Canadian microdata

Highlighted resource: Statistics Canada 

Statistics Canada is Canada's national statistical agency, and conducts a wide range of social surveys. Microdata files for many Statistics Canada surveys are available to the University of Toronto community. There are two types of microdata files:

  • Master files. For each survey conducted by Statistics Canada, a master file is constructed which contains all responses by each respondent. The only way that researchers can access master files is through the Research Data Centre (RDC) program (see below). Not all master files are available in the RDCs. When analysis is conducted on master files, the results must be vetted through a process called "disclosure analysis" to ensure that it conforms to the confidentiality rules established by Statistics Canada. 
  • Public Use Microdata Files (PUMFs). Each PUMF is based on a corresponding master data file. Not all master files have PUMFs. The modifications performed by Statistics Canada before the PUMF is released ensure that the risk of breaching confidentiality has been removed. Since the results of any analysis performed do not have to be scrutinized before they are released, the file is considered "public."  University of Toronto users can access PUMFs through the Map & Data Library's tools (see below). 

Finding Statistics Canada microdata

  • ODESI. This data portal provides access to Statistics Canada Public Use Microdata Files (PUMFs).
  • SDA. This data portal provides access to Statistics Canada Public Use Microdata Files (PUMFs).
  • Toronto Research Data Centre. This restricted data enclave provides access to Master files after completion of a rigorous application process. Available to grad students and faculty.
  • Real Time Remote Access (RTRA). This online system allows users to pull descriptive statistics and custom cross tabulations (aggregated data tables) from the Statistics Canada master files (direct access to the microdata is not provided by this system). Available to all U of T students, staff and faculty. 

Other Canadian government microdata

Some other Canadian government agencies have release microdata files. Here are some tools for finding them:

  • Open government portal. Compiles datasets from federal agencies, including Health Canada, Public Health Agency of Canada, Library & Archives Canada, and more. Some datasets are microdata.
  • Statistics Canada Linked Open Data Environment (LODE) Databases: A collection of open databases that compile and normalize microdata from municipal, provincial and federal open data sources to provide national coverage. Databases include Building Footprints; Educational Facilities; Addresses and others, with more in development. Produced and distributed by Statistics Canada. 
  • Discharge Abstracts Database (DAD). The DAD captures information on hospital discharges, with variables such as length of stay, diagnoses, interventions, and demographic variables. Produced by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) and distributed by Statistics Canada. Accessible through ODESI.
  • Map & Data Library microdata search

Researcher-generated microdata