Canadian Internet Use Survey (CIUS)

Detailed information for 2020





Record number:


The purpose of the 2020 Canadian Internet Use Survey is to gather data on how digital technologies and the Internet are transforming society, the economy, and the everyday lives of Canadians.

Data release - TBD


The 2020 CIUS aims to measure the adoption and use of digital technologies by individual residents of Canada 15 years of age and over, living in the provinces. The information gathered will help to better understand how the Internet and other digital technologies are changing the way we work, play and interact with others.

The CIUS examines Internet access and use, the use of Internet-connected smart devices and smartphones, social connections in the digital age, the use of government online services, e-commerce, digital skills, security, privacy and the confidence Canadians place on digital technologies, online work and the changes in use of digital tech as a result of COVID-19. The CIUS also measures barriers to: Internet access and use, online services, and using various digital technologies.

Collected data is used to inform evidence-based policymaking, research and program development, and provide internationally comparable statistics on the use of digital technologies. For example, the data of this survey is used to:
- Guide government efforts to provide households with more reliable and affordable high-speed Internet
- Develop policies to protect individuals from online privacy and security risks
- Research the impacts of digital technologies on well-being and new gig-based employment
- Better understand the digital skills needed for learning and the future of work
- Better understand how and why people use online services, like shopping and social media,
- Identify barriers that prevent people from accessing the Internet and making the most of new technology
- Improve online government services and make them more user-friendly
- Contribute to international initiatives, such as the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the OECD Going Digital Project, to help track and compare Canada's digital development.

The survey is built off the previous iteration of the CIUS, last conducted in 2018. The 2020 iteration has been updated to collect data to meet new data needs.

The 2020 iteration of the CIUS is sponsored by Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED). Numerous other government departments also provided input during the questionnaire content development phase.

Reference period: Reference periods vary within the survey and include: "current or regular use", "past month", "past three months" or "past 12 months" preceding the interview date.


  • Individual and household internet use
  • Information and communications technology

Data sources and methodology

Target population

The target population is all persons 15 years of age and older living in the ten provinces of Canada. It excludes full-time (residing for more than six months) residents of institutions.

People living on reserves are not excluded from the survey population, but they are not targeted in the sample. As the CIUS does not collect this characteristic, there is no way to identify whether the respondents, who are selected from a telephone-based frame, reside on a reserve.

Instrument design

The predecessor to the CIUS, the Household Internet Use Survey (HIUS), was first conducted in 1997, and ran annually until 2003. The HIUS focused on household Internet penetration. In 2005, the CIUS replaced the HIUS. The redesign in 2005 focused more on Internet use by individuals, while conforming to international standards regarding statistical indicators for Internet access and use. From 2005 to 2009, the CIUS was conducted biennially.

In 2010, the CIUS was redesigned to meet the measurement needs of Broadband Canada: Connecting Rural Canadians Program sponsored by Industry Canada (now ISED). As a hybrid survey on access and use, the CIUS 2010 and 2012 measured the type, speed and cost of household Internet access and the individual online behaviours of a selected household member.

The 2018 questionnaire CIUS questionnaire was completely redesigned following consultations with clients at ISED (the survey sponsor), other federal departments, experts in the field and other stakeholders. The 2018 survey was no longer a hybrid survey. Instead, it focussed on measuring individual's use of digital technologies, the Internet, and online behaviours including; those related to social media, e-commerce, online government services, online work, digital skills, streaming content and security privacy and trust as it relates to the Internet. The survey also measures household access.

In order to take account of the rapid evolution of Internet-related technologies, the 2020 cycle has been revised to measure new trends. This edition includes additional content in existing modules, questions on well-being in the digital age, the impact of COVID-19 on Internet use and increased demographic variables, such as population group, perceived health, and disability status, to paint an accurate picture of the Canadian population.

To make room for this new content without adding to the response burden of respondents, some questions or modules from the 2018 edition have been rotated out.

Testing of the questionnaire:
Cognitive testing of the questionnaire content of the 2018 iteration was tested in two phases in conjunction with the Questionnaire Design Resource Center based at Statistics Canada in both official languages. The first phase included 24 interviews with potential respondents that concentrated on validating respondents' understanding of concepts, questions, terminology, the appropriateness of response categories and the availability of requested information. The second included 23 respondents to assess the updated questionnaire content (based on the results of the previous round of testing) using mock-up screen shots in an updatable PDF form to simulate an electronic questionnaire (EQ). The test confirmed that respondents could navigate through the EQ application with ease.

To ensure that respondents would be able to respond to the new content and understand the intent of the questions, experts from Statistics Canada's Questionnaire Design Resource Centre performed extensive review of the questionnaire and proposed changes to improve understanding of the statements. Cognitive testing was not conducted for the 2020 questionnaire.


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

The sample for 2018 and 2020 is no longer taken from the Labour Force Survey (LFS) sample, as was done in 2012 and prior.

This survey uses a frame that combines landline and cellular telephone numbers from the Census and various administrative sources with Statistics Canada's dwelling frame. Records on the frame are groups of one or several telephone numbers associated with the same address (or single telephone number in the case a link between a telephone number and an address could not be established). This sampling frame is used to obtain a better coverage of households with a telephone number.

The sample is based on a stratified design employing probability sampling. The stratification is done at the province level. Information is collected from one randomly selected household member aged 15 or older, and proxy responses are not permitted.

Sampling unit:
The CIUS uses a two-stage sampling design. The sampling units are the groups of telephone numbers. The final stage units are individuals within the identified households. Note that the CIUS only selects one eligible person per household to be interviewed.

A field sample of approximatively 45,400 units was used. Among them, about 36,300 had addresses that were attached to the telephone number in the frame, and were sent invitation letters in the mail to complete the electronic questionnaire online. The remaining 9,100 were contacted by telephone to complete the questionnaire with an interviewer.

Data sources

Data collection for this reference period: 2020-10-30 to 2021-03-03

Responding to this survey is voluntary.

Data are collected directly from survey respondents.

Data are collected through an electronic questionnaire or computer assisted telephone interviewing (CATI). No proxy reporting is allowed. The respondent has the choice to respond in French or in English. The average time to complete the survey is estimated at 30-60 minutes.

Invitation letters and reminders, containing secure access code, to complete electronic questionnaires were sent to respondents by mail. Intensive non-response follow-up will be also conducted by CATI.

The collection method is electronic questionnaire with CATI follow-up.

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

Error detection

The metadata will be provided upon release.


The metadata will be provided upon release.


The metadata will be provided upon release.

Quality evaluation

The metadata will be provided upon release.

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.

Revisions and seasonal adjustment

This methodology does not apply to this survey program.

Data accuracy

The metadata will be provided upon release.

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