Survey of the Couriers and Local Messengers Industry

Detailed information for 2008





Record number:


The purpose of this survey is to collect the financial and operating/production data needed to develop national and regional economic policies and programs.

Data release - February 4, 2010 (The reference year 2008 is the final release of the Survey of the Couriers and Local Messengers Industry as the survey has been discontinued.)


The survey results represent fiscal year estimates of financial and operating statistics for the Canadian Couriers and Local Messengers industry.

Classified under the North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS) code 492, this industry comprises establishments primarily engaged in providing national / international courier delivery services as well as messenger and delivery services of small parcels within a single urban area. The type and size of parcels carried, the speed of delivery and premium services such as guaranteed delivery and track and trace service, are the main features of their activities.

Results from this survey provide information on the major categories of revenue and expenses as well as information on the volume of business, origin and destination of shipments and number of vehicles in service.

These results contribute to national and provincial / territorial economic production estimates in Canada. They are also used by private sector businesses for industry performance measurement and market development.

Statistical activity

The survey is administered as part of the Unified Enterprise Survey program (UES). The UES program has been designed to integrate, gradually over time, the approximately 200 separate business surveys into a single master survey program. The UES aims at collecting more industry and product detail at the provincial level than was previously possible while avoiding overlap between different survey questionnaires. The redesigned business survey questionnaires have a consistent look, structure and content. The unified approach makes reporting easier for firms operating in different industries because they can provide similar information for each branch operation. This way they avoid having to respond to questionnaires that differ for each industry in terms of format, wording and even concepts.

This statistical activity is part of a set of surveys measuring various aspects of activities related to the movement of people and goods. These surveys are grouped as follows:

Transportation by air includes records related to the movement of aircraft, passengers and cargo by air for both Canadian and foreign air carriers operating in Canada as well as the financial and operating characteristics of Canadian air carriers. These data are produced by the Aviation Statistics Centre.

Transportation by rail includes records relating to rail transportation in Canada, and between the United States and Canada.

Transportation by road includes records relating to all road transport in Canada. In addition to surveying carriers and owners of registered motor vehicles, certain programs rely on aggregation of provincial and territorial administrative records.

Reference period: Fiscal year


  • Transportation
  • Transportation by road

Data sources and methodology

Target population

All carriers and owner-operators classified to the couriers and local messengers industry.

Instrument design

Complete questionnaire design was undertaken for the first time with the 1997 survey and reviewed in details with the 1999 survey. Major users and major respondents were consulted.

This questionnaire satisfies the statistical requirements of national accounts for financial information and the statistical requirements of Transportation departments, businesses and associations for both financial and operating information.


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

The sampling unit used in the probability survey is the establishments of one enterprise that operate in the same industry and the same province. The sampling unit can be called a "cluster of establishments".

Two sources of data were used to derive the estimates:

. a probability sample survey of couriers and local messengers establishments with an annual gross business revenue above survey thresholds,

. taxation data to estimate for businesses with annual gross business revenue below survey thresholds.

Of the total 2,244 establishments above survey thresholds, 672 establishments were selected in the sample for 2008. The overall sampling rate was at 30 %.

Data sources

Data collection for this reference period: 2009-02-15 to 2009-09-15

Responding to this survey is mandatory.

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

Questionnaires were mailed to establishments selected in the sample and identified as employers on the Business Register. Tax records were used for establishments selected in the sample and identified as non-employers (mostly self-employed owner-operators).

In addition to the mail-out / mail-back questionnaire approach, the survey was also conducted using Computer Assisted Telephone Interviews (CATI) for data collection, capture, edit and follow-up.

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

Error detection

At the collection stage, reported data are examined for completeness and inconsistencies using automated edits coupled with analytical review.


An automated edit and imputation system is used to impute data in cases of refusals, non-response and unable to contact. In addition, there is also a manual analytical review.


The General Estimation System is used to provide estimates for the entire observed population.

In addition, the sampling weights derived from the sample survey design are modified and improved using updated information. This was possible because, during the passage of time since the sample was selected, the Business Register was updated further with more complete information. The final set of weights reflects as closely as possible the changing characteristics of the population in this industry.

The final estimates are derived by combining the survey estimates and the taxation data estimates.

Quality evaluation

Prior to dissemination, combined survey results are analyzed for comparability; in general, this includes a detailed review of individual responses (especially for the largest companies), general economic conditions, historic trends, and comparisons with other data sources.

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. 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.

Standard confidentiality rules are applied to all data appearing in the released tables and on CANSIM. Confidential data are marked with an "X" and related data are suppressed to avoid residual disclosure.

Revisions and seasonal adjustment

Annual estimates are provided for the reference year. The data for the previous reference year are revised if necessary. As this is an annual program, seasonal adjustments are not applicable.

Data accuracy

All surveys are subject to sampling and non-sampling errors. Statistics Canada uses a variety of methods to minimize all types of errors. Efforts were taken through regular frame (Business Register) analysis, appropriate respondent follow-up, adequate imputation models and detailed analysis of the estimates to minimize the non-sampling errors of omission, duplication, reporting and processing.

At the national level, the global weighed response rate for the total revenue estimates, which combines survey data and taxation data, was 88% at the industry level (492). This rate was 90% for couriers (NAICS 4921) and 88% for local messenger services (NAICS 4922).

The quality of the final estimates is measured by a global quality indicator which takes into account the coefficients of variation (CV) and the response rates. View the global quality indicator table below.

Based on this indicator, total revenue estimates for the overall industry (NAICS 492) are judged to be excellent at the national, provincial and territorial levels for 2008. For Couriers (NAICS 4921) the estimates were also judged to be excellent at the national, provincial and territorial levels. For Local Messengers (NAICS 4922), the quality of the estimates was judged to be excellent at the national level and from excellent to good at the provincial and territorial levels.

Overall, the 2008 preliminary estimates are viewed as providing an accurate and reliable portrait of the Couriers and Local Messengers industry in Canada. The global quality indicators are available upon request.

Report a problem on this page

Is something not working? Is there information outdated? Can't find what you're looking for?

Please contact us and let us know how we can help you.

Privacy notice

Date modified: