Survey of Household Spending

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This survey collects information on amounts spent on food, clothing, shelter, transportation, health care and other items in order to understand spending habits of households in Canada. Information is also collected about dwelling characteristics and household furnishings and equipment. Your information may also be used by Statistics Canada for other statistical and research purposes.

Collection periods:
January 2 to December 31, 2017
Collection methods:
Personal interview and diary of daily expenses
Survey participation:


Your participation in the Survey of Household Spending is voluntary. However, since each household can represent up to 2,000 similar households depending on the province, it is important that all the selected households participate. This ensures that accurate information is available for all provinces. For statistical reasons, we cannot replace your household with another one. Every household who does not participate reduces the amount of collected data.

  • Block Information Confidentiality


    Your answers are collected under the authority of the Statistics Act and will be kept strictly confidential.

  • Block Information on Record linkage

    Record linkage

    To enhance the data from this survey and to minimize the reporting burden for respondents, Statistics Canada will combine your responses with information from personal tax data. Statistics Canada may also combine the information you provide with other survey or administrative data sources.

  • Block Information on Topics covered in the survey

    Topics covered in the survey

    The survey asks question about:

    • expenditures
    • dwelling characteristics
    • household equipment
    • income
  • Block Information on Published data

    Published data

    Statistics Canada publishes the results of its surveys in many formats, the following list includes the latest articles and related documents for this survey:

  • Block Information on Survey-specific questions

    Survey-specific questions

    What is the purpose of this survey?

    The Survey of Household Spending collects detailed information about household expenditures for consumer goods and services by conducting an interview. Some households will also be receiving a 14-day diary to record their spending for goods and services purchased over that period. The survey also collects information about housing conditions, household equipment and income. The spending data in combination with the housing, equipment and income data, is used to measure the changing spending patterns of all Canadians. Your information may also be used by Statistics Canada for other statistical and research purposes.

    Who is surveyed?

    About 18,400 households are surveyed across the 10 provinces and 3 territorial capitals in the North.

    How was my household selected to participate in this survey?

    It would be very expensive, and not very practical, to survey every household in Canada. Instead, Statistics Canada uses a statistical method called "sampling" to select your household. 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.

    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 results from the Survey of Household Spending are used to:

    • Update the calculation of the Consumer Price Index (CPI) often referred to as the rate of inflation. The CPI is used to adjust the payments of social programs (Canada Pension Plan, Old Age Security and the Canada Child Tax Benefit), as well as wage and salary settlements.
    • Assist in the calculation of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by the System of National Accounts at Statistics Canada.
    • Calculate low-income cut-offs.
    • Measure how much households spend on basic expenses such as shelter, food and clothing.
    • Show trends in household spending on education and health care.
    • Help government agencies identify the needs of low-income, senior-citizen and lone-parent households.
    • Compare spending habits of different types of households (low-income, senior citizen, lone-parent, single member households, etc.).
    • Monitor housing adequacy, suitability and affordability.

    How to get ready for the interview?

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

    You do not need to show any of these documents to the interviewer, but having them available will make it easier for you to answer some of the questions.

    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. The income information helps identify the needs of different types of households.

    Where does Statistics Canada get my tax data?

    Statistics Canada will get your tax information from the Canada Revenue Agency. Your tax information will only be used for statistical and research purposes.

    How will Statistics Canada access my income tax information?

    We will use information you have provided us, such as your name, address, date of birth, marital status, sex and postal code, to find your tax records on various Canada Revenue Agency files.

    When will the results be available?

    Survey results are released in The Daily, Statistics Canada's official release bulletin.

    Consult Published data for survey data and analysis.

    Where can I get more information about the survey?

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

  • Questionnaires, definitions, data sources and methods: survey number 3508
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