Consulting Engineering Services Price Index (CESPI)

Detailed information for 2012





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The Consulting Engineering Services Price Index series (CESPI) is an annual survey of consulting engineers in Canada, collecting financial and wage information that is used to produce price indexes measuring changes in prices for consulting engineer services.

Data release - December 2, 2013


The Consulting Engineering Services Price Index series (CESPI) is an annual survey of consulting engineers in Canada, collecting financial and wage information that is used to produce price indexes measuring changes in prices for consulting engineer services. The CESPI series is a useful indicator of economic activity in the consulting engineering services industry, and can also prove helpful as a supplementary tool for performance evaluation, cost monitoring, contract assessment and benchmark comparisons. In addition, the indexes are used by the Canadian System of National Accounts to arrive at estimates of real value output for the industry through deflation.

Statistical activity

These indexes are a part of the Services Producer Price Index program (SPPI) at Statistics Canada.

The SPPI program develops and produces price indexes for a wide range of business service categories. This initiative fills an important data gap in the area of economic statistics and has resulted in a more comprehensive set of service price indexes. It also allows Statistics Canada to produce more accurate estimates of real value added of the Gross Domestic Product and changes in productivity.

Reference period: The time period for which the CESPI equals 100; currently this is the year 1997.


  • Business, consumer and property services
  • Prices and price indexes
  • Professional, scientific and technical services
  • Service price indexes

Data sources and methodology

Target population

Under the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS), this industry consists of establishments primarily engaged in:

- NAICS 54133 Engineering Services (may involve any of the following activities: the provision of advice, the preparation of feasibility studies, the preparation of preliminary and final plans and designs, the provision of technical services during the construction or installation phase, the inspection and evaluation of engineering projects, and related services).

Instrument design

The questionnaire used for the CESPI was developed and tested in consultation with numerous respondents and experts in the consulting engineering industry.


This is a sample survey with a longitudinal design.

The survey sample is selected from the Statistics Canada Business Register. In the most recent sample, enterprises were grouped by region, sorted by revenue, removing those below the regional income cut-off and selected based on probability proportional to size. These firms are selected so as to ensure that firms in each field of specialization and province will be surveyed.

For the CESPI, the target population consists of all enterprises primarily engaged in consulting engineering services as identified on Statistics Canada's Business Register. The sample size is approximately 500 enterprises.

Data sources

Responding to this survey is mandatory.

Data are collected directly from survey respondents and derived from other Statistics Canada surveys.

The instrument used for data collection is a mail out questionnaire. When respondents are initially contacted, and when completing the questionnaire itself, they are requested to provide the most convenient month in which to complete the survey in the future. During the collection process, contacts with the respondent take place when questionnaires are late or the responses provided require clarification. In the case of late respondents, several follow-up contacts can be made including telephone follow up. The data remains outstanding and collectible for the current calendar year and the previous period. Thus, revisions to the indexes may take place for one period prior to the reference year as late data is received and incorporated.

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

Error detection

A set of systematized error detection procedures are in place to identify outliers and possible reporting errors. For example, a larger than average increase or decrease in the revenue to expense ratio will trigger a follow up with the respondent.


For the preliminary data, estimates are imputed for respondents who were unable to respond on time, provided some unreliable reported values. The imputation is carried out using the mean values for missing observations. Late responses are incorporated in the revised CESPI.



The weights used are a combination of those found on Statistics Canada's Business Register and the breakdown of the enterprises' revenue according to specialization, as reported in the questionnaire. The weights are updated every two years.


The prices collected for the CESPI represent the input costs of labour and the realized profit for the firm. The labour cost is calculated as the weighted average of the firm's wage rates for the year, while the profit portion derived is used to calculate the realized net multiplier. Both of these inputs are then combined to arrive at a total price index.

Quality evaluation

The data is subject to collection and processing validations on all data provided. The indexes are compared with price indices and economic indicators from other industrial areas, especially for industries that utilize consulting engineering services.

Much time and effort is devoted to detecting and following up unusual fluctuations over time in the pricing patterns of goods and services. Prior to dissemination, the price indexes are analyzed and historic trends are reviewed.

Disclosure control

Statistics Canada is prohibited by law from releasing any information it collects which 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.

Collected data are converted to price indexes and data are released as such, so that it is not possible to identify the suppliers of raw prices.

Revisions and seasonal adjustment

The most recent year of published indexes are subject to revision.

Data accuracy

The statistical accuracy of this index depends on price and weight data. Price data are obtained from a sample survey and the weight information is obtained from Statistics Canada's Central Frame Database. Both kinds of input data are subject therefore to their own errors. The quality of the price data rests on the response rate and degree of imputation. In this regard, the quality of the price information is judged to be high, as the response rate is about 67% and the degree of imputation is minimal (i.e. less than 5 %).

Though the CESPI uses a sample survey methodology to obtain the necessary information, confidence intervals are not currently estimated, due to the longitudinal nature of price index series. Indexes for higher and lower levels of aggregation are considered to be statistically reliable.

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