Canadian Wastewater Survey (CWS)

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The purpose of this program is to detect and track the presence of various substances or organisms in wastewater samples collected from wastewater treatment plants in Canada. The data generated by the survey will allow for the early detection of substances or organisms that are of public health concern within a community (e.g. drugs, infectious diseases). The data will also allow for the assessment of trends over time and in relation to various population health characteristics.

There are two components to the survey: a drug component and a SARS-CoV-2 component.

Your information may also be used by Statistics Canada for other statistical and research purposes. In addition, information from partially completed or unsaved questionnaires may be retained and used.

Collection period:
April 1, 2021 to March 31, 2022
Collection methods:
Electronic questionnaire (PDF and Excel)
Survey participation:


Although voluntary, your participation is important so that the information collected is as accurate and complete as possible.

  • Block Information Confidentiality


    Data are collected under the authority of the Statistics Act, Revised Statutes of Canada, 1985, Chapter S-19.

    By law, Statistics Canada is prohibited from releasing any information it collects that could identify any person, business, or organization, unless consent has been given by the respondent, or as permitted by the Statistics Act. Statistics Canada will use the information from this survey for statistical purposes only.

    The SARS-CoV-2 component of the survey is also being collected under the authority of the Department of Health Act and the Public Health Agency of Canada Act.

  • Block Information on Data sharing agreements and record linkage

    Data sharing agreements and record linkage

    Data sharing agreements

    To reduce respondent burden and avoid duplicating surveys, Statistics Canada has entered into a data sharing agreement with the Public Health Agency of Canada for the SARS-CoV-2 component of the survey. By participating in the SARS-CoV-2 component, you are agreeing to share the wastewater samples and related information with Statistics Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada, for use in accordance with their respective legislation and mandate, as set out above.

    The Public Health Agency of Canada may make the data, including identifiable information, available to third parties such as other government departments or local health authorities.

    Record linkage

    To enhance the data from this survey and reduce response burden, Statistics Canada may combine the information you provide with data from other surveys or administrative sources.

    For the SARS-CoV-2 component of the survey, Public Health Agency of Canada may combine the information you provide with other surveys or administrative data sources.

  • Block Information on Topics covered in the survey

    Topics covered in the survey

    The survey asks questions about

    • drugs
    • SARS-CoV-2 virus.
  • Block Information on Published data

    Published data

    To see results from the Canadian Wastewater Survey (CWS), please click on the following link:

  • Block Information on Survey-specific questions

    Survey-specific questions

    What is the Canadian Wastewater Survey?

    The Canadian Wastewater Survey, which is funded by the RCMP, Health Canada, and the Public Health Agency of Canada, provides estimates of drug consumption and levels of SARS-CoV-2 virus in five municipalities across Canada. These estimates serve as important indicators of drug or SARS-CoV-2 virus burden, and are used by all levels of government in establishing informed policies and epidemiological models in the health domain.

    The survey results will be used by the RCMP and Health Canada to track drug consumption habits and by the Public Health Agency of Canada to develop new methods to measure SARS-CoV-2, to track variants of concern (VoCs), and to build epidemiological models. Municipal public health authorities may also use the SARS-CoV-2 data to track the pandemic and inform public health decision making. Within Statistics Canada, the data will be used to validate self-response survey data, and included in reports such as Analysis in Brief or Stats in brief.

    Who is surveyed?

    Wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) operators in five municipalities (representing 15 WWTPs) across Canada.

    When will the results be available?

    Partial results from the first six months of 2019 and 2020 will be available in spring 2021. The remaining results from 2019 and 2020 will be available in fall 2021. An availability notice will be published in The Daily, Statistics Canada’s official release bulletin.

    Consult Published data for more data and analysis from this survey.

    Where can I get more information about the survey?

    If you need more information or require assistance in the completion of the questionnaire, call our toll-free telephone line at 1-877-949-9492.

  • For more information about this survey: Definitions, data sources and methods used
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