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Health Statistics & Data

This guide provides resources for finding health statistics and data.

Canadian Health Statistics and Data - General

Many non-governmental organizations collect statistics on particular health conditions (for example, the Canadian Lung Association.) Check relevant association websites for statistics on your topic.

Featured Resource: Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS)

The CCHS is a cross-sectional survey that collects information related to health status, health care utilization and health determinants for the Canadian population. It relies upon a large sample of respondents and is designed to provide reliable estimates at the health region level.

Major forms of Canadian survey data

Where to look for Canadian survey data really depends on what form of the data you need. There are three major forms of survey data:

1. Aggregate Data: 

Aggregate data is statistical summaries of the raw, survey data. Aggregate data is produced to provide access to data that cannot be released as microdata, and to organize statistics into data tables for those who just want some basic facts or numbers resulting from the survey. For Canadian Statistics, you would go to the Statistics Canada website and its CANSIM portal for aggregate Canadian survey data.

2. Master Files

Master files are the opposite to aggregate data. For each survey conducted by an author division, a master file is constructed which contains most of the original information collected during the survey interview with the subject, as well as derived variables added to the dataset afterwards. This is the most detailed data you can get. For Canadian master files, you will have to go through the Research Data Centres or RDCs

3. Public Use Microdata Files (PUMFs)

Before each PUMF is released,Statistics Canada performs modifications to the corresponding master file to ensure that the risk of breaching confidentiality has been removed. Since the results of any analysis performed do not have to be scrutinized before they are released, the file is considered "public." For Canadian PUMFs, the easiest way to access them is through our data repositories, Abacus.

Postal Code Conversion File

You may find that you need to match postal codes with other geographic areas, such as health authority boundaries. The Postal Code Conversion File (PCCF or PCCF+) is a resource you can use for this purpose. To find it, go to Dataverse, then Advanced Search, and search for "Postal Code Conversion File" in the title field. The link below from Queen's has tips on using the PCCF+. 

Special Programs for Graduate Students

The Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI)'s Graduate Student Data Access Program provides qualified students conducting research into health free access to CIHI's data. 

The CRDCN (Canadian Research Data Centre Network) Emerging Scholars Grant is a $1000 award for PhD students who are using a Research Data Centre for their dissertation work. Grants are awarded 3 times per year.

Healthcare Costs: Canada

Freedom of Information / Access to Information

Journalists, researchers and ordinary citizens sometimes file Access to Information requests (in BC and other jurisdictions, called Freedom of Information requests) to gain access to unpublished government records. The resources below have guidance on making these requests.

Please note that FOI / ATIP requests may come with a cost. It is best to be very specific about the records you are requesting, and do a thorough search of existing public information first (see Related Guides for selected sources to search).