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Canadian Statistics: How to find them

Ever needed trustworthy statistics to back up your research?  Not surprisingly, Statistics Canada is your “go-to” source for Canadian stats, but you may not be sure where to find what you need.  The major issue for most people is deciding which of the two main databases that UBC Library subscribes to will have the information that is needed.

First, let’s look at the Census of Canada.   It aims to count the nation’s population and collects  some basic information about the inhabitants of each dwelling, such as their relationships to one another, mother tongue, marital status, gender and age. One in five households get a longer form which covers additional topics including income & earnings; immigration status; ethnic origins; and educational attainment.

Key things to know about Census data:

  • The sample is large – either 100% or 20% – so the accuracy of your data is high.
  • The data in the Census is based solely on the questions asked – if the data you need cannot be sourced from the questions on the Census, then this is not the right place to look.
  • The questions on the Census can change over time or be eliminated.  Consult the Census Dictionary for the relevant Census year to see how long the questions have been asked and whether they have changed over time.
  • Click here to see the questions asked on the 2006 Census.
  • Click here to access topic-based data from the 2006 Census

The other major database from Statistics Canada that we subscribe to is called CANSIM – the Canadian Socioeconomic Information Management Database.  It disseminates the statistics gathered by StatsCan which come from all the other surveys conducted by the agency.  You can find some links to some Census data within Cansim, but as a general rule this is where you want to go for topics not covered on the Census.

Key things to know about Cansim:

  • typically, the sample is smaller than what you’ll get from the Census
  • Cansim is available from two different providers: StatsCan itself, via its user-friendly E-Stat database or through the University of Toronto via CHASS.  E-Stat is updated once a year in July, while CHASS is updated weekly.
  • CANSIM topics include Economic Accounts, Crime & Justice, Labour, Manufacturing, Construction, Trade, Agriculture, Finance, Demographics, Health, Transportation, and Education & Training. Selected data on population estimates and vital statistics are also available.

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