Aboriginal Children's Survey (ACS)

Detailed information for 2006




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The Aboriginal Children's Survey was designed to provide a picture of the early development of Aboriginal children and the social and living conditions in which they are learning and growing. The survey provides an extensive set of data about Aboriginal (Métis, Inuit, and off-reserve First Nations) children under six years of age in urban, rural, and northern locations across Canada.

Data release - October 29, 2008


The Aboriginal Children's Survey was designed to provide a picture of the early development of Aboriginal children and the social and living conditions in which they are learning and growing. The survey provides an extensive set of data about Aboriginal (Métis, Inuit, and off-reserve First Nations) children under six years of age in urban, rural, and northern locations across Canada. In 2006, the Survey of Northern Children, originally a component of the National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth (record number 4450), was incorporated into the Aboriginal Children's Survey to provide information on the health and development of children, under the age of 6 years, living in the territories.

The Aboriginal Children's Survey was developed by Statistics Canada and Aboriginal advisors from across the country and was conducted jointly with Human Resources and Social Development Canada to collect information on the development and well-being of Aboriginal children. A unique process was used involving direct participation of parents, front-line workers, early childhood educators, researchers and Aboriginal organizations to develop the survey.

A Technical Advisory Group (TAG), consisting of specialists in Aboriginal early childhood development, was established to provide guidance on the development of the survey. Based on recommendations from the TAG, the survey is holistic in nature and collects information on a wide range of topics, including child's health, sleep, nutrition, development, nurturing, child care, school, language, behaviour, and activities. Since the child's environment is important to their development and well-being, some information is collected on the child's parent(s) or guardian(s) and their neighbourhood or community.

Aboriginal organizations, governments at all levels, early childhood educators, researchers, and parents will be able to use information from the ACS to:
- Inform decision-making (Program/Policy planning and development);
- Support academic research (Educators and researchers).


  • Aboriginal peoples
  • Child development and behaviour
  • Children and youth
  • Health and well-being

Data sources and methodology

Target population

The target population for the ACS includes all children in Canada with North American Indian, Métis or Inuit identity or ancestry, under the age of 6 years, excluding children living in Indian settlements or on-reserve. Children living in institutions were not included. Although children living on-reserve were not included in the provinces, all Aboriginal children living in the territories and children in some First Nations communities in Quebec were included.

The target population for the Survey of Northern Children includes all children (Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal) living in the territories, under the age of 6 years. Children living in institutions were not included.

Instrument design

The questionnaire was developed in collaboration with the Technical Advisory Group. It was focus tested and pilot tested prior to collection.


This is a sample survey with a cross-sectional design.

The Aboriginal Children's Survey (ACS) is a post-censal survey, that is, the sample was selected from children living in households whose response on their 2006 Census questionnaire indicated that they:
- had Aboriginal ancestors and/or
- identified as North American Indian and/or Métis and/or Inuit, and/or
- had treaty or registered Indian status and/or
- had Indian Band membership

The initial sample size of 18,307 was reduced to 17,472 children after reducing the overlap between the ACS and other postcensal surveys as well as the National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth (NLSCY).

Data sources

Data collection for this reference period: 2006-10-01 to 2007-03-31

Responding to this survey is voluntary.

Data are collected directly from survey respondents.

Information about the child was provided by a parent or guardian. October 31, 2006 was the reference date for the ACS. The age of the child was determined as of this reference date and was used in the skip patterns of the questionnaire. Interviews were conducted in person in Nunavut, the Northwest Territories (except for Yellowknife) and in Inuit regions. Elsewhere across Canada interviews were conducted over the telephone. A paper questionnaire was used to record the responses for both the telephone and the in-person interviews.

View the Questionnaire(s) and reporting guide(s).

Error detection

The first stage of error detection was done during the data collection. Interviewers were asked to check their questionnaires page by page ensuring that everything had been filled in correctly and clearly and to ensure that skips had been followed correctly. In cases where questions were incorrectly missed, interviewers were instructed to contact the respondent again to obtain the missing information.

The second stage of survey processing involved editing all the survey records according to pre-specified edit rules to check for errors, gaps and inconsistencies in the survey data. Validity checks on each variable were made to ensure, for example, that numerical answers to certain questions fell within acceptable logical ranges and that invalid multiple responses to certain questions were identified. Checks were also made to ensure that the questionnaire flows were followed properly and that portions of the questionnaire that were to be skipped in the interview because of a previous answer were in fact skipped. Inconsistencies between related questions were also corrected.

Where errors were found, the erroneous information was replaced by a "not stated" code, or corrected based on the answers to other questions. Although the corrections were generally done in an automated way, analysts reviewed some problematic situations on a case by case basis.

Finally, a macro-level verification was done by analyzing frequency distributions to identify anomalies (for example, missing categories or unusually large frequencies).

Quality evaluation

Where possible, results from the ACS were compared with data from other sources (eg., Census, National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth) in an attempt to identify large inconsistencies.

Disclosure control

Statistics Canada is prohibited by law from releasing any data which would divulge information obtained under the Statistics Act that relates to any identifiable person, business or organization without the prior knowledge or the consent in writing of that person, business or organization. Various confidentiality rules are applied to all data that are released or published to prevent the publication or disclosure of any information deemed confidential. If necessary, data are suppressed to prevent direct or residual disclosure of identifiable data.

Data based on a count of fewer than 10 respondents were suppressed to ensure confidentiality of respondents. To further reduce risks of disclosures, all estimates were rounded to the nearest 10 units.

Revisions and seasonal adjustment

This methodology type does not apply to this survey.

Data accuracy

Two types of errors occur in surveys, namely sampling and non-sampling errors. The difference between the estimates obtained from the sample and those that would result from a complete census taken under similar conditions is called the sampling error of estimates. Errors that occur during the survey process which are not related to sampling are referred to as non-sampling errors. Examples of such errors include: interviewers misunderstanding instructions, respondents making errors in answering questions, answers being incorrectly entered on the questionnaire, errors during processing and so on. Actions were taken to reduce these errors to a minimum. Following is a description of measures that were taken for that purpose.

Several rounds of testing were carried out before the survey to evaluate the entire survey process from questionnaire content to data capture and processing.

Questionnaire content and sample selection procedures were tested in a pilot test of the survey.

High response rates are essential for data quality. To reduce the number of non-respondents, Aboriginal interviewers were hired as much as possible. Further, interviewers were all trained by Statistics Canada staff and provided with detailed Interviewer Manuals and were under the direction of interviewer supervisors. A number of attempts were made to contact persons not at home and refusals were followed up to encourage respondents to participate in the survey.

In addition, some measures were taken to identify and correct errors that could result from misinterpretation of a question by the respondent or from a wrong flow followed in the questionnaire. Following the interviews, interviewers reviewed the questionnaires and called respondents back if need be. Supervisors also reviewed the completed questionnaires. A detailed set of edit rules were then used during data processing to identify errors in the responses provided.

The measure of sampling error used for the ACS is the coefficient of variation (CV) of the estimate, which is the standard error of the estimate divided by the estimate itself. For this survey, when the CV of an estimate is equal to or higher than 16.6% but smaller than 33.3%, the estimate will be accompanied by the letter "E" to indicate that the data should be used with caution. When the CV of an estimate is equal to or higher than 33.3%, the cell estimate will be replaced by the letter "F" to indicate that the data is suppressed for reasons of reliability. An "X" is used to indicate that an estimate is suppressed to meet the confidentiality requirements of the Statistics Act.

Detailed information about the survey is available in the ACS 2006 Concepts and Methods Guide (catalogue number 89-634).

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