Business Register (BR)

Detailed information for December 2012




2 times per year

Record number:


The Business Register is a structured list of businesses engaged in the production of goods and services in Canada.

Data release - February 5, 2013


The Business Register (BR) is the central repository of information on businesses in Canada. The BR is used as the principal frame for the economic statistics program of Statistics Canada (STC). The Business Register's role is to provide Statistics Canada with a comprehensive quality frame in terms of coverage and a set of stratification variables such as industrial classification, revenue, number of employees and total assets.

Although the BR is updated on an on-going basis, data on population of businesses with and without employees are released semi-annually.


  • Business ownership
  • Business performance and ownership
  • Entry, exit, mergers and growth

Data sources and methodology

Target population

The Business Register contains stratification, collection and response information for Canadian businesses. The Business Register maintains a complete, up to date and unduplicated list on all active businesses in Canada that have a corporate income tax (T2) account, are an employer or have a GST account.

Instrument design

This methodology does not apply.


This methodology does not apply.

Data sources

Responding to this survey is mandatory.

Data are collected directly from survey respondents, extracted from administrative files and derived from other Statistics Canada surveys and/or other sources.

The complex portion of the Business Register represents approximately 1% of the total active businesses on the database and accounts for approximately 52% of the total economic activity in Canada. The simple portion represents approximately 99% of the total active businesses on the database and accounts for approximately 48% of the total economic activity in Canada. The focus of manual intervention is on the complex portion of the Business Register while automatic updates from administrative sources are made on the simple portion.

The Business Register is updated by various sources:

- Files from Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) such as; T2, T1, GST and PD7

- Profiling of large and medium sized businesses; profiling is the process of conducting in-depth telephone or on-site interviews with senior company representatives so as to obtain all pertinent financial information, relationships, and structures about the company

- Survey feedback; changes and corrections to frame data on the Business Register are transmitted regularly by survey collection areas during the collection of economic survey data

- Research gathering tools such as: the internet, provincial gazettes, trade and business publications and newspaper clippings.

Error detection

Error detection is performed on an ongoing basis using various methods such as:

Interceptor - a system used by the various survey divisions in conjunction with the BR to pre-scan incoming survey feedback to detect possible errors or the omission of data coming from data collection centers to enhance the flow of survey feedback.

Survey Frame Assessment Tool - this provides survey programs a vehicle with which to review structural, operational or stratification changes on businesses within their universe prior to sample selection.

The Quality Assurance Survey - is a monthly survey designed to measure the accuracy of the industrial classification coding of BR units as well as the death rate. Error rates and death rates are produced at the industrial sector level based on the survey. The classification and business status are then updated accordingly on the BR. Please refer to Quality Assurance Survey questions provided in the link below.


No imputation is done for this survey.


The estimation process is fairly simple. It is a simple count of the number of establishments or a sum of the revenues or a sum of the employment of those establishments that fall in each category of interest. Those categories are formed by the various crossings of employment size ranges, industrial classification and geographical area. Here is more information on how each of them is defined.

The employment size ranges: The number of employees for each enterprise is obtained through direct contact for complex enterprises and from administrative sources (PD7) for simple enterprises.

The industrial classification code: Establishments are coded based on the concept of major business activity in a manner consistent with the approach outlined by the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). For newly created businesses, the primary industrial coding is initially processed using automated coding software. This software evaluates the activity description indicated by the business and assigns the appropriate industry classification coding (about 50% of new business records). Activity descriptions lacking precision are subjected to a manual coding process (about 50% of new business records) with a priority given to larger businesses in terms of size (revenue and number of employees). Subsequent to this initial classification process, the industry code may be further updated if: a) the Business Register is notified of a change of activity as a result of a survey contact; b) a subsequent update from the CRA administrative source mentions a change in the business activities; or c) a business profile is conducted by the Business Register.

The geography: The spatial coding of establishments is based on the Standard Geographical Classification (SGC) maintained by Statistics Canada. The link between a specific business and its geographical code is made using the postal code. Where a single postal code crosses different SGC geographical units, the Business Register assigns all the establishments claiming the same postal code to a single geographical unit, which in general, is the major geographic unit in the surrounding area.

Quality evaluation

Ongoing quality measures are performed using various methods such as:

Joint Staff Committee meets on a regular basis to solve significant frame issues for complex units which affects two or more surveys simultaneously.

Manual Quality Control is performed on an ongoing basis for all manually processed transactions.

Journals are repositories of information about business surveys and their contacts with business respondents.

Disclosure control

Statistics Canada is prohibited by law from releasing any data that 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. Some confidential data can be released for statistical or research purposes with the authorization of the Chief Statistician. Please note that only government bodies can receive authorization from the Chief Statistician permitting them to receive confidential data that identifies individual units. Private companies are not permitted to receive this kind of data (company names, addresses, etc.). 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.

Revisions and seasonal adjustment

Files could theoretically be used for longitudinal analysis:

- files such as the Generic Survey Universe File (SUF)
- files such as the Generic Survey Interface File (SIF).

These two files provide a preview of the population of units in scope for survey programs. They are available in monthly snapshots for the last twenty four months and annually before that.

However, users should be aware that methodological changes might affect longitudinal analysis, e.g. change in the method of identifying inactive units, and that there is no revision to previous reference periods to take these changes into account.

The Canadian Business Patterns (CBP) product provides counts of active business locations on the basis of several variables, such as geography, business activity and employment size. However, it is not advised to use this product for time-series analysis involving comparisons across reference periods.

Data accuracy

Under coverage - Business Register is subjected to a fluctuating number of unclassified Business Number records, outstanding work and unassigned workloads.

Coverage Error - The Business Register is largely based on the Business Number (BN) which is collected and assigned by Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). Therefore, the quality of the data is dependent upon the quality of the information submitted by Canadian businesses when applying for their Business Number.


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