Place of work and commuting to work

The Place of work and commuting to work topic provides information on where people work, how they get to work, when they commute to work and the duration of their commute. It was mentioned during consultation that place of work data are becoming more important given the need to design city urban cores in ways that promote health and active transportation. Among consultation participants, data on this Census Program topic are used mostly by local governments.

Examples of reported data usesFootnote1


Of the input received, examples of provincial legislation for which place of work/commuting to work data were cited include the South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority Act [SBC 1998], Ontario's Planning Act, R.S.O. 2005 and Fair Access to Regulated Professions Act, and Quebec's Loi sur l'aménagement et l'urbanisme (L.R.Q., c. a-19.1).

Local governments refer to these data to comply with municipal and provincial legislation. For example, the Region of Waterloo relies on place of work and commuting to work results to fulfil the requirements stipulated by Ontario's Places to Grow Act, R.S.O. 2005, Provincial Policy Statement, 2005, and the Environmental Assessment Act, 1990. As well, the city of Calgary uses place of work data to meet intensity targets set out in the Municipal Development Plan, required under Alberta's Municipal Government Act.

Resource allocation and service delivery

At the provincial level, data from this Census Program topic are used to determine performance targets and funding arrangements related to infrastructure programs and to allocate resources for transit and cycling networks. Local governments rely on place of work and commuting to work results for transportation master plans, rapid transit business cases and land budgets. These data also inform the delivery of various local services including child care, fire, police, utilities, parks and recreation.

Planning, development, monitoring, evaluation and performance reports

Transport Canada consults these data for transportation policy development and planning. Several federal departments and agencies use them for evaluation and/or performance reporting such as Parks Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada. They are analysed by Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada to understand the commuting patterns of on-reserve Aboriginal populations who travel to urban areas for work, and for policy and research purposes.

Provincially, place of work data are used as inputs for travel demand forecasting and modelling which inform transportation planning. These data shed light on transportation system demands and network requirements, commuting flow patterns, trip matrices and mode shares as well as time travel preferences, information used for long-term land use development. They also support the development of rural projects and programs.

Among the uses mentioned by participants from local governments, place of work/commuting to work data contribute to infrastructure planning, regional transportation/public transit planning, transit fare subsidy program planning and are used to determine transportation servicing costs.

Municipal development plans, regional official plans and the Capital Regional District and City of Calgary Regional Transportation Models rely on place of work data. These results inform congestion and mode of transportation issues, important for transportation and infrastructure planning, and are included in Calgary and Victoria's Vital Signs reports.

Research and other uses

The Transportation Association of Canada reported that Census Program data are valuable to transportation planners across Canada, noting: "In particular, transportation planning tools include transportation models which are used to forecast travel demand in urban networks, assess projects and policies, prepare business cases for funding infrastructure and service investments. These tools serve all level of governments (municipal, regional, provincial and federal)."

From an environmental standpoint, this information assists with tracking the number of vehicle-kilometres travelled in an effort to help reduce greenhouse gases, and measuring air quality as it pertains to the mode of transportation.

Place of work/commuting to work data are used to study active transportation at various geographic levels, to create traffic analysis zones, to determine transportation support for target group populations and for international comparisons. They inform educational programs related to commuting by bicycle, and are disseminated via Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's Community Information Database and Newfoundland and Labrador's Community Accounts website. Because they are available nationally, they are used as a basis of comparison among municipalities.

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