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Statistical Area Classification (SAC)

Part A - Short definition:

Not applicable

Part B - Detailed definition:

The Statistical Area Classification (SAC) groups census subdivisions according to whether they are a component of a census metropolitan area, a census agglomeration or a census metropolitan influenced zone (MIZ). The MIZ classifies all CSDs in provinces and territories that are outside census metropolitan areas and census agglomerations.

The Statistical Area Classification is a variant of the Standard Geographical Classification (SGC). Census subdivisions (CSDs) form the lowest level of the classification variant. The next level consists of individual census metropolitan areas (CMAs), census agglomerations (CAs) and census metropolitan influenced zones (MIZs). The highest level consists of three categories that cover all of the land mass of Canada:

  • census metropolitan areas
  • census agglomerations
  • outside census metropolitan areas and census agglomerations.

The SAC provides unique numeric identification (codes) for these hierarchically-related geographic areas. It was established for the purpose of reporting statistics.

Census years:

2011, 2006, 2001


In using the Statistical Area Classification (SAC) for census data tabulations, it is possible to sum census data automatically for census subdivisions (CSDs) as follows:

  • all CSDs in census metropolitan areas (CMAs)
  • all CSDs in census agglomerations (CAs)
  • all CSDs in the provinces in the strong metropolitan influenced zone category
  • all CSDs in the provinces in the moderate metropolitan influenced zone category
  • all CSDs in the provinces in the weak metropolitan influenced zone category
  • all CSDs in the provinces in the no metropolitan influenced zone category
  • CSDs in the three territories (Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut), except those that are components of a CA (currently the CAs of Whitehorse and Yellowknife).

Care should be exercised when applying the MIZ concept in the three territories. As many CSDs in the territories are very large and sparsely populated, the commuting flow of the resident employed labour force is unstable. For this reason, the CSDs in the territories that are outside CAs are assigned to a territories category that is not based on their commuting flows.

Figure 3 shows the hierarchical structure of the SAC.

Table 2 shows the population distribution of Canada from the 2006 Census using the SAC, and table 3 shows the number of census subdivisions in each category of the SAC for the 2011 Census.

Refer to the related definitions of census metropolitan area (CMA) and census agglomeration (CA); census metropolitan influenced zones (MIZ); census subdivision (CSD); core, fringe and rural area, and to the geographic working paper entitled Census Metropolitan Area and Census Agglomeration Influenced Zones (MIZ): A Description of the Methodology (Catalogue no. 92F0138MIE2000002).

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