Canadian Internet Use Survey (CIUS)

Detailed information for 2005




Every 2 years

Record number:


The Canadian Internet Use Survey (CIUS) measures the extent and scope to which individual Canadians use the Internet.

Data release - August 15, 2006, excluding electronic commerce (E-commerce); November 1, 2006, E-commerce: Internet Shopping


The Canadian Internet Use Survey (CIUS) measures the extent and scope to which individual Canadians use the Internet. Survey content includes the location of use (e.g., at home, at work), the frequency and intensity of use, the specific uses of the Internet from the home, the purchase of products and services (electronic commerce), and other issues related to Internet use (such as language of use and concerns over privacy). This content is supplemented by information on individual and household characteristics (e.g., age, income, education, family type) and some geographic detail (e.g. province, urban/rural, and CMA).

The Canadian Internet Use Survey results are widely disseminated to a variety of users. All levels of government can use CIUS to shape policies and programmes related to the Internet (i.e. uptake and barriers, high speed access, Government on-line and other communication initiatives) and electronic commerce. Also, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) uses the results for international benchmarking and comparison studies.

The CIUS data support a wide range of research initiatives. In academia, micro data are made available to students and researchers within universities and colleges under the Data Liberation Initiative. The survey results are also used in the private sector for market research, as well as for consultation on regulatory issues related to the internet. Finally, the results of the CIUS are widely quoted in the media reflecting a high level of interest in the Internet and its users.

The CIUS replaces the Household Internet Use Survey (HIUS, see Summary of changes over time), conducted from 1997 to 2003, which focused on household Internet penetration. The new survey was redesigned to focus more on Internet use by individuals and to conform to international standards regarding Internet statistics. Because CIUS collects information from the individual and HIUS was based on the household, it is not appropriate to directly compare results from 2005 with previous surveys.

Statistical activity

Science and technology (S&T) and the information society are changing the way we live, learn and work. The concepts are closely intertwined: science generates new understanding of the way the world works, technology applies it to develop innovative products and services and the information society is one of the results of the innovations.

People are looking to Statistics Canada to measure and explain the social and economic impacts of these changes.

The purpose of this Program is to develop useful indicators of S&T activity in Canada based on a framework that ties them together in a coherent picture.

Reference period: 12 months prior to collection date


  • Individual and household internet use
  • Information and communications technology

Data sources and methodology

Target population

The target population is residents of Canada 18 years of age or older excluding: Residents of the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut, Inmates of Institutions, Persons living on Indian Reserves, and Full time members of the Canadian Armed Forces.

Instrument design

The survey design is based on the OECD's Working Party on Indicators for the Information Society model survey adapted for Canadian needs. The questionnaire was designed by Statistics Canada in consultation with stakeholders and in consideration of the data needs of the larger research and policy communities.

Testing of the questionnaire instrument was done in two phases by Statistics Canada's Questionnaire Design Research Centre (QDRC) using focus group methodology in the latter part of 2003. A total of 13 focus group consultations along with a number of one-on-one interviews were conducted in both English and French by the QDRC in 8 cities across the country.

The questionnaire was designed to follow standard practices and wording, when applicable, in 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 on-line edits to check for logical inconsistencies and gross capture errors. The computer application for data collection was subjected to extensive modular and end-to-end testing before its use in the survey.


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

The CIUS was administered to a sub-sample of the individuals already selected for the Labour Force Survey (LFS), record number 3701. The LFS uses a stratified, multi-stage cluster design employing probability sampling at all stages to select a representative sample of households from Canada's ten provinces, excluding persons living on Indian Reserves, full-time members of the Canadian Armed Forces and inmates of institutions. Every month, one-sixth of the LFS sample is replaced by a new "birth" panel of dwellings.

The CIUS sample begins with the households from the five non-birth panels from the LFS. When contact is made with the households selected by the CIUS, the computer survey application randomly selects one eligible member, 18 years of age or older. The final sample size of 30,466 reflects a 70.7% response rate by the individuals invited to participate in the CIUS.

Data sources

Data collection for this reference period: 2005-11-13 to 2005-12-06

Responding to this survey is voluntary.

Data are collected directly from survey respondents.

In almost all cases, the LFS interview will have been completed by a responsible member of the household before the CIUS interview will begin. This individual generally provides the LFS responses for all household members. In any given month's collection, about 65% of the information collected for the LFS can be proxy responses, provided on behalf of another household member.

Following the LFS interview, the interviewer will ask to speak to the individual selected for the CIUS. Depending on this person's availability and operational constraints, over 30% of the CIUS interviews were completed at the same time as the corresponding LFS interview. Because the CIUS is a non-proxy survey, only the person randomly selected for the CIUS can answer the questionnaire. Interviewers routinely ask for and record the best time to call back in order to complete the interview, and the automated call scheduler manages follow-up calls in order to try different times of day throughout the collection period.

More than 91% of interviews were conducted from Statistics Canada's regional offices using a Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI) application. For various reasons, not solely restricted to the lack of telephone service, local interviewers needed to contact in person some sampled households in order to obtain their responses. The field visits are made with a laptop computer running a Computer Assisted Personal Interviewing (CAPI) application.

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

Error detection

The CIUS questionnaire incorporates many features to maximise the quality of the data collected. There are multiple edits in the computer assisted interview questionnaire to compare the entered data against unusual values for incomes and for on-line expenditures. Other edits check for logical inconsistencies in these sections of the questionnaire (e.g., personal income greater than household income) as well as in other sections with multiple choice responses. When an edit fails, the interviewer is prompted to correct the information (with the help of the respondent). For most of the income and expenditure edit failures, the interviewer has the ability to override the edit failure if it cannot be resolved. As well, the interviewer has the ability to enter a response of Don't Know or Refused if the respondent does not answer the question.

Once the data are received back at head office an extensive series of processing steps is undertaken to examine each record received. A top-down flow edit cleaned up any paths that may have been mistakenly followed during the interview. The editing and imputation phases of processing identify logically inconsistent or missing information items, and correct such errors related to incomes and on-line expenditures (for example, the amount spent on goods and services from companies in Canada is greater than the total amount spent on-line).

In an additional step, suspiciously large reported values for personal or household incomes and the number of Internet orders or their value are identified as "outliers". These few records were treated by replacing the suspicious values by ones from respondents with similar demographic characteristics in the imputation step of processing.


Imputation is the process that supplies valid values for those variables that have been identified as either invalid or missing from a respondent's record on the data file. The new values are supplied in such a way as to preserve the underlying structure of the data and to ensure that the resulting records will pass all required edits. Imputation was limited in the CIUS to item non-response for household and personal incomes and for the number of orders and their value for e-commerce spending (from Canadian companies and in total). Imputation was done by the Impudon software using a nearest-neighbour method which searches for "donor" records from individuals with complete and consistent values. The recipient records are imputed by a donor chosen from a group of records with similar demographic characteristics. In the case of income, LFS data on the usual weekly earnings for a recipient and his household (when available) were used to select the donor with the most similar values.

In total, over 19,000 respondents (63%) were eligible donors having reported both household and personal incomes. Respondents who did not provide a dollar estimate of their incomes were asked a series of questions in order to derive an income range. Almost 4,500 respondents (15%) did not provide any information on their incomes. The reported income ranges and the missing income information were imputed by the donor values in a series of steps, depending on the information available for other variables involved in forming the imputation groups. In a final step, all incomes, reported or imputed, were converted to quartile, quintile and decile categories for the purposes of analysis.


Estimates are produced using weights attached to each sampled unit, or individual. The weight of a sampled individual indicates the number of people in the population that the unit represents. The initial weight was provided by the LFS and incorporated the probability of selecting the individual in their sample, as well as other adjustments such as the treatment of non-response to the LFS.

A first adjustment was made to the initial weight to reflect that only a sub-sample (i.e., 5 of 6 panels) of the LFS was used. A second adjustment was done to account for the selection of a single household member, 18 years of age or older. The third adjustment started with this interim weight for the sampled individual, and inflated it to represent the non-respondents who did not participate in the CIUS but who did in the LFS. All units selected for the CIUS were modelled using a logistic regression to calculate their propensity to respond. This probability was used to group records into clusters. The inverse of the observed response rate in each cluster was used as the adjustment factor. The fourth adjustment used Generalized regression (GREG) estimation to calibrate the CIUS weights - matching the age-sex distributions for each province and the population counts for several CMAs. These population projections were taken from the same totals used in the LFS. The final CIUS person-weight is the outcome of these four adjustments to the initial LFS sub-weight.

The quality of the estimates is assessed using estimates of their coefficient of variation (CV). Given the complexity of the CIUS design, CVs cannot be calculated using a simple formula. Bootstrap replicate weights were used to establish the CVs of the estimates.

Quality evaluation

A comparison of social and demographic domains from CIUS was made with previous surveys to ensure consistency. Subject matter experts made selective data confrontations with other data sources (e.g. the General Social Survey, record number 4505 and the Survey of Household Spending, record number 3508) and with information from regulatory agencies (e.g. the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission) and international organizations (e.g. OECD).

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. 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.

The "Public Use Microdata File" differs in a number of important respects from the survey "Master File" held by Statistics Canada. These differences are the result of actions taken to protect the anonymity of individual survey respondents. Users requiring access to information excluded from the micro data files may purchase custom tabulations. Estimates will be released subject to meeting the guidelines for analysis and maintenance of confidentiality.

The survey Master File includes geographic identifiers for province, urban versus rural and selected Census Metropolitan Areas. If the Public Use Microdata Files contains any sub-provincial geography, other variables are by necessity suppressed or collapsed to ensure respondent confidentiality. Tabulations of these fields are possible at Statistics Canada on a cost recovery basis and subject to maintaining respondent confidentiality.

Revisions and seasonal adjustment

This methodology does not apply to this survey.

Data accuracy

The coverage error of the Labour Force Survey, of which the CIUS is a sub-sample, is estimated at less than 2%. The exclusion of households in which no member is 18 years old or over is considered negligible.

The response rate for this survey was 70.7%. A rate of 71.0% was obtained for units selected into the CATI portion and 68.3% in the CAPI portion. Provincial response rates ranged from 66.4% to 74.1%.

The results estimated from CIUS are based on a sample of Canadians. The results obtained from asking the same questions of all Canadians would differ to some known extent. The extent of this sampling error is quantified by the coefficient of variation (CV) with the following guidelines:

- 16.5% and below Acceptable;
- 16.6% to 33.3% Marginal, with cautionary note; and
- Above 33.3% Unacceptable estimate.

Estimates that do not meet an acceptable level of quality are either flagged for caution or suppressed. CV tables are prepared by Statistics Canada and made available to help users understand the quality of individual estimates. Coefficient of variations for the estimated proportion of Internet users (a key survey variable) for Canada and the provinces are as follows:

CA 0.54%
NL 3.04%
PE 2.92%
NS 1.97%
NB 2.64%
QC 1.31%
ON 0.95%
MB 1.94%
SK 1.56%
AB 1.36%
BC 1.60%


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