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Chapter 2 – Survey content and target population

Content of the National Household Survey (NHS)

The 2011 National Household Survey (NHS) provides information about the demographic, social and economic characteristics of Canadians and the dwellings in which they live. The NHS questions were tested during the 2011 Census consultation and testing processes. Those processes helped Statistics Canada understand users' data requirements and assess questions. The questions were tested through focus groups and one-on-one interviews (qualitative tests) to make sure that they were properly understood. The questions asked in a voluntary context and the NHS collection method were not tested.

The NHS questionnaire contains 54 individual questions and 10 questions about the dwelling (see Appendix 1 for a detailed list of the questions).

The data collected by the NHS cover the following subjects:

  • Basic demographics
  • Families and households
  • Activity limitations
  • Ethnic diversity and immigration
  • Language
  • Aboriginal Peoples
  • Mobility and migration
  • Education
  • Labour
  • Place of work and commuting to work
  • Income and earnings
  • Housing and shelter costs

Two types of questionnaires were developed for the NHS: a questionnaire for the self-administered collection method, and a questionnaire for collection on Indian reserves and in remote areas, where 100% of the households were interviewed by a Statistics Canada enumerator. The NHS collection methods are described in Section 3.2.

NHS target population

The NHS covers all persons who usually live in Canada, in the provinces and the territories. It includes persons who live on Indian reserves and in other Indian settlements, permanent residents, non-permanent residents such as refugee claimants, holders of work or study permits, and members of their families living with them

Foreign residents such as representatives of a foreign government assigned to an embassy, high commission or other diplomatic mission in Canada, members of the armed forces of another country stationed in Canada, and residents of another country who are visiting Canada temporarily are not covered by the NHS.

The survey also excludes persons living in institutional collective dwellings such as hospitals, nursing homes and penitentiaries; Canadian citizens living in other countries; and full-time members of the Canadian Forces stationed outside Canada. Also excluded are persons living in non-institutional collective dwellings such as work camps, hotels and motels, and student residences.

A survey's reference date is the date to which respondents refer when answering the questions. The reference date of the NHS is May 10, 2011, the date of the 2011 Census of Population.

The voluntary nature of the survey

The NHS is a voluntary survey. Statistics Canada encouraged the sampled households to participate in the NHS by outlining the survey's objectives, giving examples of how the data are used, and describing the benefits for their community. These messages were presented in the introductory information sent to respondents and on Statistics Canada's website. Follow-up was carried out for non-respondent households in accordance with Statistics Canada's voluntary social survey model.

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