Households and the Environment Survey (HES)

Detailed information for 2019




Every 2 years

Record number:


The first phase of the Households and the Environment Survey (HES) measures the environmental practices and behaviours of Canadian households that relate to the condition of our air, water and soils. The survey was also designed to collect data to develop and improve three key environmental indicators: air quality, water quality and greenhouse gas emissions.

Data release - Phase 1: December 1, 2020 (First in a series of release for this reference period)


The objective of the survey is to provide context to scientific measures of air and water quality, and greenhouse gas emissions, by gaining a better understanding of household behaviour and practices with respect to the environment.

Since the HES was first conducted in 1991, environmental priorities and concerns have changed for Canadians. The quality of drinking water, the impact of residential pesticide use and the impact of hazardous waste on human health are only some of the newer issues that have moved to the forefront of Canadians' collective consciousness. Changes in environmental practices and behaviours are reflective of these growing concerns. In order to gauge these changes, the HES measures key environmental variables and practices. The survey ran in 1991, 1994, 2006, and every two years between 2007 and 2017. Below is a list of topics that are covered in the first phase of the 2019 HES.

- Home heating and cooling
- Use of firewood
- Water quality concerns of households
- Consumption and conservation of water
- Consumption and conservation of energy
- Pesticide and fertilizer use on lawns and gardens
- Use of household lawn and garden equipment
- Use of gasoline-powered recreation equipment
- Composting and household hazardous waste disposal practices
- Household interactions with nature
- Purchasing decisions

Statistical activity

The Canadian System of Environmental-Economic Accounts provides a conceptually integrated framework of statistics (in physical and monetary terms) and analysis for studying the relationship between the environment and human and economic activity. It presents detailed statistics describing 1) the size of Canada's natural resource stocks and their contribution to national wealth; 2) the extraction of these same resources and their disposition among businesses, households, governments and the rest of the world; 3) the generation of various wastes (liquid, solid and gaseous) by industries, households and governments and the management of these wastes; and 4) the expenditures made by businesses, households and governments for the purposes of protecting the environment. The accounts are, to the greatest extent possible, compatible with the Canadian System of Macroeconomic Accounts (CSMA). They were developed in response to the need to better monitor the relationship between economic activity and the environment.

Reference period: The calendar year corresponding to the reference year.


  • Energy
  • Environment
  • Families, households and housing

Data sources and methodology

Target population

The target population consists of households in Canada, excluding households located in Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut, households located on reserves and in other Aboriginal settlements in the provinces; and households consisting entirely of full-time members of the Canadian Armed Forces. Institutions and households in certain remote regions are also excluded.

Instrument design

The questionnaire was designed by Statistics Canada in consultation with stakeholders involved in the Canadian Environment Sustainability Indicators project and in consideration of the data needs of both the project and the larger research and policy communities.

The questionnaire was designed to follow standard practices and wording, when applicable, in both self-administered electronic questionnaires and a computer-assisted interviewing environment. This included the automatic control of question wording and flows that depended upon answers to earlier questions and the use of online edits to check for logical inconsistencies and gross capture errors.

The survey instrument used for data collection was subjected to extensive testing before its use in the survey.


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

The sampling unit for the HES is the Household.

The HES sample design is closely tied to that of the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS), which in turn follows the Labour Force Survey (LFS) sampling plan. Except for PEI where Simple Random Sampling (SRS) is done, this plan consists of a multistage stratified cluster design in which the dwelling is the final sampling unit. In the first stage, homogeneous strata (geographic or socio-economic) are created within each province. Within the strata, between 150 and 250 dwellings are grouped together to create clusters. Some urban centres have separate strata for apartments or for census Dissemination Areas (DA) to pinpoint households with high income, immigrants and aboriginal people. Independent samples of clusters were drawn from each stratum. In the second stage, dwelling lists were prepared for each cluster, and dwellings, or households, were selected from the lists.

The CCHS data is collected from people aged 12 years and over living in private dwellings within the ten provinces and three territories. Specifically excluded from the survey's coverage are persons living on reserves and other Aboriginal settlements in the provinces, full-time members of the Canadian Armed Forces, those aged 12 to 17 in foster homes, the institutionalized population and persons living in the Quebec health regions of Région du Nunavik and Région des Terres-Cries-de-la-Baie-James.

The CCHS frame was different for its two target populations. For the group 18 and over, the CCHS used the area frame designed for the LFS as its primary frame. For the group between 12 and 17 years of age, CCHS drew a sample from the Canadian Child Tax Benefit (CCTB) files. The sample allocation strategy gives relatively equal importance to the Health Regions (HR) and the provinces. The estimation objectives were met with a provincial 0.75 power allocation followed by a 0.35 power allocation by size of HR within a province. This was followed by some adjustments for known non-response patterns and out-of-scope rates.

The HES was administered to a sub-sample of dwellings from the first two quarters of 2019 CCHS respondents. The selection was done at the CMA level, and was essentially a take-all in each CMA except for the 7 largest CMAs (Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, and the non-CMA portion of Ontario, Quebec, BC and Alberta).

Data sources

Data collection for this reference period: 2019-10-15 to 2020-01-19 (Phase 1)

Responding to this survey is voluntary.

Data are collected directly from survey respondents and extracted from administrative files.

The content of the survey focuses on the behaviours and practices of the household relating to the environment. Data are collected directly from a representative of the selected household. The HES is conducted using a combination of self-administered electronic questionnaires and telephone interviews by Statistics Canada's regional offices using a computer-assisted telephone interviewing (CATI) application.

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

Error detection

The first stage of survey processing undertaken at head office was the replacement of any "out of-range" values on the data file with blanks. This process was designed to make further editing easier.

The first type of error treated was errors in questionnaire flow, where questions that did not apply to the respondent (and should therefore not have been answered) were found to contain answers. In this case a computer edit automatically eliminated superfluous data by following the flow of the questionnaire implied by answers to previous, and in some cases, subsequent questions.

The second type of error treated involved a lack of information in questions that should have been answered. For this type of error, a non-response or "not-stated" code was assigned to the item.

This was followed by a series of edits to ensure consistency in the responses for a household.


In most cases, item non-response to the survey occurred when the respondent did not understand or misinterpreted a question, refused to answer a question, or could not recall the requested information. Values were not imputed when these were missing. They were coded to "not-stated".

Partial non-response occurs when the interview is started but not completed for various reasons. In the case of the HES, less than 1% of interviews were started but not completed and the missed questions were treated as multiple item non-response and coded to "not-stated".


Initial HES weights were created by multiplying CCHS household weights by 2, and then by the inverse of the probability of selection within each HES stratum. These weights were adjusted for nonresponse using a logistic regression model, which included variables from a logistic forecast file, from the Transaction History File and additional nonresponse explanatory variables from the HES. Nonresponse adjustment groups of equal respondent size were formed; to reduce the largest nonresponse adjustment factor the largest and second-largest group were combined. Nonresponse adjustment factors were then computed as the inverse of the weighted observed response rate in the respective response groups.

The weights were then calibrated, using the software Calmar, to household-level control totals by province and household size, and to person-level control totals by province and age. This calibration process ensured that the estimates produced with the HES data were comparable to the counts from the external sources with respect to summary results.

Bootstrap weights, using 1000 replicates, were produced to facilitate the calculation of variance for specific estimates. The replicates were subject to the same methodology as described above.

Quality evaluation

All published data were compared to identical or similar HES data from previous surveys to ensure consistency. Explanations were found for any significant changes. Subject-matter experts confronted the data using other sources as well as by identifying and researching any values that were not consistent with others in the same domain.

Disclosure control

Statistics Canada is prohibited by law from releasing any information it collects that could identify any person, business, or organization, unless consent has been given by the respondent or as permitted by the Statistics Act. 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.

In order to prevent any data disclosure, confidentiality analysis is done using the Statistics Canada Generalized Disclosure Control System (G-Confid). G-Confid is used for primary suppression (direct disclosure) as well as for secondary suppression (residual disclosure). Direct disclosure occurs when the value in a tabulation cell is composed of or dominated by few enterprises while residual disclosure occurs when confidential information can be derived indirectly by piecing together information from different sources or data series.

Revisions and seasonal adjustment

This methodology type does not apply to this statistical program.

Data accuracy

Response rates

The HES response rate is the number of HES responding households as a percentage of the number of HES in-scope households.

Province HES In-scope Households : HES Responding Households : HES Response Rate (%)**

Newfoundland and Labrador 635 : 404 : 63.6
Prince Edward Island 357 : 263 : 73.7
Nova Scotia 1,109 : 785 : 70.9
New Brunswick 945 : 692 : 73.2
Quebec 4,654 : 3,431 : 73.7
Ontario 6,722 : 4,695 : 69.8
Manitoba 1,152 : 768 : 66.7
Saskatchewan 924 : 580 : 62.8
Alberta 2,544 1,779 69.9
British Columbia 2,958 : 1,976 : 66.8

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