Business - Linkable File Environment (B-LFE)

Detailed information for 2021





Record number:


Through a linkage process, the Business - Linkable File Environment (B-LFE) leverages the single-subject ability of existing surveys and administrative data to inform on business and economic issues. It positions these surveys and administrative data to support longitudinal and cross-sectional analysis and offers opportunities to use additional variables to assess entrepreneurship, employment, productivity and competitiveness.

Data release - November 6, 2023 (Co-operatives in Canada)


The objective of the Business - Linkable File Environment (B-LFE) 2021 is to update the linked files with the most recent year of available data for the various sources. This will provide a longer series of data for longitudinal and cross-sectional analysis.

Topics studied

Governments, academics, international organizations and internal Statistics Canada analysts and researchers use the various variables in the B-LFE to study firm behaviour. Employment, revenue and productivity growth are topics of interest for policy departments in developing policies on economic development and particularly in targeting programs to small and medium sized businesses. The B-LFE also allows researchers and analysts to measure the impact of policy programs on targeted groups of firms. Statistics Canada survey managers can also use the B-LFE for frame development. The B-LFE is the source of data for the Entrepreneurship Indicators Program.

Reference period: Each data source has its own reference period. Linkages occur every year, to include the most recent data updates.

Collection period: In the Business - Linkable File Environment, collection periods vary for each data source. Refer to data sources.


  • Balance of international payments
  • Business performance and ownership
  • Corporate taxation
  • Economic accounts
  • Entry, exit, mergers and growth
  • Information and communications technology
  • Innovation
  • International trade
  • Merchandise exports
  • Merchandise imports
  • Research and development
  • Science and technology
  • Small and medium-sized businesses

Data sources and methodology

Target population

The Business - Linkable File Environment contains a complete, up-to-date and unduplicated list of all businesses in Canada based on Statistics Canada's Business Register. The Business Register (BR) contains stratification, collection and response information for Canadian businesses that have a corporate income tax (T2) account, are an employer or have a GST account.

The target populations of the various sources of data used in the B-LFE are explained in their respective SDDS numbers when available for Statistics Canada products.

Instrument design

This methodology does not apply.


The Business - Linkable File Environment, being an integration of microdata from various data sources, is based on the entire universe of businesses in the Business Register.

Data sources

The B-LFE is an environment in which administrative and survey data sources are linked. The data sources, their reference periods, and their survey/statistical program reference numbers (SDDSs) are:

Administrative data sources

- Business Register (BR) - 1996 to 2022 (SDDS 1105)
- Longitudinal Employment Analysis Program (LEAP) - 2000 to 2019 (SDDS 8013)
- General Index of Financial Information (GIFI - T1) unincorporated businesses - 2005 to 2021
- General Index of Financial Information (GIFI-T2) incorporated businesses - 2000 to 2021
- T4 (Statement of Remuneration Paid) Supplemental File - 1997 to 2021
- PMF (Personal Master File) of primary owner/manager of enterprise (including some variables from Census 2006 to 2021 [SSDS 3901] and the Longitudinal Immigration Database 2000 to 2021 [SSDS 5057]) - 2007 to 2014
- TED (T1 Enhanced Database) of primary owner/manager of enterprise (including some variables from Census 2006 to 2021 [SSDS 3901] and the Longitudinal Immigration Database 2000 to 2021 [SSDS 5057]) - 2012 to 2021
- Payroll Deductions Account (PD7) - 2001 to 2021
- Exporter Register - 2010 to 2021 (SDDS 2201)
- Importer Register - 2012 to 2021 (SDDS 2201)
- Patents (Canadian Intellectual Property office) - 2001 to 2006
- United States Patent Office (USPTO) Canadian enterprises only - 2000 to 2011
- Business Innovation and Growth Support (BIGS) - 2007-2008 to 2020-2021 (SDDS 5304)
- Agriculture Tax Data Program (ATDP) - 2016 to 2019 (SDDS 3447)
- Charities - 2003 to 2020
- Canadian Patent Research Database (CPRD) - 2001 to 2015
- Diversity and Skills Database (DSD) - 2001 to 2019 (SDDS 5228)

Survey data sources

- Annual Survey of Research and Development in Canadian Industry (RDCI) - 2000 to 2020 (SDDS 4201)
- Balance of Payments: Canadian Direct Investment Abroad (CDIA) 2000 to 2013 (SDDS 1537)
- Balance of Payments: Foreign Direct Investment in Canada (FDIC) - 2000 to 2013 (SDDS 1537)
- Trade in Commercial Services (TICS/TIS) 2000 to 2020 (SDDS 1536)
- Survey of Innovation and Business Strategy (SIBS) 2009, 2012, 2017, 2019 (SDDS 5171)
- Surveys of Innovation (INNO) 2003, 2005 (SDDS 4218)
- Survey of Electronic Commerce Technology (SECT) 2000 to 2007 (SDDS 4432)
- Survey of Advanced Technology (SAT/ATS) 2007, 2014 (SDDS 4223)
- Survey of Commercialization of Innovation (COI) - 2007 (SDDS 5140)
- Survey on Financing (and Growth) of Small and Medium Enterprises (SFSME/SFGSME) - 2004, 2007, 2011, 2014, 2017, 2020 (SDDS 2941)
- Survey of Intellectual Property Management (SIPM) - 2010 (SDDS 5183)
- Survey of Digital Technology and Internet Use (SDTIU) - 2012, 2013, 2019, 2021 (SDDS 4225)
- Survey of Regulatory Compliance Cost (RCC) - 2011, 2016 (SDDS 5093)
- Schedule 32 - Claim for Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) Carried out in Canada (Form T661) - 2000 to 2021
- Survey of Intellectual Property Awareness and Use (IPAU) - 2019 (SDDS 5291)

The Business Register (BR), being Statistics Canada's central database for business survey operations, was used as the "base" for matching the other sources of data to obtain a one-to-one record linkage. Deterministic record linkage methodology was used in creating these BR linked files. This ensured consistency with other Statistics Canada business programs and made the linkage process more efficient. Probabilistic matching was used to match the two non-Statistics Canada patent datasets to the B-LFE.

Depending on the research topic, the variables of interest from the appropriate linkable files are extracted as research datasets and provided to researchers and analysts in a secured and controlled environment at the Centre for the Development of Economic Research (CDER). Analytical and research results are carefully and rigorously monitored and reviewed before release to ensure all confidentiality and disclosure rules are respected.

Error detection

This methodology does not apply.


This methodology type does not apply to this statistical program.


This methodology type does not apply to this statistical program.

Quality evaluation

As a data linkage process, the quality of the statistical outputs, which are the linked files created from linking the other source administrative or survey data to the Business Register (BR), is measured by the quality of the matching. High rates of matching of records from the BR to the other sources of data indicate good quality and low rates of matching signify poor quality. To ensure a high rate of matching, the Business - Linkable File Environment (B-LFE) matching methodology goes through the following steps:

1. Match by Business Number
2. Match by Enterprise Number
3. Match by Establishment Number

The preliminary match of the other sources of data to the BR is performed using the Business Number. Unmatched records are then matched using the Enterprise Number and those that remain unmatched are matched using the Establishment Number. Records that remain unmatched after these three steps are investigated by manual review through matching to the BR by business name or by consultation with the personnel from the area where the file was created or by consultation with the Business Register Division.

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

Data available in the B-LFE are subject to revision if the source data and/or methodologies used are revised. Consequently, the newest version of the B-LFE would include revisions emanating from the sources. There are no seasonal adjustments performed on the microdata used in the Business - Linkable File Environment.

Data accuracy

Since the Business - Linkable File Environment (B-LFE) is a data linkage of several administrative and survey data to the Business Register, it does not produce statistical estimates for which errors can be provided. Instead the (B-LFE) provides an indication of the match rates (e.g., 99.90% for T2 GIFI in 2018), which show the extent to which the records from the surveys or administrative data sources are matched to the Business Register.

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