Social Data Linkage Environment (SDLE)

Social Data Linkage Environment (SDLE) information


Overview of the Social Data Linkage Environment (SDLE)

Derived Record Depository (DRD) linkage status

List of files linked in the Social Data Linkage Environment (SDLE)

Getting started

What to consider before starting a record linkage project at Statistics Canada

Record Linkage Application Process

Record linkage application process: steps to follow

Expanding data potential

The Social Data Linkage Environment (SDLE) at Statistics Canada promotes the innovative use of existing administrative and survey data to address important research questions and inform socio-economic policy through record linkage.

The SDLE expands the potential of data integration across multiple domains, such as health, justice, education and income, through the creation of linked analytical data files without the need to collect additional data from Canadians.

Protecting personal information

Statistics Canada takes your confidentiality very seriously. Under the Statistics Act, all information provided to Statistics Canada is kept confidential, and used only for statistical purposes.

Statistics Canada ensures the privacy and confidentiality and data security of all our programs. In addition to consulting with the Office of the Privacy Commissioner, Statistics Canada conducted a privacy impact assessment to address any potential issues relating to confidentiality or security with the work being undertaken through the SDLE.

Frequently asked questions

What are the benefits of using SDLE?

The SDLE environment offers a highly secure data infrastructure for record linkage activities. It increases efficiency through the use of a processing system, thus offering more timely results and lower costs. SDLE enables linkage across multiple data sets in the social domain which fills important data gaps and can contribute to new research and a better understanding of Canadian society. SDLE also aims to standardize processes, improve methods and enhance data quality.

What services are available?

Our services and supports include: assessing the feasibility of record linkage projects, offering advice on data sources, liaising with subject-matter experts, assisting with approval steps, conducting the record linkage, building custom linked analysis files according to client specifications, advising on analytical limitations and validation, and providing training and outreach.

What kind of linkages can be done in SDLE?

Any linkage of persons can be done in SDLE.

How does SDLE maintain privacy and confidentiality?

Linked analysis files are deemed sensitive statistical information and subject to the confidentiality requirements of the Statistics Act. To reduce the risk of privacy intrusiveness and to minimize the risk of disclosure, source files in SDLE are separated into source index files and source data files. As well, the record linkage production environment that uses the source index files is separated from the data integration and analysis environment that uses the source data files. That is, Statistics Canada employees performing the record linkages in SDLE have access to only the basic personal identifiers needed for linkage. Employees who build the analytical files for research have access only to the data stripped of personal identifiers. Anonymous keys are used to integrate the data from the various sources into a linked analysis data file. Further, only Statistics Canada employees who have an approved need to access the data for their analytical work are allowed access to the linked analysis file. The privacy impact assessment conducted by Statistics Canada found these processes acceptable to reduce the risk of privacy intrusiveness and to minimize the risk of disclosure.

Is there a cost to use SDLE services?

Statistics Canada makes custom services, such as the SDLE, available to Canadian organizations on a cost-recovery basis. Cost-recovery means that clients pay for the direct and indirect cost of doing the work. Custom services are not funded by the budget that Parliament allocates to Statistics Canada. Costs vary depending on the complexity and the requirements of the proposal.

How much does it cost?

The SDLE is a cost-recovery program. Every project is unique and a range of outputs are available. Costs reflect the requirements of each client and range depending on the complexity of the proposal.

How can I get more information on SDLE?

For more information, email us at

More information

If you have questions or a potential project for SDLE, please contact us by email at

External researchers can access linked analysis files in Statistics Canada's Research Data Centres (RDC). To learn more about the RDC program, please refer to the Research Data Centres program or send an email to

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