Friday, October 30, 2015

Data for High School Students


I have had a request from a high school librarian who is looking for databases for her students. I have copied out the relevant part of her emails.

Since the demise of Estat, I am not really sure where to direct her.

“The past few days I have been flooded with requests for help from grade 12 IB biology students who are working on their “Internal Assessment” assignments. The internal assessment consists of a scientific investigation for which the student must find, use, and analyze external datasets. Most are experiencing a great degree of difficulty in locating data that is suitable, that is, related to their research question and at a level that they can easily understand and manipulate. The subject areas in which most students hope to work are marine biology and environmental systems. As there is also a similar assignment in the chemistry, physics, and math studies courses, I need to figure out the best way to access this kind of data for students at a high school academic level. Any suggestions at all would be greatly appreciated.”


Point them to the open data portals! The most comprehensive list can be found here

I have found the Gateway to Research Data search particularly useful for students in the sciences.

For Science Data the teacher should have a look at It is becoming the international registry for accessible data. Sites like Pangea, Bar Code of Life, as well as Geogratis, are all listed there.

Canadian Disaster Database: Historical information on disasters affecting Canadians over the past century.

CANSIM’s environmental tables

Drought Watch (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada): Drought Watch provides timely information (maps) of the impacts of climatic variability on water supply and agriculture.

GeoGratis: Gateway to millions of geospatial data products, including a search tool to discover geospatial data (maps, satellite images, publications and other geospatial data), organizations, and geospatial-related services.

National Air Pollution Surveillance Program (NAPS) - Environment Canada: The National Air Pollution Surveillance (NAPS) Network is a cooperative program of the federal, provincial, territorial and some regional governments providing accurate and long-term air quality data.

National Climate Data and Information Archive: The National Climate Data and Information Archive contains official climate and weather observations for Canada.

National Energy Use Database (NEUD): NEUD is an initiative to help NRCan improve its knowledge of energy consumption and energy efficiency at the end-use level in Canada. The NEUD's most important role is to secure the development of a reliable, Canada-wide information base on energy consumption for all energy-consuming sectors.

National Pollutant Release Inventory (NPRI): Publicly-accessible inventory of pollutants released, disposed of and recycled by facilities in Canada.

Water Survey of Canada: The Water Survey of Canada (WSC) is the national authority responsible for the collection, interpretation and dissemination of standardized water resource data and information in Canada. In partnership with the provinces, territories and other agencies, WSC operates over 2500 active hydrometric gauges across the country.

Climate Data Online (CDO) (NOAA): Climate Data Online (CDO) is the web access application for the National Climatic Data Center's (NCDC) archive of weather and climate data.

UNEP Environmental Data Explorer: This online database holds more than 500 different variables, as national, sub-regional, regional and global statistics or as geospatial data sets (maps), covering themes like Freshwater, Population, Forests, Emissions, Climate, Disasters, Health and GDP. Display them on-the-fly as maps, graphs, data tables or download the data in different formats. Environment

World Bank, World Development Indicators: Filter series: Environment: Environment for Agricultural production | Biodiversity & protected areas | Density & urbanization | Emissions | Energy production & use | Freshwater | Land use | Natural resources contribution to GDP

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

PCCF and FSA comparison


A researcher is trying to identify FSAs by provincial health authorities--the first thing I thought of was the PCCF. Is this a good use of the PCCF / PCCF flavour? Is there an alternative?


I have a suggestion, which might work for your question, and doesn’t require using the PCCF!

Statistics Canada freely provides boundary files for census geography in popular formats such as ArcGIS, GML and MapInfo. The list of downloadable geographies does include Forward Sortation Areas.

Stat Can also provides Health region boundary files. In the user guide, they explain that the health regions are “defined by provincial ministries of health” and will change as the provinces draw up new lines. The files I’ve linked you to are from 2014, but it’s possible to go back in time if working with older data.

So you could download these boundary files in a format compatible with your favorite (?!) GIS software. Then, if you have the knowledge yourself or know a friendly GIS person at your institution that can help, it’s possible to do all kinds of magic – including generating a list of FSAs by health regions. If there’s no GIS people where you are, let us know… several people on this list have experience with GIS software and might be willing to help.

While looking at the boundary files in the software, it will be easier to see if there are problems integrating FSAs and health regions – my understanding is that the country is divided in FSAs by Canada Post for their own needs and the provinces are divided in health regions by the provinces for their own needs – they might not fit exactly with each other.

Following up on the suggestion about comparing boundary files:

I have experience comparing these in Ontario and can confirm that they don't necessarily overlap. In some cases you can make educated guesses about the health unit in which you'd find the bulk of the population for a given FSA, but for other cases this may be quite difficult. Also, the case may be different in BC.

CMHS Cycle 2 and Cycle 3 question


One of our co-investigators was told, about a year ago, that she could not bring the Cycle2 and Cycle3 data together in order to run comparisons. We were wondering if this had to do with methodological changes that happened between the 2 cycles – but have been unable to find any information to this effect. We are particularly interest in the Iron and Ferrin measures.


I consulted with the subject matter division and they provided the following response:

Ferritin is the only iron indicator that we study. Ferritin data
Ferritin data was obtained using an immunoassay on the Centraur XP in cycle 3 and on the Immulite 2000 in cycle 2. Results from these two different immunoassays can only be compared with caution and after applying a correction factor of 0.96319 to the cycle 2 data (i.e. adjusted cycle 3 ferritin = cycle 2 ferritin * 0.96319).

It is in the user guide for Cycle 3.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Locations and boundaries of electoral polling stations


I'm interested in georeferencing polling station results for federal elections and I'd like to know: has anyone managed to get their hands on data for the locations of polling stations (address or point file) and/or the boundaries of polling station catchment areas (boundary file or postal code/address range)? The closest I've found are the pollbypoll and pollsresults CSV files for the 41st election, which provide community names for the location of polling stations but nothing more granular than that.


What about this from geogratis:

In ArcMap it looks like there are some polling division boundaries (polygons) and stations (points) for 2011. Could be used as a basis for other years…

Also, just an FYI the polling station results are also available in odesi, back to 1997 here in case they aren’t readily available online

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Cost of Commercial Properties


I'm looking for the following statistics (ideally for small businesses only):
-- current average value of commercial properties (per ft2 or m2)
-- rental value of same
-- selling prices of same

All of the above at the Canada level. I'm aware of the Commercial Rents Services Price Index, but I would like the actual rents, not just the index.


Subject matter provided the following response to your questions:
We collect net effective rent charged, percentage rent and occupied square feet to create an occupied price per square foot. The change in this ppsf is then indexed. We do not collect any value related information on the properties.As a rule, we do not publish micro-data, the actual rents. The CRSPI also strips out many variables (utility, maintenance and parking costs, etc) that would be included in general rent and impact the renter. A possible alternate data source would be CB Richard Ellis, Avison Young or Colliers. They produce industry reports, as well as the asking rents for many properties within their portfolios.
If you are interested in discussing the CRSPI further, you can contact a subject matter expert at 613-854-3071.

Food Waste Information


I'm looking for information on food-related waste in restaurants and households; things such as:

-spoiled or uneaten food that has to be discarded;

-excess packaging or containers that are non-recyclable


Try these:

Composting by households in Canada

Households and the Environment Survey
Detailed tables from CANSIM

And a few other possible areas to check (you would have to double check to see how recent these are):

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

List of government department changes in Alberta and Sask


Does anyone have a list of how ministries have changed their names in Alberta and Saskatchewan over time?


The provincial government archives have documented the changes to administration over time.

For Saskatchewan, try the link to "Ministries" here:

For Alberta, try: An administrative history of the government of Alberta, 1905-2005

We find the list under “Ministers” on the SELD page very helpful as well since it is an alphabetical listing by ministry or department and you are often able to trace both backwards and forwards in time. The list does start with the Presidents of the Executive Council (i.e. the Premiers) and then the rest of the ministries follow in alphabetical order. Another resource that we use here at the legislative library is our library catalogue as many of the records include ‘see’ and ‘see also’ references. You can search the catalogue here at, .

I often use Canadiana Authorities to find this information. It can be found at: It's a bit awkward to use, but, I have found it to be helpful.

Also, many provincial archives have very good descriptions and history of departments/ministries in their government fonds. Here's an example of the results when you do a search for Alberta Public Affairs -

Friday, October 9, 2015

Population with a university degree in NB / Historic data


We are looking for the number of people with a university degree in New Brunswick, yearly, for the following periods:

• 1977 to 1980
• 1982 to 1985
• 1987 to 1989

We found the stats for 1976, 1981 and 1986 in Historical statistics of New Brunswick (Cat. # 11-X-526).

The researcher has the stats for 1990-2014 from CANSIM Table 2820004.


How about using the Labour Force Historical Review, which contains a file titled:
Labour force estimates by education (based on old definition), age group, sex, Canada, province, annual average.
This covers the years 1976 to 1989. I’ve attached the Beyond 20/20 file that includes these statistics. Just drag and drop the dimensions to get the view you want.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Data on intimidation of journalists


A student is researching incidents of intimidation of journalists. In the CANSIM table 252-0051, this data element has been aggregated to “Total assaults against a peace officer”.

Can journalists be identified in the GSS on victimization?


The information can be found in our Cansim Table 252-0051. The Offence category is “1621 - Intimidation of a justice system participant or a journalist”. In 2014, there were 647 violations in Canada for that category.

It is impossible for us to distinguish between “journalist” and “justice system participant” since we do not collect the profession (work title) of the victim. This violation definition can be found in article 423 of the Criminal Code.

Vital Statistics – Death database


Do we have access to the Vital Statistics – Death Database? I have a researcher who’s looking for historic mortality rates (1930’s – 1970’s).


I confirmed that the RDC’s have access to the Vital Statistics – Death database.

- ICD-3 used from 1921 to 1930
- ICD-4 used from 1931 to 1940
- ICD-5 used from 1941 to 1949
- ICD-6 used from 1950 to 1957
- ICD-7 used from 1958 to 1968
- ICDA-8 used from 1969 to 1978
- ICD-9 used from 1979 to 1999
- ICD-10 used from 2000 to present

Friday, October 2, 2015

“Native Peoples Files” from the 1981 Census


Does Statistics Canada have electronic versions of the “Native Peoples Files” from the 1981 Census? 


The files are loaded temporarily here (will prompt for download):

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Meaning of "not applicable" in 2006 census profile data


A student in an urban studies course pointed out to me that most of the data (everything from the long form, it seems) for census tract 5350033.00 was missing in the profile for 2006; the missing data were replaced by an 'N'. 

It took a bit of digging to discover that 'N' stood for 'not applicable'. Nowhere does it explain what this might mean, either in a general or specific sense. The CT in question had a population of 5528, so it wasn't a suppression due to low population. 

Are non-response rates for individual CTs available anywhere for 2006? Would there have been any other reason to suppress the long-form data?


It seems as though that one was suppressed: