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Data and Statistics

Resources for finding and using data and statistics. This guide focuses on data for the social sciences.

Socioeconomic Data

Data Search Page

Statistics Canada socioeconomic data is available through the data search page on the Statistics Canada website. This page lets you use keyword searching and filters to help find the data you're looking for. This page is an updated way to access Statistics Canada data that replaces the CANSIM (Canadian Socioeconomic Information Management) Database. The old CANSIM table numbers can still be used in the keyword search to find specific tables, or their equivalent new content. A table providing concordance between the CANSIM IDs and new table IDs can be found here. CANSIM is still available through the University of Toronto's CHASS (Computing in the Humanities and Social Sciences) interface, which you can access here: CANSIM @ CHASS

  • Keyword search: Enter terms related to the type of data you are looking for. You can also search for specific table numbers and CANSIM table numbers.
  • Filters: Narrow down the results by selecting specific attributes for the data.
  • Data type filtering: Use these tabs to further narrow down the results by displaying only specific types of data.


Data Tables

Each table has information about its data. The table number is shown, as well as the frequency of the data and the geography. Not all Statistics Canada tables can show break downs by province so make sure to check the table's geography limitations.

Tables can be customized using the "Customize table" section and more options are available by clicking on the "Add/Remove data" button. Tabs are available to select additional data to display and to change the table layout. More options can be found by clicking the plus icon  next to a label. Use the check boxes to select the data that will display and then click "Apply" to refresh the table.

  • Footnotes: Clicking these links will open a window with information about the data in the current table. These footnotes can also be found throughout the table to make clarifications about the data.
  • Data Geography: The geography of the table is how detailed the data is. Some tables only provide statistics at a Canada-wide level and others may include statistics for each province or for census geography.
  • Customize the table: Click this button to open more options for customizing the table.


  • Expand choices: View all the data options available to add to the table. Check out the other tabs for more options.
  • Select levels of data: Use the checkbox next to an item to add that item to the table.
  • Apply changes to the table: Make sure to click "Apply" to make your changes visible in the table.


Use the customize layout tab to change what data is displayed as a column or row in the table.


Related Information

Each table has a "Related Information" section at the bottom of the page which provides more information on the data used in the table.

  • Replaces: Any inactive or archived tables that were replaced with the current table.
  • Source: A link to information about the data source used for the current table. Clicking on the source link will provide more information on the background and methodology (target population/universe, sampling, etc.) of the surveys used to gather data, and link to other products that use the same data source.
  • Related products: Links to other Statistics Canada products that are similar and may use the same data that was used for the current table.
  • Subjects and keywords: A list of the subjects and keywords that relate to the current table and that can direct you to related data.


Downloading Data

Download the data table using the "Download Options" button at the top right of the table. There are multiple options for downloading. Choose which version of the data you want to download by clicking on it and save it to your device.


Statistics Canada also has a video about how to use data tables: What's new on our website

Statistics Canada Microdata

Public Use Microdata Files (PUMFs) are one way Statistics Canada provides data from many of its surveys. These files are based on master files and remove any possible identifying information, so some variables may be suppressed due to privacy legislation. PUMFs are non-aggregated and allow researchers to perform their own analysis on survey responses. Many PUMFs are available for free through the Statistics Canada data page, and many can also be found in UBC's data repository, Abacus.

Statistics Canada provides an analytical platform called Rich Data Services (RDS) for exploring PUMFs. The RDS has an Explorer section and a Tabulation Engine that allows users to browse, interact with, and download data and metadata. See the RDS LibGuide for more details on how to use this platform.

Statistics Canada provides data from many of its surveys in Public Use Microdata Files (PUMFs). Some variables are excluded or grouped in PUMFs to protect respondent confidentiality. Researchers who need the complete data may apply for access through the Research Data Centres (RDC) Program. RDCs provide secure access to Statistics Canada data that would not otherwise be available, including microdata Master Files from population and household surveys, administrative data holdings, and linked data. RDC research may be appropriate when:

  • The variables required are not included in the Public Use Microdata File (PUMF)
  • A PUMF for the dataset is not available
  • The analysis requires longitudinal or linked data

For a list of Master Files and variables available through the RDC Program visit the official list of files available.

Note that there is an application approval process which can take some time (weeks or even months) and is generally not available for undergraduate work. All analysis must be done within the secure environment of a Research Data Centre. The UBC RDC is located on the second floor of Koerner Library.

Real Time Remote Access (RTRA) allows researchers to get aggregated data from Statistics Canada's masterfile subsets without requiring direct access to the microdata through a Research Data Centre. This involves running SAS programs that will extract results into a table, allowing users to calculate descriptive statistics at the national or provincial level. Due to concerns around respondent confidentiality, some variables are suppressed in the queried data. Any output produced through RTRA is released under the Statistics Canada Open License.

RTRA may be useful when:

  • There is a need for descriptive statistics or aggregated data
  • There is no published table that already meets the need
  • There is no Public Use Microdata File with the necessary data
  • The aggregated data is needed at the national or provincial level

Requests for RTRA data need to be submitted through the library. Please email the Data/GIS Analyst or Data Librarian for any inquiries about RTRA. Learn more from the Statistics Canada RTRA web page.