Communities Survey

Detailed information for 2005





Record number:


The Communities Survey collects information from a sample of kindergarten children living in selected communities.

Data release - April 6, 2006


The Communities Survey (previously a component of the National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth-Survey (NLSCY)), administered by Statistics Canada under contract to Human Resources and Social Development Canada (HRSDC), collects information about a sample of kindergarten children living in selected communities, using virtually the same questionnaires and the same direct measure instruments that were developed for the NLSCY. Additional data are collected from all senior kindergarten students in the community using the Early Development Indicator (EDI), a questionnaire that was developed and administered by the Canadian Centre for Children at Risk at McMaster University. The project plan involves the linkage of data from these two surveys to create a measure of a child's level of development and potential development in combination with the various biological, social and economic characteristics and risk factors which may influence that child's readiness to learn.

Aggregate data from these two sources are further supplemented by information from an Ethnographic Study. This aspect of the project consists of community based coalitions set up in selected communities across Canada, which have been formed to study and map the resources available to parents and young children in the community.

The data is analyzed by HRSDC and researchers under contract to them. HRSDC is sponsoring "Understanding the Early Years (UEY)", a national research initiative designed to:
- increase knowledge about what influences healthy child development,
- monitor our progress as a society in terms of improving outcomes for young children, and
- catalyze community action.

In the first year (2000), all three components of the UEY project -- the EDI, the Communities Survey and the Ethnographic Study -- are completed. During years two, three and four (2001 to 2003), only the EDI component is implemented for kindergarten (or equivalent) children. In years five and six (2004 and 2005), all three components are completed once more. Note that the Communities Survey follow-up, implemented in year five (2004), is not administered to the same sample of children as in year one (2000). Instead, the follow-up survey is completed with a new sample of kindergarten (or equivalent) children since it is the community itself rather than the children in the community which is our main interest. Likewise, the 2005 survey did a follow-up of communities first surveyed in 2001, but with a different sample of senior kindergarten children.

In 1999, North York, Ontario was the first community to be involved in this initiative as a pilot project. In the spring of 2000, another five communities (Coquitlam, British Columbia; Prince Albert, Saskatchewan; Winnipeg, Manitoba; Southwestern Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island) took part in this project. Of the five communities that were surveyed in 2000, only four were followed up in 2004 (Prince Albert, Winnipeg, Southwestern Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island). In 2001 and 2005, the seven communities of Abbotsford, British Columbia, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, South Eastman, Manitoba, Niagara Falls, Ontario, Mississauga, Ontario, Montreal, Quebec and Hampton, New Brunswick were surveyed.

The Communities Survey provides information for governments, researchers, educators, health and social service professionals and community organizations to improve the potential for living healthy, active lives.

Collection period: January to May


  • Child development and behaviour
  • Children and youth
  • Education
  • Health and well-being (youth)

Data sources and methodology

Target population

The target population for each community is all children enrolled in senior kindergarten in the fall and are still attending a school within the community in the winter of the school year.

Instrument design

The Communities Survey was designed to follow an ecological or holistic approach to measuring child development. The survey captures the diversity and dynamics of the factors affecting children. To ensure that all relevant topic areas affecting child development were adequately addressed by the survey, a multidisciplinary consultation was carried out at the inception of the survey. The selection of specific subject areas, priorities and survey questions was very much a group effort with input and advice from:

- the National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth expert advisory group (EAG), that consists of researchers in the area of child development and the social sciences;
- federal departments;
- representatives from the provinces and territories responsible for child development programs.


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

The sampling unit for the Communities Survey is the child. The frame, which consisted of a list of all the children registered in senior kindergarten, was provided by the school boards in the seven participating communities.

When selecting the sample for the seven participating communities, Statistics Canada was provided with a frame of 9,807 potential children from which to select. A quality assessment of the frame was conducted prior to sample selection which included the removal of duplicate records and updating missing, incomplete or inconsistent information. A systematic random sample of children was selected from the lists, which were ordered by school and postal code, and information about the sampled individuals was obtained for interviewing. In three of the seven participating communities all the children were selected to be interviewed as the population of children in those communities was under or close to 700. The initial sample allowed for a certain percentage of sampled units to be out-of-scope for the survey (for instance children who were enrolled in kindergarten within the community in the fall of 2004 but who were no longer enrolled during the Communities Survey household interview period). It should also be noted that certain children who were attending a school within the community during the household interview period but who were not enrolled in the school in the fall of 2004 could not be included in the sample and are not accounted for during estimation.

Data sources

Data collection for this reference period: 2005-02-01 to 2005-06-30

Responding to this survey is voluntary.

Data are collected directly from survey respondents.

Data collection for the surveyed communities took place between February and June of 2005. Household data collection was carried out from February to April by Statistics Canada interviewers using a computer-assisted telephone interview (CATI) application. Interviewers contacted the child's parents and conducted interviews by telephone. Field interviewers then went into the schools in May and June to administer the direct measures portion of the survey to those children whose parents had provided consent. The Early Development Indicator (EDI) was completed in the school by teachers between January and March.

In September 2004, school boards in each community received a letter which described the Understanding the Early Years (UEY) project. The letter explained the procedures that would be followed and asked school boards for their cooperation in providing Statistics Canada with kindergarten class list information in order to create a survey frame from which to draw a sample of children.

Introductory letters were also mailed to the teachers and principals of the schools involved to solicit their cooperation, as well as to the parents of all kindergarten children in the school board. Parents were informed that their child might be selected to participate in the Communities Survey, and they were asked to sign a permission slip that would allow their child to participate in the direct measures assessment in the event that the child was, in fact, selected.

Statistics Canada then selected a random sample of children from the kindergarten class list. A follow-up letter was mailed to the parents of the selected children explaining when they could expect to receive a call from an interviewer. Telephone interviews began in early February, 2005 and parents were asked to confirm verbally whether they gave permission for their child to participate in the direct measures assessment. Statistics Canada interviewers also asked permission of parents to share the survey data with Human Resources and Social Development Canada, and to link the results of the survey to the results from the EDI.

In May and June, Statistics Canada interviewers went to the schools to administer the direct measures assessment to the children whose parents had provided either written or verbal consent. Kindergarten teachers completed the EDI questionnaire for each student in his/her class (with the exception of those for whom there was no parental consent) between the months of January and March.

Please refer to Chapter 6.0 (Data Collection) of the User Guide for detailed information.

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

Error detection

Responses to survey questions are captured directly by the interviewer at the time of the interview using a computerized questionnaire. The computerized questionnaire reduces processing time and costs associated with data entry, transcription errors and data transmission. The response data are encrypted to ensure confidentiality and sent via modem to the appropriate Statistics Canada Regional Office. From there they are transmitted over a secure line to Ottawa for further processing.

Some editing is done directly at the time of the interview. Where the information entered is out of range (too large or small) of expected values, or inconsistent with the previous entries, the interviewer is prompted, through message screens on the computer, to modify the information. However, for some questions interviewers have the option of bypassing the edits, and of skipping questions if the respondent does not know the answer or refuses to answer. Therefore, the response data are subjected to further edit and imputation processes once they arrive in Head Office.

The first stage of survey processing undertaken at Head Office was the replacement of any "out-of-range" values on the data file with blanks. This process was designed to make further editing easier.

The first type of error treated was errors in questionnaire flow, where questions which did not apply to the respondent (and should therefore not have been answered) were found to contain answers. In this case a computer edit automatically eliminated superfluous data by following the flow of the questionnaire implied by answers to previous, and in some cases, subsequent questions.

The second type of error treated involved a lack of information in questions which should have been answered. For this type of error, a non-response or "not-stated" code was assigned to the item.


Imputation is the process whereby missing or inconsistent items are "filled in" with acceptable values. In the Communities Survey, imputation is carried out for certain variables in the adult Income Section.

Imputation was done using a nearest neighbour approach. This method first identifies a respondent to the Income Section (a donor) who has similar characteristics as the individual or household with incomplete income data (the recipient). Once the nearest neighbour has been identified, the income amounts reported by the donor are used to impute the missing income amounts for the recipient. Two types of imputation were done. First the three sources of personal income for the person most knowledgeable (PMK) and the spouse were imputed. The remaining variables were imputed at the household level.

Household level imputation was done in one of three ways. For households that provided an estimate of household income, this estimate was used to help determine the donor. For households that provided an estimate of household income in ranges, the value of the range was used to help determine the donor. If there was no additional income information, then only other household variables, for example province, were used. The imputation flags provide information on how the imputation was done.

Please refer to Section 4.5 (Income Imputation) of the User Guide for detailed information.


The principle behind estimation in a probability sample is that each person in the sample "represents", besides himself or herself, several other persons not in the sample. The weighting calculates the number of individuals in the population represented by a record

For each community, every respondent was given equal weight since sampling was done randomly with equal probability of selection. The weight for each respondent simply corresponds to the ratio of the population size to the sample size. This value was adjusted to take into account the non-respondents and the out-of-scope units within the sample.

By summing the weights of each respondent in a community, an estimate of the actual population size is measured for that community. Thus this final estimated number represents the number of children who were enrolled in kindergarten in this community in September 2004 and were still enrolled during the collection period.

Quality evaluation

For four of the seven communities (South Eastman, Abbotsford, Saskatoon and Montreal) the estimates derived from this survey are based on a sample of children. Somewhat different figures might have been obtained if a complete census had been taken using the same questionnaire, interviewers, supervisors, processing methods, etc. as those actually used in the survey. The difference between the estimates obtained from the sample and those resulting from a complete count taken under similar conditions is called the sampling error of the estimate.

In the case of the remaining three communities (Hampton, Mississauga and Niagara Falls) a complete census of kindergarten children was taken. In these cases there is no sampling error.

Considerable time and effort was made to reduce non-sampling errors in the survey. Quality assurance and control methods were implemented according to Statistics Canada's standard practices at each step of the data collection and processing cycle to monitor the quality of the data. These measures included the use of highly skilled interviewers, extensive training of interviewers with respect to the survey procedures and questionnaire and using edit rules designed to detect missing, invalid or inconsistent data.

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.

It should be noted that no public use microdata file was produced by Statistics Canada and data will not be made available through the Data Liberation Initiative (DLI).

Revisions and seasonal adjustment

This methodology does not apply to this survey.

Data accuracy

The overall response rate for the 2005 Communities Survey was 82.9%.

Please refer to Section 9.1 (Response Rates) of the User Guide for detailed information.


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