How To Use Statistics Canada Child and Family Health Data

Statistics Canada (StatCan) brings together data collected from surveys, administrative datasets, and integrated datasets that can be analyzed to improve our understanding of health behaviours, social determinants, equity and related outcomes.

On this page, you will find information to answer the following questions:

  1. What Kind of Data Is Collected by Statistics Canada?
  2. How To Access Data from the Research Data Centres?
  3. How To Create Linked Population Health Datasets?

1. What Kind of Data Is Collected by Statistics Canada?

Survey Data

This cross-sectional data is commonly used to explore the following topics:

  • Issues that impact the mental and physical health of children and youth (e.g., physical activity, time spent in school and extracurricular activities, use of devices, sedentary behaviour)
  • Health surveillance and population health research
  • Information about health and health habits, collected through surveys, household interviews, anthropometric measures, laboratory/clinical data

Examples of surveys include:

  • Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS)
  • Canadian Health Survey on Children and Youth (CHSCY)
  • Canadian Health Measures Survey (CHMS)

Administrative Data

Important for producing demographic and health indicators, including life expectancy, mortality, leading cause of death, cancer survival, fertility, heath service use (admissions, discharges). It includes details about families (size, composition, income estimates through tax files) and characteristics of immigrants upon arriving in Canada, as well as long-term economic outcomes and mobility.

Examples of administrative data sources include:

  • Canadian Vital Statistics (births and deaths)
  • Canadian Cancer Registry (CCR)
  • Hospital records: Discharge Abstract Database, Ontario
  • Mental Health Reporting System, National Ambulatory
  • Care Reporting System
  • T1 Family Files (tax records of spouses, common-law partners, and their dependents)
  • Longitudinal Immigration Database (IMDb)

Integrated Data

Comprises multiple data sources, which together provide information on social determinants of health using survey and administrative data. These include individual record linkage and area level.

Examples of integrated data include:

  • Canadian Census Health and Environment Cohorts - CanCHEC (long form census linked with administrative health data)
  • Surveys linked to health administrative and census data (CCHS linked with vital statistics, hospitalization data, tax data, census short form, disease registries, etc.)
  • Mother-centric linkages (e.g., Canadian Birth Census Cohorts – CanBCC). These include linked cohorts of mothers and babies from birth and stillbirth registries and those that use data from census, immigration records, tax files and hospital records.

2. How To Access Data from the Research Data Centres?

About the Research Data Centres

For a complete list of the Canadian Academic Centres that host Research Data Centres, organized by province, please visit the Research Data Centres User Community website.  Here you can also find information on available data and application processes.

Approved Microdata Linkages

The linking of separate records from different sources can be a very useful and cost-efficient technique in the design, production, analysis and evaluation of statistical data. It can lead to important savings in cost, time, and respondent burden, and, in some cases, it may be the only feasible way to obtain important statistical information. When possible, rather than conducting additional surveys, Statistics Canada uses the information that individuals, businesses and institutions have already provided to the Agency or to other government departments for methodological purposes, data enhancement and subject-matter studies.

A list of the microdata linkage submissions that have been reviewed and approved in accordance with the Statistics Canada Directive on Microdata Linkage, starting in January 2000 can be accessed from the StatCan Approved Data Linkages website.

Children/Youth Surveys & Statistical Programs

To search a complete list of surveys and statistical programs (both active and discontinued) by subject area, please visit the Statistics Canada Child and Youth website. Each survey and program provides a link for further information, such as: frequency, description, data sources and methodology.

Subject areas include childcare arrangements, crime, education, health, immigration, labour, low income, risk behaviours and violence.

3. How To Create Linked Population Health Datasets?

What is the Social Data Linkage Environment (SDLE)?

The Social Data Linkage Environment (SDLE) is a safe, secure platform which facilitates the creation of linked population health datasets for social analysis across multiple domains (i.e., health, justice, education), by creating linked analytical data files. 

Note: the SDLE is not a large integrated database of survey information.

For more information about the SDLE, please visit the StatCan SDLE information website

    What is the Derived Record Depository (DRD)?

    At the core of the SDLE is the Derived Record Depository (DRD), which is a relational database. It includes only basic direct personal identifiers, created by linking source index files.

    The following are important aspects to understand when using the DRD:

    • Includes surnames, given names, date of birth, sex, insurance numbers, parents' names, marital status, addresses (including postal codes), telephone numbers, immigration date, emigration date and date of death. 
    • Uses both deterministic and probabilistic linkage methods.
    • The source data files are from: T1 Personal Master Tax File; CCB tax file; Canadian births database; Canadian Mortality Database; Landed Immigrant File and Temporary Residents; and Health administrative datasets already linked to DRD (DAD, NACRS, OMHRS, CCR, etc.)

    What Data Linkage Project Support is Available?

    The SDLE Team at Statistics Canada offers the following support:

    • Feasibility assessment of proposed record linkage projects
    • Advise on data sources
    • Liaise with subject matter experts
    • Conduct record linkage and build custom analysis files
    • Advise on analytical limitations and overall validity

    How to Initiate a Data Linkage Project? 

    Interested applicants must complete an SDLE proposal form to have the feasibility of their request assessed, and to obtain a timeline and cost estimate to conduct the record linkage.

    Objectives must be included, in addition to details regarding anticipated public benefit.

    Project proposal must be e-mailed to: