Statistical Glossary

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Aboriginal Aboriginal peoples of Canada are defined in the Constitution Act, 1982, section 35(2) as including the Indian, Inuit and Métis peoples of Canada. Also see Aboriginal Identity and Aboriginal Ancestry.

Aboriginal Ancestry A person has aboriginal ancestry if one or more ancestors are Aboriginal.

Aboriginal Identity Persons Persons who indicate that they identify as an Aboriginal person, and/or are registered under the Indian Act, and/or are a member of a First Nation or Indian band.

Age Specific Fertility Rates (ASFRs) ASFRs represent the average number of births to 1,000 women of the specific age group. All figures are calculated using the average of two consecutive July 1st populations and Census Year (July 1 to June 30) period births of the year stated.

Balance of Payments The Balance of Payments Current Account presents Canada's receipts (exports of goods and services) and payments (Imports of goods and services) when ownership changes, rather than when the goods/services move. The Capital Account records capital transactions. The adjustment of Customs based imports and exports to a Balance of Payments basis include trade definition, valuation and timing related adjustments. Customs based merchandise trade statistics cover the physical movement of goods as reflected by Customs documents. Balance of payments adjusted data are intended to cover all economic transactions between residents and non-residents which involve merchandise trade.

Bankruptcy A legal process performed under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act. Because of inability to pay debts, all assets (except those exempt by law) are assigned to a licensed trustee.

  • Business bankruptcy is a bankruptcy (under federal legislation) which is chiefly attributable to the liabilities incurred as a result of the carrying on of a commercial venture or business and includes proprietorships, partnerships and Limited Companies.
  • Consumer bankruptcy is a bankruptcy where an individual has not incurred liabilities as a result of a business venture or where liabilities attributable to a business venture constitute less than 50 percent of the total liabilities.

Building Permits Data are collected from almost all issuing bodies (municipalities and regional districts); no estimation is made for non-reporting entities. The value includes the following expenditures: materials, labour, profit and overhead. The type of structures include new buildings, additions, alterations and renovations. Data is broken down into residential, commercial, industrial and institutional and governmental.

Census A survey that collects data from all the members of a population – people and businesses. Census usually refers to the population Census of Canada which is taken at five-year intervals which counts persons and households and a wide variety of characteristics. Every fifth household receives a long-form questionnaire asking additional questions.

Census Agglomeration (CA) One or more adjacent municipalities centred on a population centre known as the urban core. The Census population count of the core is at least 10,000. To be included in the CA, adjacent municipalities must have a high degree of integration with the core, as measured by commuting flows derived from previous census place of work data. If the population of the core of a CA declines below 10,000, the CA is retired. When a CA has a core of at least 50,000 based on Census counts, it is subdivided into census tracts. Census tracts are maintained for the CA even if the population of the urban core subsequently falls below 50,000.

Census Division (CD) A generic term used by Statistics Canada for regional geographic areas larger than municipalities. In B.C., these are the same as regional districts. CDs are further broken into census subdivisions.

Census Geography The Census uses standard legal geography for the boundaries of regional districts, municipalities and Indian Reserves, and, in 2001, the regional district electoral areas, to disseminate data. Statistical areas, such as census metropolitan areas, census agglomerations and census tracts have been created in consultation with local authorities to provide another basis for data analysis.

Census Metropolitan Areas A CMA is one or more adjacent municipalities centred around a large urban area known as the urban core. The Census population count of the urban core must be at least 100,000 to form a Census metropolitan area. To be included in the CMA, other adjacent municipalities must have a high degree of integration with the central urban area, as measured by commuting flows derived from Census place of work data. Once an area becomes a CMA, it is retained as a CMA even if the population of its urban core declines below 100,000. All CMAs are broken into Census Tracts..

Census Subdivision (CSD) CSDs are municipalities (as determined by provincial legislation) or areas treated as municipal equivalents for statistical purposes including Indian reserves, Indian settlements and unorganized territories. With the 2001 Census, Regional District Electoral Areas (unorganized areas) became CSDs. Prior to 2001, unorganized Census Subdivisions were determined in consultation with the Province of B.C. and were arbitrarily named: Subdivision A, B, C and so on. Many unoccupied Indian Reserves in B.C. have not been identified as Census Subdivisions. Subdivisions, including municipal, Indian Reserve and unorganized area subdivisions add to Census Divisions.

Census Terminology See Statistics Canada's Census Dictionary.

Census Tracts (CT) CTs are small, relatively stable geographic areas that usually have a population of 2,500 to 8,000. They are located in census metropolitan areas (CMAs) and in census agglomerations (CAs) with a core population of 50,000 or more in the previous Census.

Classification Systems These have been developed primarily by Statistics Canada so that standard definitions are used in survey collection, analysis and dissemination. Classifications change over time to meet changes in society and the economy. Common ones are the Standard Geographical Classification (SGC), the National Occupational Classification (NOC), the North American Industry Classification (NAICS). Concordance tables show comparisons of the coding schemes when classifications change.

Community A loosely defined term that could mean a municipality, near municipality or unorganized settlement. Some data which is geographically created by grouping postal codes do not match municipal boundaries exactly.

Constant Dollars (K$) Dollar value adjusted for price change and expressed in terms of a "constant" year. The concept is widely used in the Economic Accounts.

Consumer Price Index (CPI) The CPI is a measure of price change in the cost of a basket of consumer goods and services. It is used to calculate the percentage change over time for an area, for example, B.C., Vancouver or Victoria. It cannot be used to compare prices between areas. The CPI is also referred to the Cost-of-Living Index. Cost of living is a misnomer as it implies a dollar cost one might require to live. COLA (cost of living adjustment) clauses in union contracts and wage settlement agreements normally use the CPI to adjust for inflation.

Designated Place (DPL) A small settlement that does not meet the criteria used to define municipalities or census subdivisions. They are created in consultation with local authorities, the provincial government and Statistics Canada. With 1996, it became an area for which Census data is compiled.

Development Region Groupings of Regional Districts defined by previous economic development agencies, used for analysis in some reports. Referred to as Economic Regions by Statistics Canada, they are used to publish Labour Force Survey results.

Dissemination Area A small (400 to 700 persons), relatively stable area, created for the first time in the 2001 Census. It is the smallest geographic area for which an array of Census data is produced. Prior to 2001, the Enumeration Area was the smallest unit for which data was published.

Economic Accounts The Gross Domestic Product and associated tables including Personal Income and Personal Disposable Income.

Economic Dependencies Local area economic dependencies identify the sources of income which support local economies and are used to estimate the impacts on employment and income changes in those sources.

Economic Multipliers The ratio of total economic impacts associated with a given project or policy to the direct expenditure.

Economic Region Used by Statistics Canada for the Labour Force Survey, the geography of these regions are the same as the development regions. Economic regions had once been a differently configured set of regions used by the B.C. Government and are no longer in use.

Electoral Area A relatively small geographic region used for electing representatives of unorganized areas to Regional District Boards. For the first time with the 2001 Census, electoral areas were used as census subdivisions in the unorganized areas of B.C.

Employed A term used by the Census and Labour Force Survey to refer to persons at work during Census week and Labour Force Survey week, as well as those not at work for reasons of illness, family responsibility, vacation or labour dispute. It does not include institutional residents or those on layoff or with a job to start at a future date. The Labour Force Survey also excludes persons living on Indian Reserves and full-time members of the armed forces.

Employment Income Total wages and salaries received from employment. Used in the Census to include both working for others and self-employment. In income data based on Income Tax returns, employment income excludes self-employment income which is shown separately.

Employment Insurance (EI) Employment Insurance provides temporary financial help to unemployed Canadians while they look for work, upgrade their skills, are pregnant or caring for a newborn or adopted child, or while they are sick. Persons must contribute to the plan and qualify under the rules.

Employment Rate The ratio of the number employed persons expressed as a percentage of the total population, 16 years of age and over. Used in both the Labour Force survey and the Census.

Enumeration Area (EA) A geographic area canvassed by one Census representative. Prior to the 2001 Census, it was the smallest area for which an array of Census data was available.

Establishment (Business) The statistical establishment as defined by Statistics Canada's Business Register, is the smallest operating entity capable of reporting all elements of basic industrial statistics. For example, a large forest company may be broken into a number of establishments at it's different locations and activities such as logging, sawmilling, pulp and paper. However, a business, such as a bank, could be considered a single-establishment company, counted only once in the province where the head office is located with no indication of the number of branches across the country. As a result the number of business establishments tends to be understated.

Ethnic Origin Used in the Census, ethnicity describes a person's ancestry; multiple responses were permitted. Prior to the 1981 Census, ethnic origin was based only on male ancestry and only one response was allowed.

Experienced Labour Force Used in the Census, Experienced Labour Force is used in industry, occupation and class of worker tabulations. It includes those in the labour force in Census week, either employed or unemployed, but excludes those unemployed who had not had a job since January 1 of the year previous to the Census.

Exports (Merchandise Trade) Exports are the sum of domestic exports and re-exports. Canadian exports to overseas countries are valued free on board (F.O.B.) port of exit, including domestic freight charges to that point but net of discounts and allowances. Since 1990, Canadian exports to the USA have been valued F.O.B. point of exit from Canada. The Harmonized System, a commodity classification, is used for merchandise exports.

  • Domestic exports include goods grown, extracted or manufactured in Canada, including goods of foreign origin which have been materially transformed in Canada for which Customs documents must be filed, if the goods are destined for foreign market(s).
  • Re-exports are exports of goods of foreign origin which have not been materially transformed in Canada, including foreign goods withdrawn for export from bonded customs' warehouses.

See also Balance of Payments, F.O.B, Harmonized System.

Family, Census or Economic See Census Family or Economic Family

Census Family A married or common-law couple, with or without children, (of either or both partners) at home, or a lone parent with at least one child at home. A couple may be of opposite or same-sex (new with 2001 Census). This Census Family concept is used both in the Census and other family estimates and income studies. Persons not in a Census family are termed "Non-family persons".

Economic Family Refers to a group of persons sharing the same dwelling and related by blood, marriage, common-law or adoption. Used in the Census, particularly in relation to low income data and in other income surveys. Persons aged 15 or over who are not in an Economic Family are termed "Unattached Individuals".

First Nations has come into common use to replace the term North American Indian. This is the meaning in BC Stats documents.

F.O.B. (Free on Board) Canadian exports and imports are valued F.O.B., place of direct shipment from/to Canada. It excludes freight and insurance costs in bringing the goods to Canada from the point of direct shipment.

Harmonized System (HS) An internationally recognized system of Commodity Description and Coding. Structured on chapters of goods with on common features, the first six digits of the code is used internationally. The seventh and eighth digits are statistical and determined by Canada for exports and relate to the tariff for imports. The ninth and tenth digits are statistical.

High Technology High technology is not a standard industry classification. Definitions of what constitute high technology vary, but generally it includes cutting edge technology in the computer, engineering, aerospace, military, health and biotechnology fields.

Household A person or group of persons who occupy a dwelling unit.

Housing Starts A measure of new residential construction that includes units designated for non-transient year-round occupancy. Excluded are conversions, vacation homes, cottages, collective dwellings and mobile dwellings. The survey is carried out monthly by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation in population centres of 10,000 or more, with a sampling of smaller communities four times a year.

Immigrant A person who has been granted the right to live in Canada permanently by Canadian immigration authorities. In the Census, immigrants are the total count of those resident in a geographic area; data is available by country of birth, period of immigration to Canada, and age at time of immigration.

Immigrant landings data provides the number of immigrants who physically arrive in Canada during a specified period; data is available by country of last permanent residence.

Imports (Merchandise Trade) Imports include all goods crossing Canada's territorial boundary, whether for immediate consumption in Canada or for storage in bonded customs warehouses. The value for duty under GATT is equivalent to the price actually paid. Canadian imports are valued F.O.B. place of direct shipment to Canada and exclude freight and insurance costs associated with bringing the goods to Canada from that point of direct shipment. The Harmonized System is used for merchandise imports. See also Balance of Payments, F.O.B., Harmonized System.

Income Generally referring to money income, this term is used in the Census, sample surveys and the Economic Accounts. Income can be per capita, or for persons, households or families. Check data sources and survey questionnaires to determine what income is included. For example, income data from income tax returns excludes some types of income (such as provincial income assistance) as taxable income. Many income sources provide some breakdown on source of income.

Incorporations (Business Formations) Incorporations are the number of new limited companies registered under the Business Corporations Act. Sole proprietorships or partnerships are not included. Under or over reporting of incorporations in certain areas may occur as the address shown on a new business registration, often a lawyer's address, may be in a different community than where the company carries on business.

Indian Reserve Tract of federally owned land that has been set apart for the use and benefit of an Indian Band and which is governed by Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada. Occupied or potentially occupied Indian Reserves are treated as Census Subdivisions.

Indian Settlement A place where a self-contained group of at least 10 Indian people reside more or less permanently. It is usually located on Crown land under federal or provincial jurisdiction but doesn't have the status of an Indian Reserve. Statistics Canada relies on Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada to identify Indian settlements to be recognized as a Census subdivision; this is in agreement with the province. There are three Indian settlements in B.C. which are Census subdivisions; two in Stikine Region and one in Peace River Regional District.

Index A number used to indicate magnitude relative to some base, usually set at 100. The most familiar is the Consumer Price Index, where the relevant measure is the percent change between indexes (time periods). Indexes can also be spatial such as the Inter-City Index of Retail Price Differentials where one city equals 100 and the other cities' price levels are expressed relative to that.

Inflation Commonly used to describe an increase in prices, it is frequently calculated with the Consumer Price Index which measures price change in consumer goods and services. However, a variety of other price indexes exist which may be more appropriate for particular applications. For example, a set of Industry Price Indexes measure price change in industrial goods, construction price indexes may be appropriate for that sector, import and export price index look at traded goods, the price deflator for the Gross Domestic Product may be appropriate if one is looking at inflation across the whole economy. Search Statistics Canada's website.

Input/Output (I/O) Model The I/O model is a way of understanding and estimating how changes in one industry can affect other industries.

Labour Force The term labour force is used in both the Census and the Labour Force Survey and includes the employed and unemployed. Both the Census and the Labour Force Survey exclude institutional residents. In addition, the Labour Force Survey excludes persons living on Indian Reserves and full-time members of the armed forces.

Low Income Cut-Offs (LICO) Low Income Cut-Offs are income levels used in the analysis of low income among the population. The income levels were established using a 1992 Family Expenditure Survey where it was found that families in Canada spend on average, 44 percent of their after-tax income on food, shelter and clothing. Then 20 points are added bringing the proportion to 64 percent of income. This is done on the grounds that a family spending more than this proportion of its income on necessities is significantly worse off than the average family. From that it was determined what the income levels would be, using both family size and urban area size, at which families were spending 64 percent or greater of their income on necessities. These are updated annually using the Consumer Price Index.

Life Expectancy The average number of years a person may expect to live given the present mortality experience of a population.

Manufacturing Sales (Shipments) Based on a sample survey of Canadian manufacturers, sales (or shipments) are defined as the value of goods manufactured by establishments that have been shipped to a customer. Sales exclude any wholesaling activity or revenue from the rental of equipment or the sale of electricity. For aerospace products and shipbuilding, the value of production is used rather than the value of sales.

Migration Used both in the Census and in BC Stats population estimation and projection activities. In the Census, a person's address was asked one year and five years ago. A migrant was anyone with a change of address except for those whose move was within the same census subdivision. Migration or net migration is a component of population change.

Municipality The term municipality is used to refer to a legal entity, in B.C.; a city, town, village or district municipality.

National Occupational Classification (NOC) The NOC is the authoritative resource on occupational information in Canada. It replaces the National Occupational Classification 2006 (Employment and Social Development Canada) and National Occupational Classification for Statistics (Statistics Canada). The NOC provides a complete listing of all the categories under which Canadian jobs are classified and their descriptions. The NOC and NOC-S were preceded by the Standard Occupational Classification 1991.

North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS) NAICS was developed as a standard industry system for Canada, the United States and Mexico. It is designed to provide common definitions of the industrial structure of the three countries and a common statistical framework to facilitate the analysis of the three economies. In Canada, NAICS replaced the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) for industry coding.

Participation Rate The Participation Rate in the Census and Labour Force Survey is the labour force as a percentage of the population. See Statistics Canada's Census Dictionary and the Guide to the Labour Force Survey for more detail.

Population (Census) Population includes citizens of Canada and landed immigrants resident in Canada as well as those living abroad on a military base, attached to a diplomatic mission or aboard a merchant vessel of Canadian registry. Also included are non-permanent residents: refugees, and their families living with them, and persons holding student or employment authorizations or a Minister's permit to stay in Canada. Foreign residents are not included. See Guide to the Census Population, 2016 for more information.

Population (Labour Force Survey) Population as used in the Labour Force Survey are non-institutionalized persons, 15 years and older. Not included are persons living on reserves or other Aboriginal settlements in the provinces, full-time members of the Canadian Armed Forces and households in extremely remote areas with very low population density. See the Statistics Canada website for more information.

Population Projections Small area population projections for B.C. are based on the Component/Cohort-Survival method requiring projections of each of the components of population change, fertility, mortality and migration. With base year age-specific estimates of population, a projection for any subsequent year is made by promoting each age to the next highest age while at the same time taking into account births, deaths and net migration. Assumptions relating to migration, births and deaths by small area are based on past conditions, modified wherever possible to take into consideration possible future changes. Consequently the projections should be taken as only one possible scenario.

Production The output of a facility such as a mine or manufacturing establishment. Production is often measured in physical volumes. Check source documents for information on the valuation of production.

Provincial Electoral District or Riding A geographic region for representation in the provincial legislature.

Random Rounding A method used with Census data to protect confidentiality. Every published figure (other than total exact population) is randomly rounded up or down to the nearest multiple of five, with the exception of numbers under 10. Numbers smaller than 10 are rounded to zero or 10.

Regional District A region created by the provincial government in the late 1960s for the delivery of certain services. Regional districts cover all of the province with the exception of the northwest area called Stikine Region. Regional districts and Stikine Region are used by Statistics Canada as census divisions.

Sample Survey A survey that draws on a representative sample of the population to survey as a proxy for the whole population; for example, the Labour Force Survey.

Seasonal Adjustment Fluctuations in economic time-series are caused by seasonal, cyclical and irregular movements. A seasonally adjusted series is one from which the seasonal movements have been eliminated. Seasonal movements are defined as those which are caused by regular annual events such a climate, holidays, vacation periods, and cycles related to crops, production and retail sales associated with Christmas and Easter. On an annual basis, the historic series of seasonally adjusted data are revised in light of the most recent information on changes in seasonality.

Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) The 1980 SIC preceded NAICS as the standard for classifying businesses. It was very similar in structure to the 1970 SIC which had needed updating to accommodate the significant changes in the kinds of businesses that entered the economy during the 1970s. View the NAICS manual and concordance with the SIC. The SIC is used for industry coding both in the 1996 Census and had been used for the Labour Force Survey as well as many business surveys.

Small Business The definition of what constitutes a small business varies with the study. The most common definition used by BC Stats is a business employing fewer than 50 employees or a business operated by a self-employed individual with no paid help. See Small Business statistics.

Socio-Economic The term refers to studies or indicators looking at both social and economic conditions relevant to well-being. Regional Socio-Economic Profiles and Indices produced by BC Stats have relied on statistical indicators which are uniformly available for all regions of the province on an ongoing basis.

Standard Geographical Classification (SGC) The coding system used to define geographic areas primarily for statistical purposes. The SGC defines both legal and statistical areas and is used by Statistics Canada and other federal and provincial agencies including BC Stats. Boundaries of legal and statistical areas may change over time but the code for the geographic area usually stays the same. A new SGC is created with each Census reflecting that have come into being since the previous Census; for example the addition of new municipalities. See Statistics Canada's website for more information.

Total Fertility Rates (TFR) TFRs represent the average number of births 1,000 women could have, if their lifetime fertility was the same as the ASFRs (the average number of births to 1,000 women of the specific age group). All figures are calculated using the average of two consecutive July 1st populations and Census Year (July 1 to June 30) period births of the year stated. See fertility rates.

Tourism The activities of persons traveling to, and staying in places outside, their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year. Tourism includes part of retail trade, transportation services and many other sectors. It does not fit into the standard classification system used for industries. See Tourism statistics.

Unemployment, Unemployment Rate The unemployed are persons who, during the reference week, were available for work and were either on temporary layoff, had looked for work in the past four weeks or had a job to start in the next four weeks. The concept is the same for both the Census and Labour Force Survey. See the Census Dictionary and the Guide to the Labour Force Survey for more detail. Both the Census and the Labour Force Survey exclude institutional residents. In addition, the Labour Force Survey excludes persons living on reserves or other Aboriginal settlements, full-time members of the Canadian Armed Forces and households in extremely remote areas with very low population density. The unemployment rate is the unemployed expressed as a percentage of the labour force.

Vehicles (Licenced) Passenger cars and commercial vehicles licenced for the road are reported by ICBC as of December 31, annually. The geographic assignment is based on ICBC motor vehicle licencing areas/offices and should not be taken as municipal areas.

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