece of content included in the module.

Black’s Law Dictionary is the most widely used law dictionary in the United States and (according to Thomson Reuters’ marketing department) “the most widely cited law book in the world”.

To access this resource, log in to Westlaw Canada, go to the International tab and then click on the link to Black’s Law Dictionary.

Susannah Tredwell


This comes to all of us, whether we want it or not.

Increasingly nowadays, one can make a conscious end-of-life decision: note the hyphens you’ll need in order to make the phrase an adjective.

But what one should never do is make the phrase the horrible verb that I saw in an announcement from a tech provider that is discontinuing a line of software tools:

[Nameless tech vendor] is to end of life [products X, Y and Z] in a move that will see those core legacy products not supported after December 2023.

First, if they are ‘core products’, why are they being discontinued?

Second, note the sneaky use of the passive voice as a way to remove human or institutional agency (and thus responsibility), instead of more honestly saying We will no longer be supporting

And that awful use of end of life as a verb! Not even hyphens can redeem that.

(Thanks to Sandra Geddes for bringing this horror to my attention.)

Neil Guthrie (@guthrieneil)


I fear they do not, as these recent examples of lawyerly prose will suggest:

·         bare with me

·         you have free rain

·         he is a real jem

The clear inference to be drawn from these solecisms is that people hear things but have not seen them in print (or even on a screen).

In a word-based profession, this is distressing (to say the least).

Neil Guthrie (@guthrieneil)


It pains me when I see the University of Oxford making terrible errors. But errors are errors.

Both occurred in recent LinkedIn posts.

The first:

One in four people in the world do not have access to safe drinking water.

That should, of course, be does because the subject of the sentence is One, not four or people. This is a distressingly common error, but not one Oxford should be making.

The second:

Between 2000-2015, 3248 people were infected with plague worldwide.

Rewrite that as either Between 2000 and 2015 … or From 2000 to 2015 …

Two deplorable errors from people who should know better (and, obviously, two deplorable states of affairs in terms of public health).

Neil Guthrie (@guthrieneil)



Some frightful things that have imposed themselves on your humble scribe’s tender eyes.

Actual drafting by a senior partner

What this means is clear enough, but the drafting is simply awful:

Both whether or not the Code applies to the Proposed Structure and how it may apply to it therefore are central to appreciating if the Proposed Structure is a viable paradigm in law.

There are so many ways to improve that by putting it in normal English. How about this:

The Building Code may determine whether the proposed structure is legal.


Almost as bad, but not quite as frequent as reaching out to people, is the request to jump on a call.

Do these verbs make things sound more important than they really are?

Let’s just talk.


A LinkedIn post I came across exhorted readers to productize their law firm’s content.

Please, please, please, no.


Yes, this is the stage name of an American rapper and actor – but a friend received an e-mail from a lawyer (a LAWYER!) who used it, in all seriousness, to mean ridiculous or risible.

The lawyer had clearly never seen ludicrous, the word from which the rapper derives his moniker.

Time to insert an emoji expressing shock, horror, dismay, despair. If there is one that captures all that.

Neil Guthrie (@guthrieneil)


No, not enclosures where odd things happen. Rather, combinations of words that look strange.

The New York Times – generally a newspaper one admires – has taken to writing things like monthslong: see, for example, Mary Hui, ‘After a Dip, Hong Kong Real Estate Again Eyes the Stratosphere’ (22 March 2019).

Compounds often start off as two or more words, become hyphenated and later lose the hyphen (holder of shares, share-holder, shareholder).

This doesn’t always work, however: securityholder looks weird. So does loophole, because it suggests the pronunciation loo-fole. The hyphen keeps a helpful separation between the consonants.

Similarly, monthslong looks unnatural (can you think of any other English word with the sequence NTHSL?) and invites one to say month-slong or the more awkward mon-thslong.

The NYT may do it, but it’s best avoided. Keep the handy hyphen.

Neil Guthrie (@guthrieneil)