Frequently asked questions—Information for survey participants

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General questions

Is this a legitimate survey?

Statistics Canada surveys are conducted in person, by telephone or electronically online. For most surveys, Statistics Canada will first send an invitation letter or email to let you know about the purpose of the survey and to inform you that an interviewer will contact you.

If you have not received such a letter or email, you can verify that the survey is indeed conducted by Statistics Canada by:

  • looking up the name of your survey in the list of surveys in collection
  • verifying that the interviewer carries a photo identification card issued by Statistics Canada
  • contacting Statistics Canada:
    • Toll-free number (general enquiries): 1-877-949-9492
    • National TTY line: 1-800-363-7629*
    • Email:

Don't be surprised if a Statistics Canada interviewer shows up at your door or contacts you by telephone in the evening or on weekends. To accommodate the respondents' busy schedules, Statistics Canada interviewers work at different times of the day, seven days a week and sometimes on holidays. For a telephone survey, you could also be called from different areas of Canada.

How was I selected?

All Canadian households receive a Census of Population questionnaire.

Any of the persons responsible for an agricultural operation that produces at least one product intended for sale must complete a Census of Agriculture questionnaire.

The majority of Statistics Canada surveys are sample surveys. Participants for a sample survey are selected randomly to avoid bias. Once you have been selected for a survey sample, Statistics Canada cannot replace you with anyone else because the sample would no longer be random.

I have participated in a Statistics Canada survey already. Why did you select me for another one?

This can happen because survey participants are randomly selected. Sometimes, the characteristics we seek from one survey to another can overlap.

In some instances, some participants in one survey may be contacted again for a related survey. This practice helps to reduce the time and costs it would take to conduct a new survey each time.

How are businesses or agricultural operations selected for a survey?

The majority of Statistics Canada business or agricultural surveys are sample surveys. This means that only a certain number of businesses or agricultural operations in a particular industry in each province and territory are selected to complete the survey questionnaire. Together, the sampled businesses or agricultural operations represent all the businesses or agricultural operations in the industry in question. Most businesses or agricultural operations in a sample are randomly selected to represent other businesses or agricultural operations with similar characteristics, such as revenue or number of employees. Some businesses or agricultural operations must be included in the sample because they contribute significantly to their particular industry or region.

A small number of our business and agricultural surveys are census surveys, which include all businesses or agricultural operations of significant size in a particular industry. A census is used when the industry in question comprises only a small number of businesses or agricultural operations or businesses or agricultural operations that are very different from one another. In such cases, a sample would not accurately reflect the entire industry in question.

Do I have to participate?

Participation in the Census of Population and the Census of Agriculture is mandatory pursuant to the Statistics Act. All Canadian households must complete a Census of Population questionnaire. All farm operators are required to complete a Census of Agriculture questionnaire.

If Statistics Canada contacts you for the Labour Force Survey, a business survey or an agricultural survey, you are also obligated to participate pursuant to the Statistics Act.

For other Statistics Canada surveys, participation is voluntary.

Your participation is important

To ensure the most complete results, it is very important that the people, households, businesses and agricultural operations selected answer the survey questions. Without your co-operation, Statistics Canada could not produce reliable, essential data.

The information gathered in our surveys has a direct impact on Canadians' lives. Moreover, all of your responses are equally important. For example, to produce objective, accurate information about Internet use in Canada, responses from people who don't use the Internet are just as important as responses from people who do.

Why are businesses and agricultural operations required by law to respond?

Canadians need accurate and reliable information—the cornerstone for democratic decision making. Through the Statistic Act, Parliament has mandated Statistics Canada, as the national statistical agency, to produce such information.

Business and agricultural surveys collect important economic information that is used by businesses, unions, non-profit organizations and all levels of government to make informed decisions in many areas.

Because most business and agricultural surveys feed directly or indirectly into legally mandated programs, mandatory participation is required to ensure an adequate response rate as well as reliable results.

How will Statistics Canada contact me?

Statistics Canada may contact you in a variety of ways using both official languages. Our interviewers work days, evenings, weekends and even some holidays to accommodate respondents' busy schedules. We communicate with respondents by:

  • Mailing letters
  • Calling landline or cell phone numbers
  • Sending emails
  • Sending text messages
    • The Statistics Canada short code used for all our text messages is 782-782. If you receive a text message from a different number claiming to be Statistics Canada, it is not authentic. Additionally, all text messages from Statistics Canada are sent in both English and French.
  • Visiting their place of residence in-person
    • If an interviewer visits your place of residence and you are not available, they may also leave a note or letter to inform you of their visit.
  • Sending notifications from official Statistics Canada mobile applications
    • These notifications will only be sent to users who have downloaded the mobile application and enabled notifications.

The health and safety of all is paramount

All Statistics Canada interviewers wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). They protect themselves and others by:

  • Wearing a three-layer mask and using hand sanitizer whenever required
  • Maintaining a two-metre (six feet) physical distance from others, whenever possible
  • Clearly displaying their Statistics Canada photo identification card at all times.
How can I confirm an interviewer's identity, or confirm the legitimacy of a phone call, SMS message or email I received?

All interviewers carry photo identification issued by Statistics Canada. To verify an interviewer's identity, or confirm the legitimacy of a phone call, SMS message or email, you can contact Statistics Canada by calling one of the telephone numbers below.

General inquiries

  • 1-877-949-9492
  • TTY line: 1-800-363-7629

Survey participation inquiries

  • 1-833-977-8287
  • TTY line: 1-866-753-7083

If you have been selected to participate in a survey, Statistics Canada will typically call you from 1-833-977-8287, SMS messages will be sent from 782-782, and emails will be sent from or email domains.

Please note that the phone number may appear on your call display as originating from the U.S.A. This situation is beyond our control and is linked to a North American agreement on telephony and trunking of calls. If you have any doubts about the legitimacy of the survey or the interviewer, we encourage you to contact us to verify.

How is my privacy and personal information protected?

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

Statistics Canada also cares about the privacy of its respondents. If a respondent knows the interviewer and is uneasy about giving personal information to that person, he or she can be interviewed by another Statistics Canada employee.

Your answers are confidential

The Statistics Act protects respondents' information. Statistics Canada does not release any information that could identify individuals, households, businesses or agricultural operations without their consent, or as authorized by the Statistics Act. We carefully screen final results before releasing them to prevent published statistics from being used to derive information.

The Statistics Act contains very strict confidentiality provisions that protect collected information from unauthorized access. For example, agencies such as the Canada Revenue Agency, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and the courts do not have access to individual survey responses.

All Statistics Canada employees take an oath of secrecy and face severe penalties for any breach of confidentiality.

Access is strictly controlled

All Statistics Canada employees are responsible for ensuring the security of confidential information. Only employees who need to view confidential files as part of their duties are authorized to access them. A network of physical security systems and procedures protects confidential information against unauthorized access.

Confidential data are stored and processed on an internal network that is segregated to prevent access by outside "hackers."

Why do some calls from Statistics Canada not display as such on my phone?

Because Statistics Canada engages with multiple telephone service providers across the country, the call display option is not always available, and calls from interviewers or call centres may appear as "unknown". The phone number of a Statistics Canada interviewer may also appear on your call display as originating from the U.S.A. This situation is beyond our control and is linked to a North American agreement on telephony and trunking of calls.

Additionally, more than one interviewer may be attempting to contact you from a cell phone, in which case you may notice several names and numbers on your call display.

For these reasons, it is not possible for all of our calls to display as coming from Statistics Canada or the Government of Canada.

If you have any doubts about the legitimacy of the survey or the interviewer, we encourage you to contact us to verify the interviewer's identity.

How can I access published results from Statistics Canada?

You will find results under "Published data" on the main page of every survey in collection.

  • The Daily: The Daily is Statistics Canada's official release vehicle. It contains the results of Statistics Canada's surveys every working day. It is also archived to permit a search for information from past releases.

In addition to The Daily, the Statistics Canada website offers a wealth of information:

  • Census: This module provides a statistical portrait of Canada and its people. You will also find the most recent data from the 2021 Census.
  • My StatCan: My StatCan is a customizable one-stop portal that allows you to bookmark and quickly access your favourite articles, reports, data tables, indicators, and more; receive email notifications on our latest data releases.

For more information about publications and products:

  • Toll-free number (Canada and the United States): 1-800-263-1136
  • National TTY line: 1-800-363-7629
  • Fax: 1-514-283-9350
  • E-mail:
Is Statistics Canada exempt from the Do Not Call List?

Statistics Canada wishes to notify clients and survey respondents that it is among those organizations that are exempt from the National Do Not Call List (DNCL).

The National DNCL was launched by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to limit telemarketing calls.

As a result, individuals who register their telephone numbers with the National DNCL will continue to receive calls from Statistics Canada if they are part of a survey.

Statistics Canada is mandated by the Statistics Act to conduct surveys to provide Canadians with accurate information on our society, economy and people.

Canada owes the success of its statistical system to a long-standing partnership between the national statistical agency and the citizens of Canada, its businesses, governments and other institutions. Accurate and timely statistical information could not be produced without this continued cooperation and goodwill.

For more information, contact our agents at 1-800-263-1136 or

Do Statistics Canada's online questionnaires support in-browser automatic translation?

All of our surveys are available in both English and French. We encourage respondents to use the language button built into our questionnaires to switch between English and French, rather than using their browser's translation function. Unfortunately, when the browser translates our questionnaires, it can translate the information incorrectly.

Why do the question numbers in survey questionnaires not always appear in numerical order?

Survey questionnaires can use two different question numbering formats. They either can be numbered in numerical order from the first question to the last question, or each section within the questionnaire can restart at question 1. The second format can result in multiple instances of the same question number within the survey questionnaire.

Based on responses provided throughout the questionnaire, some questions and their corresponding numbers may be skipped.

Specific questions on business surveys

Information on business surveys

Brochure: Statistics Canada Business Surveys—Your time well invested

How does Statistics Canada make it easier for businesses to respond?

Statistics Canada tries to balance the burden its surveys place on business respondents with the need for quality industry statistics and economic indicators.

Using other data sources in surveys

Statistics Canada has greatly reduced the response burden by using administrative data that businesses and farms have already filed with government, such as tax returns and employee payroll records.

Fewer and faster monthly surveys

Monthly surveys provide timely data for monitoring trends in prices, trade, manufacturing and employment. Statistics Canada strives to make them easy to complete and to keep them as short as possible. In recent years, Statistics Canada has substantially reduced the size of samples for monthly surveys by using administrative data.

Electronic reporting

Statistics Canada offers the option of reporting through the Internet for many surveys. Electronic reporting allows businesses to extract information directly from their data systems or to complete an online questionnaire and transmit it to Statistics Canada. With this option, strict safeguards to secure the confidentiality of data are provided.

Customized reporting arrangements

Large businesses with multiple operations in different industries and provinces have the option of special, customized reporting arrangements for the Integrated Business Statistics Program. For example, such a business can receive all questionnaires covering its branch locations at its head office. It can also choose to receive, for each province and industry in which it operates, a combined questionnaire covering all its branches in that province or industry.

What is the Integrated Business Statistics Program?

The Integrated Business Statistics Program (IBSP) is a multi-year initiative conducted by Statistics Canada to ensure continued data coherence and quality across its economic statistics program, and produce a consistent picture of the Canadian economy. This initiative incorporates business surveys into a single framework, using questionnaires and reporting guides with a consistent look, structure and content.

The standard IBSP questionnaires collect consistent data from businesses in different industries. The combined results produce more coherent and accurate statistics on the economy, particularly at the provincial/territorial and industry levels.

The integrated approach makes reporting easier for firms operating in different industries because they can provide similar information for each branch operation. This way they avoid having to respond to questionnaires that differ for each industry in terms of format, wording and even concepts.

Why doesn't Statistics Canada get all business financial information from the Canada Revenue Agency?

Whenever possible, Statistics Canada does use administrative data already filed with government, such as annual tax returns.

However, those records do not contain all the information required to make an accurate profile of the industry. This is especially true for large firms operating in diverse industries and in more than one province.

Statistics Canada does not share any individual survey responses with the Canada Revenue Agency.

Will the information from businesses be shared?

The Statistics Act prohibits Statistics Canada from releasing any information that identifies or could be used to identify an individual, household, business or agricultural operation. However, the joint collection and sharing of survey information with third parties is allowed under certain conditions specified in the Statistics Act.

Data sharing agreements

To avoid duplicating surveys, Statistics Canada sometimes enters into joint collection and sharing agreements with federal or provincial government departments, and with other organizations. This reduces the overall paperwork imposed on businesses.

Whenever this is done, Statistics Canada must inform respondents, at the time of collection, if a data sharing agreement applies to the information they provide and with which organization their information will be shared. Statistics Canada must also tell respondents about any right that they may have under the Statistics Act to refuse to share their information.

Record linkage

To enhance the data and to minimize reporting burden, Statistics Canada may combine information collected from a survey with information from other surveys or administrative sources.

Confidentiality waivers

Statistics Canada is allowed to disclose identifiable information when the respondent has given written consent to release it, thus waiving their right to the confidentiality protection provided by the Statistics Act. The Act also allows the Chief Statistician to authorize the disclosure of certain data, related to companies and organizations—without the consent of the respondent—in specific and limited situations.

Information collected under the Corporations Returns Act

In addition to its primary mandate under the Statistics Act, Statistics Canada is also responsible for administering the Corporations Returns Act. This legislation was enacted to monitor the extent of foreign ownership of Canadian corporations.

Surveys conducted under the Corporations Returns Act are the only ones in which Statistics Canada is authorized to release certain non-financial information on specific corporations. This information relates to the corporation's ownership, province of head office, country of control and industrial classification.

The Canada Revenue Agency does not have access to individual responses

The Statistics Act allows Statistics Canada access to administrative records from the Canada Revenue Agency to reduce the paperwork imposed on businesses by government. However, the reverse is not true; the Canada Revenue Agency does not have access to individual records from Statistics Canada nor is it party to any data sharing agreements with Statistics Canada.

Who uses business survey results?

The business sector benefits directly from the information businesses provide Statistics Canada. Survey responses are used to compile complete and accurate statistics on many industries and commodities.

Businesses use industry statistics to:

  • track their performance against industry averages;
  • prepare business plans for investors;
  • adjust inflation-indexed contracts;
  • plan marketing strategies and evaluate expansion plans.

Industry associations, business analysts and investors use the data to:

  • establish benchmarks to analyze the economic performance of various industries;
  • understand evolving business environments, such as global communications networks, free trade and new technologies.

Governments use the data when making decisions about:

  • infrastructure investments to promote domestic and international competitiveness;
  • fiscal, monetary and foreign exchange policies;
  • programs and policies to assist businesses;
  • federal–provincial fiscal transfers and equalization payments.
Ombudsman for business survey respondents

Statistics Canada is continually working at reducing respondent burden and an ombudsman is available to assist business survey participants specifically.

The ombudsman investigates complaints from business survey respondents who believe they are unduly burdened or have been treated unprofessionally by Statistics Canada. The ombudsman's services are impartial and free of charge.

Response burden reduction efforts

Statistics Canada has a long history of working to manage and reduce burden for its respondents, because their contribution is essential and greatly appreciated. Respondents' continued co-operation enables it to turn survey results into reliable information. This information enables decision-makers to work with more clarity, which, in turn, helps to provide better service to all Canadians.

Statistics Canada is taking action to make it easier for businesses to respond

Statistics Canada aims to reduce the time businesses spend responding to surveys, either by:

  • reducing the number of surveys or questions;
  • limiting the time that a business can be part of a sample;
  • using more friendly data collection methods.
Reduce redundancy of data requests across government departments

Statistics Canada aims to reduce redundancy in its data requests across different federal departments or agencies, by:

  • collaborating with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) to further substitute survey data with tax data based on information provided by businesses;
  • assessing the feasibility of substituting survey data with data from other sources;
  • working with other government organizations to seek opportunities to substitute surveys with administrative or alternative types of data such as remote sensing, traceability;
  • collaborating with other federal government departments to align and coordinate information needs.
Survey relief for small businesses

Statistics Canada's Accumulated Response Burden Initiative (ARBI) was launched on January 1, 2015 to reduce the reporting burden placed on small businesses with a good reporting history.

The program provides one year reporting relief of all surveys when some pre-established thresholds of response burden have been exceeded. The program fits with Statistics Canada's overall strategy, all with minimal impact on the quality of the statistical outputs, to:

  • minimize the number of questionnaires sent to small businesses
  • limit the periods in which a small business must remain in the survey sample.
Communications with respondents

To reduce business frustration and provide stakeholders with pertinent information, Statistics Canada reviews and updates its communication tools to:

  • convey the relevance and usefulness of business surveys to participants;
  • increase respondents' understanding of the links between the information collected and its benefits and uses;
  • enhance its website and improve the visibility and content of information tailored to inform survey participants;
  • increase public awareness of current initiatives to reduce respondent burden.

Specific questions on household surveys

Information on household surveys

Will the information provided by respondents be shared?

Statistics Canada is committed to respecting the privacy of individuals. The Statistics Act prohibits Statistics Canada from releasing any information that identifies or could be used to identify an individual. However, the joint collection and sharing of survey information with third parties is allowed under certain conditions specified in the Statistics Act.

Data sharing agreements

To avoid duplicating surveys, Statistics Canada sometimes enters into joint collection and sharing agreements with federal or provincial government departments, and with other organizations. An individual's survey responses will be shared only with their consent.

Record linkages

Linkage of survey data and administrative data is a key element in reducing respondent burden and increasing data quality and consistency in household surveys. Statistics Canada informs respondents of the linkage of their survey responses to other surveys or administrative data. Respondents will also be notified of the possibility of potential linkage of their responses with other data. In addition, Statistics Canada practices a well-defined review and approval process for all record linkages.

Confidentiality waivers

Statistics Canada is allowed to disclose identifiable information when the respondent has given written consent to release it, thus waiving their right to the confidentiality protection provided by the Statistics Act.

Who uses household survey results?

The data collected by Statistics Canada is used by a number of people such as:

  • various levels of government including federal, provincial, territorial, and municipal
  • community organizations, educators and researchers
  • city planners and policy makers.

Concepts for household surveys

What is the difference between a dwelling, a family and a household?

A dwelling is any set of living quarters that is structurally separate and has a private entrance outside the building, or from a common hall or stairway inside the building.

A family is a group of two or more persons who live in the same dwelling and who are related by blood, marriage (including common-law) or adoption. A person living alone or who is related to no one else in the dwelling where he or she lives is classified as an unattached individual.

A household is any person or group of persons living in a dwelling. A household may consist of any combination of: one person living alone, one or more families living together, or a group of people who are not related, but who share the same dwelling.

Why does Statistics Canada collect information about gender and sex?

Many of Statistics Canada's social surveys ask respondents to identify their sex, which refers to sex assigned at birth. Statistics Canada has started to modify survey procedures to collect data on gender – either instead of, or in addition to, data on sex assigned at birth.

The concept of sex refers to biological attributes, while gender is a socially constructed concept. Sex and gender are distinct concepts, but can be interrelated.

Being respectful that there are different ways for people to describe themselves, Statistics Canada is working towards an appropriate way of asking gender and sex questions on surveys, while still collecting meaningful data that has comparability to historical data. We are also addressing concerns related to the use of gendered pronouns during survey interviews.

All new surveys developed by Statistics Canada will collect data on gender and/or sex. Existing surveys will be updated gradually. Final implementation dates have not yet been determined.

Phone numbers and email addresses used by Statistics Canada

How does Statistics Canada obtain phone numbers and email addresses?

To ensure that survey samples are representative of the Canadian population, Statistics Canada accesses information from a variety of administrative files, which include:

  • telephone and cellphone number lists
  • address lists and email information from census records
  • information from other government departments, municipal offices, corporations, businesses or organizations where we have agreements and legal authority to access administrative files

The lists that are used contain landline numbers, cellphone numbers, addresses or email information only.

From these lists, Statistics Canada randomly selects samples that are representative of the Canadian population.

Why is Statistics Canada asking questions about phone numbers and email addresses used at home?

We are asking these questions to correctly match all phone numbers and email addresses to their respective households and, in doing so, to avoid selecting a household more than once for the same survey. Since each household selected represents a number of households with similar characteristics, when we make sure that we match the right phone number and/or email address to the right household, we can assign a more precise weight to each household; that is, the number of households it represents. This step is essential to producing good quality data for the entire population.

Why is Statistics Canada using cellphone numbers and email addresses?

Cellphones have become increasingly prevalent and the use of landlines has declined. Email addresses are considered another modern way of contacting respondents in a digital age.

Statistics Canada has started to acquire and use cellphone numbers and email addresses, under the authority of the Statistics Act, to lower collection costs and ensure representativeness of all Canadian households, including those using only cellphones or other communication services.

Aren't phone numbers and email addresses considered private information?

Statistics Canada fully understands that some Canadians may be concerned if they are contacted on their phone or emailed by parties unknown to them personally.

Statistics Canada treats all the phone and email contact information it acquires under the authority of the Statistics Act as confidential.

Information collected under the act is used only to support mandated programs of Statistics Canada. The information is not used for any other purpose, nor distributed to other parties, even within the Government of Canada.

What if I have registered my phone number on the National Do Not Call List?

This list was launched to limit telemarketing calls. It doesn't apply to Statistics Canada.

Statistics Canada is not a telemarketing agency. We are mandated by the Statistics Act to conduct surveys to provide Canadians with accurate information on our society, economy and people.

As a result, individuals who register their phone numbers with the National Do Not Call List will continue to receive calls and/or texts from Statistics Canada if they are part of a survey.

How is my phone number or email address used?

The lists we use contain landline phone numbers, cellphone numbers, addresses or email information only.

This information is used to support survey collection.

Phone, address or email information acquired by Statistics Canada is never provided to any other agency or person, even within the Government of Canada.

How long is my phone number or email address kept?

Statistics Canada continually acquires phone numbers and email addresses and updates the database in order to increase the efficiency of its survey programs.

There is no need to retain information for phone numbers or email addresses that no longer exist, or that are no longer linked to a specific residential address.

How likely is it that Statistics Canada will call, text or email me?

Each year, only a small percentage of dwellings are selected for participation in Statistics Canada's household surveys.

Most of the time, Statistics Canada contacts people (or households) by mail, email, phone, or in person.

What are Statistics Canada's calling hours?

Calling days and hours vary by regional office and by type of survey. In general, calling hours are from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., Monday to Friday; hours are reduced on Saturday and Sunday.

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