Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF)

Detailed information for 1997





Record number:


This survey was conducted to provide data on cross-sectional income for the Canadian population and data on low income families in Canada.

Data release - July 26, 1999


This survey was conducted to provide data on cross-sectional income for the Canadian population and data on low income families in Canada. Statistical data were provided to Human Resources Development Canada (HRDC) to evaluate and develop financial and social policies. Central Mortgage and Housing Canada (CMHC) requires the data to determine housing affordability in Canada. Some of the more major clients would be the Department of Finance and Bell Canada.

Starting with 1998 income statistics, the Survey of Labour and Income Dynamics (SLID - Survey 3889) will be used to produce annual cross-sectional income estimates in addition to longitudinal labour and income data. Integration of the cross-sectional and longitudinal income statistics programs will promote consistency among income estimates, lower the cost of the income statistics program and reduce the respondent reporting burden.

Results from SLID and the SCF have been compared in detail to assess the differences and the impact on time-series consistency. Essentially, the two surveys tell the same story with respect to low income and income distribution.

Reference period: Calendar year prior to survey

Collection period: End of April to Early May


  • Household, family and personal income
  • Income, pensions, spending and wealth
  • Low income and inequality

Data sources and methodology

Target population

All individuals in Canada, excluding residents of the Yukon, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut, residents of institutions and persons living on Indian reserves. Overall, these exclusions amount to less than 3 percent of the population.


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

Data sources

Responding to this survey is voluntary.

Data are collected directly from survey respondents.

With this survey being a supplement annually to the April Labour Force Survey (LFS) (SDDS ID 3701), standard survey operations are carried out in respect to the LFS. In 4/6 of LFS households, income questionnaires were mailed to the households. After the administration of the Labour Force Survey, persons 15 years of age and over were asked questions concerning their labour force experience during the previous year and other demographic data. Respondents then gave detailed income information for the previous calendar year from the mailed out questionnaires that they were asked to complete prior to the computer assisted interview (CAI). In 1997 the income questionnaire asked for the reporting of 20 income components plus 4 income tax/tax credit items for the calendar year 1996. Income estimates are available on the basis of total money income or after tax income.


Individuals who are complete income non-respondents have the entire income record imputed from geographically-nearest respondent records possessing similar characteristics (categorization based on significant variables including family relationship, labour force status, education, weeks worked, etc.). Partial income respondents have some individual income items imputed from similar respondent records while other individual income items such as Old Age Security, are assigned on the basis of their own family/demographic information. Each record is assigned a weight in two steps: a "simple survey weight" is created, based on the universe of the sampling ratio and a compensation for non-response, and a "final weight" is created by applying a ratio estimation procedure to the simple survey weight. This procedure incorporates independent, census-derived control totals of the population by province, age, sex, and subprovincial area.


No preliminary estimates. Final estimates within 6 months of survey. Estimates revised following Census of Population (SDDS ID 3901), commencing with 1986 Census. Revisions are due to using actual population control totals in weighting of survey data, replacing population projections of original weighting (e.g. - original 1991 estimates used population projections from the 1986 Census for weighting. Revised 1991 estimates used actual counts from the 1991 Census for weighting).

Disclosure control

Statistics Canada is prohibited by law from releasing any data which 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. The confidentiality provisions of the Statistics Act override the provisions of any other Act, including the Access to Information Act, to guarantee the confidentiality of reported data of individual respondents. 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.

Data accuracy

Published data are accompanied by estimated sampling errors of average income. Generally, these errors range from a minimum of 0.5 - 1.5% of the mean for the major universes published (individuals, families, unattached individuals) to approximately 5% for some small subgroups of the population. Another way of evaluating quality is pursued by reconciling survey estimates by component to National Account aggregates that have been adjusted for conceptual and coverage differences. In total comparable money income components in the survey account for approximately 100% of the corresponding National Account aggregates. A summary of this reconciliation is contained in catalogue no. 13-207 and a detailed statement is included in the public use micro data documentation.

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