Households and the Environment Survey (HES)

Detailed information for 2019




Every 2 years

Record number:


The Households and the Environment Survey (HES) measures the environmental practices and behaviours of Canadian households that relate to the condition of our air, water and soils. The survey was also designed to collect data to develop and improve three key environmental indicators: air quality, water quality and greenhouse gas emissions.

Data release - Scheduled for Fall/Winter 2020 (tentative)


The objective of the survey is to provide context to scientific measures of air and water quality, and greenhouse gas emissions, by gaining a better understanding of household behaviour and practices with respect to the environment.

Since the HES was first conducted in 1991, environmental priorities and concerns have changed for Canadians. The quality of drinking water, the impact of residential pesticide use and the impact of hazardous waste on human health are only some of the newer issues that have moved to the forefront of Canadians' collective consciousness. Changes in environmental practices and behaviours are reflective of these growing concerns. In order to gauge these changes, the HES measures key environmental variables and practices. The survey ran in 1991, 1994, 2006,and every two years between 2007 and 2017. Below is a list of topics that are covered in the 2019 HES.

- Home heating and cooling
- Use of firewood
- Water quality concerns of households
- Consumption and conservation of water
- Consumption and conservation of energy
- Pesticide and fertilizer use on lawns and gardens
- Use of household lawn and garden equipment
- Use of gasoline-powered recreation equipment
- Composting and household hazardous waste disposal practices
- Household interactions with nature
- Purchasing decisions

Statistical activity

The Canadian System of Environmental and Resource Accounts provides a conceptually integrated framework of statistics (in physical and monetary terms) and analysis for studying the relationship between the environment and human and economic activity. It presents detailed statistics describing 1) the size of Canada's natural resource stocks and their contribution to national wealth; 2) the extraction of these same resources and their disposition among businesses, households, governments and the rest of the world; 3) the generation of various wastes (liquid, solid and gaseous) by industries, households and governments and the management of these wastes; and 4) the expenditures made by businesses, households and governments for the purposes of protecting the environment. The accounts are, to the greatest extent possible, compatible with the Canadian System of Macroeconomic Accounts (CSMA). They were developed in response to the need to better monitor the relationship between economic activity and the environment.

Reference period: The calendar year corresponding to the reference year.


  • Environment
  • Families, households and housing

Data sources and methodology

Target population

The target population consists of households in Canada, excluding households located in Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut, households located on reserves and in other Aboriginal settlements in the provinces; and households consisting entirely of full-time members of the Canadian Armed Forces. Institutions and households in certain remote regions are also excluded.

Instrument design

The questionnaire was designed by Statistics Canada in consultation with stakeholders involved in the Canadian Environment Sustainability Indicators project and in consideration of the data needs of both the project and the larger research and policy communities.

The questionnaire was designed to follow standard practices and wording, when applicable, in both self-administered electronic questionnaires and 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 online edits to check for logical inconsistencies and gross capture errors.

The survey instrument used for data collection was subjected to extensive testing before its use in the survey.


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

The sampling unit for the HES is the Household.

The HES sample design is closely tied to that of the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS), which in turn follows the Labour Force Survey (LFS) sampling plan. Except for PEI where Simple Random Sampling (SRS) is done, this plan consists of a multistage stratified cluster design in which the dwelling is the final sampling unit. In the first stage, homogeneous strata (geographic or socio-economic) are created within each province. Within the strata, between 150 and 250 dwellings are grouped together to create clusters. Some urban centres have separate strata for apartments or for census Dissemination Areas (DA) to pinpoint households with high income, immigrants and aboriginal people. Independent samples of clusters were drawn from each stratum. In the second stage, dwelling lists were prepared for each cluster, and dwellings, or households, were selected from the lists.

The CCHS data is collected from people aged 12 years and over living in private dwellings within the ten provinces and three territories. Specifically excluded from the survey's coverage are persons living on reserves and other Aboriginal settlements in the provinces, full-time members of the Canadian Armed Forces, those aged 12 to 17 in foster homes, the institutionalized population and persons living in the Quebec health regions of Région du Nunavik and Région des Terres-Cries-de-la-Baie-James.

The CCHS frame was different for its two target populations. For the group 18 and over, the CCHS used the area frame designed for the LFS as its primary frame. For the group between 12 and 17 years of age, CCHS drew a sample from the Canadian Child Tax Benefit (CCTB) files. The sample allocation strategy gives relatively equal importance to the Health Regions (HR) and the provinces. The estimation objectives were met with a provincial 0.75 power allocation followed by a 0.35 power allocation by size of HR within a province. This was followed by some adjustments for known non-response patterns and out-of-scope rates.

The HES was administered to a sub-sample of dwellings from the first two quarters of 2019 CCHS respondents. The selection was done at the CMA level, and was essentially a take-all in each CMA except for the 7 largest CMAs (Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, and the non-CMA portion of Ontario, Quebec, BC and Alberta).

Data sources

Data collection for this reference period: 2019-10-15 to 2020-01-19

Responding to this survey is voluntary.

Data are collected directly from survey respondents and extracted from administrative files.

The content of the survey focuses on the behaviours and practices of the household relating to the environment. Data are collected directly from a representative of the selected household. The HES is conducted using a combination of self-administered electronic questionnaires and telephone interviews by Statistics Canada's regional offices using a computer-assisted telephone interviewing (CATI) application.

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

Error detection

Not applicable


Not applicable


Not applicable

Quality evaluation

Not applicable

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.

Revisions and seasonal adjustment

This methodology type does not apply to this statistical program.

Data accuracy

Not applicable

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