Community health data sources

The statistics included in the BC Community Health Profiles and Search the Database come from different data sources with different sampling methodologies. The following data sources have been used:

The Census of Population is Canada's largest and most comprehensive data source. The Census collects demographic and linguistic information on every person living in Canada. The census is the main source of data available in a standardized format for small areas. It provides nationally comparable data that can be cross-classified to show details. It is also the main body of comprehensive statistical data at the sub-provincial level on Canada's population.


There was a major change in the methodology for the 2011 Census. Starting May 3, a letter was delivered to 60% of Canadian dwellings. This letter replaced the traditional paper questionnaire and provided information so respondents could complete the questionnaire online. The letter also contained a toll-free number respondents could call to request a paper questionnaire. Questionnaire packages were delivered to about 20% of dwellings by mail. The remaining 20% of dwellings had questionnaires dropped off by enumerators. At a small number of dwellings, enumerators conducted personal interviews.


All questionnaires explained to respondents how they could complete the census online. Questionnaires completed online require fewer edits, do not require scanning and data capture, and usually result in a higher overall item response rate.


For 2011, Statistics Canada did not use a mandatory long-form questionnaire as part of the census. Information previously collected by the mandatory long-form census questionnaire was collected as part of the new voluntary National Household Survey (NHS). Collection of the NHS began within four weeks of the May 2011 Census. Approximately 4.5 million households received the NHS questionnaire.


The 2011 Census questionnaire consisted of the same eight questions that appeared on the 2006 Census short-form questionnaire, with the addition of two questions on language.


Supporting documentation for census data published by Statistics Canada can be found at http://www12.statcan.gc.ca/census-recensement/2011/ref/index-eng.cfm. These reference materials are designed to help users make the most of census data. They cover various aspects of the census and are intended to support the use of census data.

A population projection is a forecast of future population growth. BC Stats applies the Component/Cohort-Survival method to project the population. This method "grows" the population from the latest base year estimate by forecasting births, deaths, and migration by age. These forecasts are based on past trends modified to account for possible future changes and, consequently, should be viewed as only one possible scenario of future population.


B.C. level projections are usually updated in January or February each year, with sub-provincial projections following a few months after. All population estimates and projections are as of July 1st. For details, please refer to BC Stats website at http://www.bcstats.gov.bc.ca/StatisticsBySubject/Demography/PopulationProjections.aspx.

The 2011 CensusPlus dataset includes more than a thousand popular variables that analysts and marketers rely on from the Census, plus valuable additional variables from the National Household Survey (NHS). Due to changes in methodology, Statistics Canada is not officially releasing dissemination area (DA) data from the 2011 NHS, which replaced the long-form census. CensusPlus offers enhanced data for the most important NHS themes for all DAs in Canada, fills in missing values and eliminates random rounding in both NHS and Census data. The result is a comprehensive set of demographic variables available for any geographic level—be it standard census and postal geographies or custom client trade areas.


A detailed description of the product information is available at https://en.environicsanalytics.ca:8090/censusplus.

The CCHS is a cross-sectional survey that collects information related to health status, health care utilization and health determinants for the Canadian population. It relies upon a large sample of respondents and is designed to provide reliable estimates at the health region level.


Since 2007, data collection has occurred every year, with an annual sample to complete the full cycle sample in two years. The CCHS produces an annual microdata file and a file combining two years of data. The CCHS collection years can also be combined by users to examine populations or rare characteristics.


The CCHS covers everyone in the population aged 12 years of and over living in the ten provinces and the three territories. Excluded from the survey's coverage are: persons living on reserves and other Aboriginal settlements in the provinces; full-time members of the Canadian Forces; the institutionalized population and persons living in the Quebec health regions of Région du Nunavik and Région des Terres-Cries-de-la-Baie-James. In Nunavut, the coverage is limited to the ten largest communities which represents about 70% of the Nunavut population. Altogether, these exclusions represent less than 3% of the target population.


A detailed description of the CCHS methodology is available at http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/82-003-x/2001003/article/6099-eng.pdf.

The Census of Population is Canada's largest and most comprehensive data source. The Census collects demographic and linguistic information on every person living in Canada. The census is the main source of data available in a standardized format for small areas. It provides nationally comparable data that can be cross-classified to show details. It is also the main body of comprehensive statistical data at the sub-provincial level on Canada's population.


Between May 1 and May 13 in 2006, 13,576,855 households received a Census of Population questionnaire. Some 229,373 agricultural operations also received a Census of Agriculture form at the same time. Instead of all census forms being delivered by an enumerator, Canada Post delivered forms to about 70% of households, with the remaining 30% receiving a form from an enumerator as in previous censuses. An adult in each household was asked to complete and return the questionnaire online or by mail to Statistics Canada Data Processing Centre.


The short questionnaire contained eight questions and was completed by 80% of households. The long questionnaire contained the same questions as the short form plus 53 additional questions, including three new ones. A new question seeking permission for Statistics Canada to use data from income tax records to lower respondent burden was added to the long form. As well, questions on education were re-worded to improve response quality, including a new question on location of study. Both the short and long forms contained a new question asking whether the respondent would permit Statistics Canada to make their personal information public in 92 years for historical and genealogical research.


For the first time on a country-wide scale, the 2006 Census offered Canadians the option of completing their census questionnaire over the Internet. The latest technologies were used to ensure that Statistics Canada's strict security and confidentiality requirements were met without imposing any pre-registration or lengthy download processes for the census Internet application. This new method places Statistics Canada at the forefront of census taking.


Also for the first time, 2006 Census data from questionnaires were captured automatically, using automated capture technologies, rather than manual methods.


Reference materials for the 2006 Census are available at http://www12.statcan.ca/census-recensement/2006/ref/index-eng.cfm.

Medical practitioners are practitioners with the BC College of Physicians and Surgeons who practice in British Columbia. Specialists refer to medical practitioners with specialties other than General Practice. Supplementary practitioners are practitioners who provide services insured through the MSP Supplementary Benefits program or the Midwifery program and who are approved for licensure by their respective Colleges/Associations. Data on total population, number of practitioners (general practitioners, medical specialists, other health practitioners) by local health area, using fee-for-service for 2009-10 fiscal year were obtained from the DataBC catalogue at http://catalogue.data.gov.bc.ca/dataset/bc-health-population-practitioners-services-and-expenditures-by-local-health-authority-from-msp.

The Early Development Instrument (EDI) is a questionnaire developed by Dr. Dan Offord and Dr. Magdalena Janus at the Offort Centre for Child Studies at McMaster University. The questionnaire has 103 questions and measures five core areas of early child development that are known to be good predictors of adult health, education and social outcomes (including physical health & well-being, language & cognitive development, social competence, emotional maturity, and communication skills & general knowledge).


In BC, the EDI questionnaire is completed by kindergarten teachers from across the province for all children in their classes. Children living on First Nations reserves may not be included in the sample. The data is collected and managed by Human Early Learning Partnership (HELP) based at the University of British Columbia. The EDI is a population-level research tool that is commonly used to understand the vulnerability of the population of children at various levels of geography - provincial, regional, and neighbourhood.


More information is available from the HELP EDI website at http://earlylearning.ubc.ca/edi/.

The BC Alcohol and Other Drug (AOD) Monitoring Project consists of ten different research components each collecting and analysing data from different sources. Together they form a picture of risky substance use and associated harms in British Columbia.


The Alcohol Consumption component of the BC Alcohol and Other Drug Monitoring Project assembles time-series data on alcohol sales in different geographic regions of British Columbia. Such data can be used to better understand epidemiological issues related to alcohol consumption, policy development, evaluation, and interventions. Specifically, the estimates of total absolute alcohol consumption for health regions in BC were based on two data sources, the sale alcohol data and the Ubrew/Uvin data from the BC Liquor Distribution Branch.


Detailed information is available from University of Victoria Centre for Addictions Research of BC website at http://www.carbc.ca/FactsStats/AODMonitoring/AlcoholConsumption.aspx.

BC Vital Statistics Agency is responsible for the ascertainment, registration, and certification of vital events through the administration of the Vital Statistics Act, Marriage Act, and Name Act. Vital statistics data included in the BC Community Health Profiles were obtained from BC Vital Statistics Agency’s 2011 annual report. Although the Vital Statistics Act requires registration of events that occurred in the province, and Section 44 specifically requires that these be reported, vital events are often a reflection of the health status of the population; therefore, most of the information in this report pertains to residents. Specifically, live birth, stillbirth, and death statistics summarize events that occurred in the province to BC residents only, and exclude events to non-residents except where noted. Marriage statistics summarize all events that occurred in the province to either residents or non-residents. Vital events that occurred to BC residents outside the province are not shown in this report. More information on BC Vital Statistics Agency’s 2011 annual report is available at https://www.vs.gov.bc.ca/stats/annual/2011/.

The Satisfaction Survey is an annual province-wide census of Grades 4, 7, 10 and 12 students, their parents and staff in public schools. The questions were developed with input from partner groups, teachers and experts in educational measurement and special education.


The survey is open from January to the end of April of each year, and it covers a range of topics, providing a comprehensive picture of the educational experience in B.C. public schools. Questions were developed with input from partner groups, teachers and experts in educational measurement and special education. Schools, districts, government ministries and other external organizations such as the Representative for Children and Youth use the survey data for planning, research and advocacy work for youth.


More information about the Satisfaction Survey is available at http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/education-training/k-12/support/satisfaction-survey.

Life expectancy is the average number of years an individual of a given age is expected to live if current mortality trends in the region continue. It is a hypothetical measure and an indicator of current health and mortality conditions for a population; it is not a rate. Life expectancy for BC and sub-provincial areas is prepared by BC Stats, Ministry of Technology, Innovation and Citizen’s Services. The data and additional information is available at http://www.bcstats.gov.bc.ca/StatisticsBySubject/Demography/VitalStatistics.aspx.

The socio-economic profiles consist of charts and tables for the various region types within B.C. Each region contains a map and communities, demographic profile, economic hardship, labour market structure, education concerns, crime, health problems, children at risk, and youth at risk. The data and additional information is available at http://www.bcstats.gov.bc.ca/StatisticsBySubject/SocialStatistics/SocioEconomicProfilesIndices/Profiles.aspx.

Population Denominators – V2013

Each year, Population Health Surveillance and Epidemiology (PHSE) at the Ministry of Health assembles annual population denominators from fiscal years 1992/1993 to the most current closed fiscal year. These yearly population denominators contain the demographic and geographic locations of each individual BC resident for the year. The original data sources of these denominators are Registration and Premium Billing (R&PB), Client Registry, Discharge Abstract Database (DAD), Vital Statistics - 2007 data matching and Translation Master File (TMF). The individual’s age is calculated as at the end of the fiscal year or date of death, and the geographic location is the last known residency of each individual at the end of the fiscal year.


Hospital Discharge Records

Discharge Abstract Database (DAD) records represent hospital stays. These records are compiled by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI), which processes data that coding specialists have extracted from hospital chart information. These records may represent a day surgery in a hospital, a day surgery in a private clinic referred by a hospital, or an inpatient (overnight) stay in hospital.

Health condition indicators were obtained from the Chronic Disease Registry of the Primary Health Care Registries of the BC Ministry of Health Services, which uses information from a number of administrative databases for health services from the Ministry including Medical Services Plan (MSP), Discharge Abstract Database (DAD), PharmaNet, and vital statistics. The healthcare utilization data provide information about specific diagnoses and treatments. As a result, disease statuses identified from these administrative databases are more reliable and accurate.

The BC Cancer Registry has existed since 1969, and has been maintained at the BC Cancer Agency since 1980. It contains personal and demographic information as well as diagnosis and death information on all cases of cancer for B.C. residents.


The BC Cancer Registry collects data and generates cancer statistics on the B.C. population for the purposes of cancer prevention and treatment in the province. Specifically, it provides data for cancer control. That is, it provides ongoing information on the scope of the cancer problem, information to plan programs to reduce mortality and morbidity, monitors the effectiveness of such programs, and provides the information used to project future trends of cancer to aid in strategic planning. The BC Cancer Registry also serves as a source of information for research. More information is available at http://www.bccancer.bc.ca/HPI/CancerStatistics/default.htm.

Municipal data do not include data from neighbouring First Nations reserves, though it may include off-reserve First Nations people residing within the municipal boundary. See the Introduction of each profile for a map outlining the boundary for municipal data.

Data presented at a larger geographic area (e.g., local health area) include all communities within the specified region, unless otherwise stated in the data source descriptions above (e.g., Early Development Instrument data and School Satisfaction Survey data). A map outlining the boundary of each community’s local health area can be found on the Introduction page of its profile.

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