Survey on Accessibility in Federal Sector Organizations (SAFSO)

Detailed information for 2021





Record number:


The Survey on Accessibility in Federal Sector Organizations will provide data for key indicators related to accessibility within the federal sector. These indicators will establish a baseline of accessibility in priority areas under the Accessible Canada Act.

Data release - August 18, 2021


The SAFSO gathers information about barriers related to accessibility for Canadians aged 15 and older whose daily activities are limited due to a disability, long-term condition or health-related problem.

Information from the SAFSO may be used by all levels of government, as well as associations for persons with disabilities and researchers working in the field of disability. Data may be used to plan and evaluate policies and programs for Canadians with disabilities to help enable their full participation in society. In particular, information on adults with disabilities is essential for the effective development and operation of the Legislated Employment Equity Program and to measure progress under the Accessible Canada Act. Data on disability are also used to fulfill Canada's international agreement relating to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The survey is sponsored by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC).

The survey collects information on barriers experienced within the federal sector related to transportation, information and communication technologies (ICT), and communication.

Data sources and methodology

Target population

The target population for the SAFSO is persons with a disability living in one of the 10 Canadian Provinces who were 15 years of age or older as of May 10, 2016 (Census Day) . The target population excludes persons living on a First Nations reserve, those living in collective dwellings, such as institutions and bases of the Canadian Armed Forces.

The population covered by the SAFSO is composed of a sample of persons aged 15 and over as of May 10, 2016, who participated in the 2017 Canadian Survey on Disability (CSD) and indicated that their daily activities were limited due to one or more difficulties or long-term conditions. This includes only persons living in private dwellings in the 10 provinces at the time of sample selection.

Instrument design

The questionnaire was developed in collaboration with Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC). The EQ application underwent qualitative testing by QDRC in conjunction with the Centre of Expertise in Accessibility (CEA).


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

A simple random sample of respondents to the Canadian Survey on Disability (CSD) and live in the 10 provinces. The CSD used a stratified two-phase design based on the 2016 Census.

Sampling unit
The sampling unit for the SAFSO was the person.

Sampling and sub-sampling
A simple random sample of 20,000 persons were selected from the list of respondents to the CSD who were in-scope for the SAFSO. All 20,000 selected units were sent to collection.

Data sources

Data collection for this reference period: 2021-03-08 to 2021-04-08

Responding to this survey is voluntary.

Data are collected directly from survey respondents.

Data are collected directly from survey respondents either through an electronic questionnaire or through computer assisted telephone interviewing.

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

Error detection

Electronic files containing the daily transmissions of completed respondent survey records were combined to create the "raw" survey file. Before further processing, verification was performed to identify and eliminate potential duplicate records and to drop non-response and out-of-scope records.

In addition, some out-of-scope respondent records were found during the data clean-up stage. All respondent records that were determined to be out-of-scope and those records that contained no data were removed from the data file.

After the verification stage, editing was performed to identify errors and modify affected data at the individual variable level. The first editing step was to identify errors and determine which items from the survey output needed to be kept on the survey master file. Subsequent to this, invalid characters were deleted and the remaining data items were formatted appropriately.


This methodology type does not apply to this statistical program.


The principle behind estimation in a probability sample is that each unit selected in the sample represents, besides itself, other units that were not selected in the sample. For example, if a simple random sample of size 100 is selected from a population of size 5,000, then each unit in the sample represents 50 units in the population.

The SAFSO uses a complex sample design and estimation method, and the survey weights are therefore not equal for all the sampled units. When producing estimates and statistical tables, users must apply the proper survey weights. If proper weights are not used, the estimates derived from the microdata files cannot be considered to be representative of the survey population, and will not correspond to those produced by Statistics Canada.

Since the SAFSO sample was selected from the list of persons who participated in the 2017 CSD and indicated that their daily activities were limited due to one or more difficulties or long-term conditions, the CSD weights were used to calculate the weights for the SAFSO. Starting with the nonresponse adjusted weights and bootstrap weights from the CSD, adjustments were applied to account for SAFSO sample selection and nonresponse. Following the nonresponse adjustment, extreme weights within each province were trimmed. The final step was a post stratification of the SAFSO weights to the CSD estimates of persons with a disability, with the reference period being Census Day 2016. Post-strata were defined by province, age group, sex and severity for each unit at the time of the Census. The term "severity" refers to the three levels of severity used to stratify the CSD based on responses to the six filter questions on Activities of daily living (long form census questionnaire).

Quality evaluation

While rigorous quality assurance mechanisms are applied at all stages of the statistical process, the validation and detailed review of data by statisticians is the ultimate verification of quality prior to release. Many validation measures were implemented, they include:

a. Verification of estimates through cross-tabulations

b. Consultation with stakeholders internal to Statistics Canada

c. Consultation with external stakeholders

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

Since the SAFSO is a sample survey, all estimates are subject to both sampling and non-sampling errors

Non-sampling errors
Non-sampling errors can be defined as errors arising during the course of virtually all survey activities, apart from sampling. These include coverage errors, non-response errors, response errors, interviewer errors, coding errors, and other types of processing errors.

Coverage errors occur when there are differences between the target population and the sampled population (or survey population). Because the SAFSO sample was selected from those who had participated in the 2017 CSD, individuals who did not participate in the CSD could not be sampled for the SAFSO, resulting in undercoverage. If this group of individuals is significantly different than those who participated in the CSD with respect to the characteristics measured in the SAFSO, a bias could be introduced. In addition, due to the passage of time since the selection of the CSD sample, the SAFSO frame will be subject to additional undercoverage due to "births" (disabilities developing in persons not previously disabled, aging population, immigration). Undercoverage on the frame could lead to underrepresentation of the target population and bias the results. Similarly, the SAFSO frame will also be subject to overcoverage due to "deaths" (emigration, deaths, those whose health situation has improved). The impact of overcoverage on the frame is reduced, as this can be determined at the time of collection for resolved units, however some overcoverage may remain for the unresolved units and for those not selected in the sample. Estimates of under and over coverage are not available for the SAFSO. To the extent that our survey frame does not align with our target population, there could be bias in the estimates. Users should take this into account when using the SAFSO data to make inferences on the target population.

Non-response is both a source of non-sampling error and sampling error. Non-response results from a failure to collect complete information from all units in the selected sample. Non-response is a source of non-sampling error in the sense that non-respondents often have different characteristics from respondents, which can result in biased survey estimates if non-response bias is not fully eliminated through weighting adjustments. The lower the response rate, the higher the risk of bias. The response rate for the SAFSO was 48.1%. Attempts were made to reduce the potential nonresponse bias as much as possible through weighting adjustments.

Measurement errors occur when the response provided differs from the real value. Such errors may be attributable to the respondent, the interviewer, the questionnaire or the collection method, for example. For the SAFSO, every effort was made to develop questions that would be understandable, relevant and appropriate for respondents. Other measures were also taken, including the use of skilled interviewers, extensive training of interviewers, and observation and monitoring of interviewers.

Processing errors may occur at various stages, including data capture, coding and editing. Quality control procedures were applied at every stage of data processing to reduce this type of error.

Sampling error
Sampling error is defined as the error that arises because an estimate is based on a sample rather than the entire population. The sampling error for the SAFSO is reported through 95% confidence intervals. The 95% confidence interval of an estimate means that if the survey were repeated over and over again, then 95% of the time (or 19 times out of 20), the confidence interval would cover the true population value. Estimates and confidence intervals flagged with the letter F do not meet Statistics Canada's quality standards, and are suppressed.

A note on reference periods
Since the weights were calibrated to totals from the 2016 Census, estimates of counts and totals for the SAFSO will not reflect the population at the time the survey was conducted, but the target population at the time of the Census. This is important to keep in mind when producing estimates of totals. When working with the data collected and measured from SAFSO in the winter of 2021, the reference period is from January 2019 to the date the survey was taken (between March 8 and April 10, 2021).

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: