Survey of Household Spending (SHS)

The Survey of Household Spending (SHS) is a national survey that gathers information on the spending habits of Canadians and allows us to measure changes in these spending patterns. It looks at how much households pay for, among others, food, clothing, shelter and transportation.

This information will help governments, economic and social policy analysts, community groups and businesses serve you better. The data we collect may be used to:

  • track where Canadians' money goes - food, shelter, health care, car repairs, entertainment, etc.
  • gauge the availability of affordable housing
  • determine the amount spent on health care that is not covered by public or private health insurance
  • understand changes in spending due to the COVID-19 pandemic

By taking part in this survey and tracking your expenses in the diary, you will be representing thousands of other Canadian households that are similar to yours.

Your information may also be used by Statistics Canada for other statistical and research purposes.

Collection period:

From January 6, 2023 to February 10, 2024

This is a biennial survey, with a monthly collection. The collection period for SHS is 6 weeks. It begins on the first of the month and continues to the fifteenth of the following month. Follow-up calls for the diary begin on the fourth of the month and continue until the tenth, two months after the cycle begins, for all 12 months of the year.

All households will be asked to complete the diary in SHS 2023. Respondents from the provinces will complete the diary for 7 days and respondents from the territories will complete the diary for 14 days after completing their questionnaire.

Collection methods:

Electronic questionnaire, telephone interview, in-person interviews and paper diary (Your diary of daily expenses).

Survey participation:


Your participation in the Survey of Household Spending is voluntary. However, since each household can represent up to 1,100 similar households depending on the province or the territorial capital, it is important that all the selected households participate. This ensures that accurate information is available. For statistical reasons, we cannot replace your household with another one. Every household that does not participate reduces the amount of collected data.


Data are collected under the authority of the Statistics Act, Revised Statutes of Canada, 1985, Chapter S-19. Your information will be kept strictly confidential.

Data sharing agreements and record linkage

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

Topics covered in the survey

The survey asks questions about:

  • dwelling information (Address)
  • household information (Occupants list)
  • household information (Demographics)
  • dwelling information
  • owned dwelling and mortgage
  • renter
  • purchase and sale of principal residence
  • utilities
  • repairs and renovations of principal residence
  • secondary residences and other properties
  • household furnishings
  • communication service
  • child care
  • regular expenses
  • recreational vehicle
  • transportation and accommodations
  • vehicle
  • health care
  • clothing
  • education and recreation
  • miscellaneous expenses
  • donations and gifts of money
  • income.

Published data

Statistics Canada publishes the results of its surveys in many formats. To find all the documents related to this survey, follow the links below and type the name of the survey in the search engine located at the left of your screen to filter the results.

Data: You will find tables, profiles of a community or region, thematic maps, public use microdata files, and data visualization tools.

Analysis: You will have direct access to Stats in brief (e.g., releases from The Daily, fact sheets), articles and reports, and journals and periodicals.

Survey-specific questions

Who is surveyed?

Households that have been selected across the 10 provinces and 3 territorial capitals.

How was my household selected to participate in this survey?

It would be very expensive, and impractical to survey every household in Canada. Instead, Statistics Canada uses a statistical method called "sampling" to select households like yours. It is an established way to determine the characteristics of an entire population with the answers from a randomly chosen sample. For this survey, it is your address that was chosen and not you personally. To ensure that the sample is an accurate reflection of the spending patterns of the population as a whole, it is important that all selected households participate in the survey.

Who uses the information? Why is it important?

Your responses provide essential input to government policy decisions that affect all Canadians. Many groups, including federal government departments such as Statistics Canada and the Department of Finance Canada, use the information from this survey. The COVID-19 pandemic is likely affecting the level and nature of household spending on goods and services, as well as the finances of many Canadians. Collecting data on household spending will help provide an accurate picture of what is happening in the country.

The results from the Survey of Household Spending are used to:

  • Calculate of the household spending basket weights for the Consumer Price Index (CPI) which is used to measure how prices for goods and services are changing over time. The CPI is used to adjust the payments of social programs (Canada Pension Plan, Old Age Security and the Canada Child Benefit), as well as wage and salary settlements.
  • Assist in the calculation of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), a key indicator of the health of Canada's economy.
  • Measure how much households spend on necessities such as shelter, food and clothing.
  • Show trends in household spending in areas such as education and health care.
  • Compare spending habits of different types of households (low-income, senior citizen, lone-parent, single member households, etc.).
  • Provides insight into the impact of specific circumstances, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, on household spending.
  • Help monitor housing adequacy, suitability and affordability.

How to get ready to fill out the questionnaire?

Gather your most recent regular bills or statements (water, electricity, gas, communication services, rent or mortgage) and any receipts you may have for large purchases you made in the last 12 months, such as furniture and appliances, home renovations, trips, etc.

Having them available will make it easier for you to answer some of the questions.

Why do I need to complete a diary, and is it complicated to do?

The diary focuses on the large variety of smaller, more frequent expenditures that are made by all members of the household. These expenses are more easily forgotten. A diary that is filled in daily is a better way of collecting these types of expenditures.

The diary portion of the survey should take no longer than 5 minutes a day, on average, depending on the number of expenses in the day.

Why do you need information about income if this is a survey about spending?

We collect income information to help us study how households at various income levels spend differently. For instance, the cost of essentials such as food, shelter, and clothing is a concern for everyone but for some low-income families, slight changes in income could affect their ability to pay rent or buy food.

When will the results be available?

Survey results are released in The Daily, Statistics Canada's official release bulletin. The results of the 2021 Survey of Household Spending will be available by Spring 2023.

Consult Published data for survey data and analysis.

For more information on the Survey of Household Spending, contact us.

Resources for respondents

For more information about this survey


How Canadians spent their money in 2021