Standard Geographical Classification (SGC)

Detailed definition

The Standard Geographical Classification (SGC) 2011 is Statistics Canada's main classification of geographic areas in Canada. It is designed to classify statistical information by geographic areas. The classification consists of four levels: geographical regions of Canada, provinces and territories, census divisions (such as counties and regional municipalities) and census subdivisions (such as municipalities). The four geographic levels are hierarchically related; a seven-digit code is used to show this relationship.

The 2011 version of the SGC includes three classification variants:

  • Statistical Area Classification – Variant of SGC 2011
    This classifies census subdivisions by census metropolitan areas (CMAs), census agglomerations (CAs) and census metropolitan influenced zones (MIZ) in the areas outside CMAs and CAs.
  • Statistical Area Classification by Province and Territory – Variant of SGC 2011
    This classifies census subdivisions by census metropolitan areas (CMAs), census agglomerations (CAs) and census metropolitan influenced zones (MIZ) in the areas outside CMAs and CAs. In this classification variant, these categories are further classified by provinces and territories.
  • Economic Regions – Variant of SGC 2011
    This classifies census subdivisions into census divisions and economic regions.

Image of Standard Geographical  Classification

Censuses

2011, 2006, 2001, 1996, 1991, 1986, 1981, 1976, 1971, 1966, 1961

Remarks

Census subdivisions (CSDs) aggregate to census divisions (CDs), which aggregate to province or territory which, in turn, aggregate to geographical regions of Canada (Figure 2).

Figure 2
Standard geographical classification (SGC) hierarchy

Figure 2 Standard geographical classification (SGC) hierarchy

Description for Figure 2

Source: Statistics Canada, 2011 Census of Population.

The hierarchical relationship is reflected in the seven-digit SGC code. For example:

Table - Hierarchial relationship example
PR-CD-CSD code Description
12 06 008 Province 12: Nova Scotia
CD 06: Lunenburg
CSD 008: Mahone Bay
35 06 008 Province 35: Ontario
CD 06: Ottawa
CSD 008: Ottawa

Changes to the Standard Geographical Classification for the 2011 Census

This version introduces structural changes to the classification. It introduces a new level to the standard: geographical regions of Canada. The geographical regions of Canada are:

  • Atlantic
  • Quebec
  • Ontario
  • Prairies
  • British Columbia
  • Territories

They represent aggregations of provinces and territories.

The structural change also introduces the new classification variants 'Statistical Area Classification – Variant of SGC 2011' and 'Statistical Area Classification by Province and Territory – Variant of SGC 2011.' These include the census metropolitan areas and census agglomerations and classify the areas of Canada outside CMAs and CAs by census metropolitan influenced zones. Standard terminology has been established for the census metropolitan influenced zones.

The economic regions are now formally recognized as a part of the SGC and are included in the classification variant: 'Economic Regions – Variant of SGC 2011.'

Refer to the related definitions of census division (CD); census metropolitan area (CMA) and census agglomerations (CA); census metropolitan influenced zones (MIZ); census subdivision (CSD); economic region (ER) and province or territory. The Standard Geographical Classification is presented in the 2011 Standard Geographical Classification (SGC), Volumes I and II (Catalogue nos. 12-571-X and 12-572-X).

Changes prior to the current census

In 1976 and 1971, both SGC and census codes were used to disseminate census data.

In 1966 and 1961, only census codes were used to disseminate census data.

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