How to access data

Research Data Centres Program (RDC)

Research Data Centres provide researchers with access to the microdata from the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS), the National Population Health Survey (NPHS), the Canadian Health Measures Survey (CHMS), the Canadian Cancer Registry (CCR), the Vital Statistics - Birth Database, and the Vital Statistics - Death Database. The centres, which also house microdata from other population and household surveys conducted by Statistics Canada, are situated in secure university settings across Canada. Interested researchers must submit an application describing their project proposal.

For more information on the RDC program and the application process, visit: The Research Data Centres (RDC) Program.

Data Liberation Initiative (DLI)

The Data Liberation Initiative is available to participating post-secondary educational institutions, allowing their faculty and students unlimited free access to numerous Statistics Canada public use microdata files (PUMFs), a special collection of aggregate data tables, databases, and geographic files.

For more information on the DLI program, visit: Data Liberation Initiative (DLI).

Real Time Remote Access (RTRA)

The Real Time Remote Access (RTRA) system is an on-line remote access facility allowing researchers to run SAS programs, in real-time, against microdata sets located in a central and secure location.

Researchers using the RTRA system do not gain direct access to the microdata and cannot view the content of the microdata file. Instead, researchers submit SAS programs to extract results in the form of frequency tables. Note: RTRA is not designed for complex modelling. Using a secure username and password, researchers can use the RTRA at any time to access survey results from any computer with internet access. Confidentiality of the microdata is automated in the RTRA system, eliminating the need for manual intervention and allowing for rapid access to results.

For further information on RTRA system, visit: The Real Time Remote Access (RTRA) system.

Remote Access

Researchers may apply for remote access to the Canadian Community Health Survey and the National Population Health Survey through a service offered by Health Statistics Division. Access is granted under certain conditions. When applying for remote access, justification is needed as to why the public use microdata file (PUMF) is not sufficient, as well as why access to the data through an RDC or the RTRA service is not being sought.

Once a project is approved, researchers are provided with synthetic data from which they develop and test their computer programs (in SAS or SPSS). Researchers then transmit their programs to Health Statistics Division’s Client Services Unit via a dedicated e-mail address. The programs are run on secure data servers by Client Services staff, who also vet the outputs to ensure they meet disclosure and confidentiality requirements and return the vetted outputs to the researcher via e-mail.

Note: The researcher is fully and entirely responsible for developing and testing his/her programs before submitting them to be run. Statistics Canada does not provide programming assistance, offer support for the use of software, or make modifications to the programs that are submitted. If a program does not run properly, or if the researcher submits too many complex programs, the researcher must modify the programs and re-submit.

Remote access to the data is offered free of charge, but is restricted to projects with demonstrated needs. For more information on remote access, contact the Health Statistics Division Client Services Unit at

Custom tabulations

Custom tabulations for all Health Statistics Division Surveys are also available on a cost recovery basis. For more information, contact Health Statistics Division Client Services Unit at

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