Northern Canada Internet Use Survey (NCIUS)

Detailed information for 2021





Record number:


The purpose of this survey is to better understand the impact of the Internet and other digital technologies on the daily lives of Canadians residing in the Territories. The survey collects information about the quality and reliability of your household Internet connection. The data can be used to help us understand gaps in services and barriers that are unique to remote communities.

Data release - May 18, 2022


The 2021 Northern Canada Internet Use Survey (NCIUS) aims to measure the impact of the Internet and other digital technologies on the daily lives of individuals 16 years of age and older living in the Canadian Territories. 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 NCIUS collects information about Internet access, such as the quality and reliability of household Internet connections in the North. The survey also measures Internet use including; various Internet activities, online shopping, online work, the importance of the Internet to do daily activities, and the use of digital technologies during COVID-19 pandemic. The NCIUS also identifies barriers to Internet access and use, online services, and use of 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:

- Inform the Universal Broadband Fund and guide government efforts to provide households with more reliable and affordable high-speed Internet,
- Understand gaps in service and barriers that are unique to remote communities,

- Better understand if individuals in the territories rely on online services, like online shopping, e-government, and

- 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 Canadian Internet Use Survey (CIUS) which measures the adoption and use of digital technologies by individual residents of Canada 15 years of age and over, living in the provinces. The CIUS was last conducted in 2020. The NCIUS comprises of a subset of questions from the CIUS and has been updated/modified to collect data to meet data needs and ensure relevance and applicability in the Northern Territories.

The 2021 iteration of the NCIUS is sponsored by Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED), with input from other government departments and Northern focal points 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 of the NCIUS is the same as the Labour Force Survey (LFS), namely the civilian, non-institutionalised population 16 years of age and over whose usual place of residence is one of many communities in the three territories covered by the LFS. Therefore, the following groups of peoples are excluded from the survey: 1) residents living outside the communities included in the survey; 2) people who work in the North but whose usual place of residence is outside the three territories; 3) people living in institutions (e.g., penal institutions, hospitals, nursing homes) for six months or longer; and 4) full-time members of the Canadian Armed Forces.

Instrument design

NCIUS is a live supplement to the LFS in the North. Development of the 2021 iteration drew heavily from the concepts and survey content of the 2020 Canadian Internet Use Survey (CIUS) conducted in the ten provinces.

Qualitative testing was carried out by Statistics Canada's Questionnaire Design Resource Centre (QDRC) for the survey questionnaire. Remote WebEx interviews were conducted with 25 participants in three territories (Whitehorse, Yellowknife, Iqaluit) between September 21 and September 30, 2020.

The questionnaire follows standard practices and wording used in a computer-assisted interviewing environment, such as the automatic control of flows that depend upon answers to earlier questions and the use of edits to check for logical inconsistencies and capture errors. The computer application for data collection was tested extensively.


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

One person is selected at random from a household. The sampling unit is the person.

The LFS in the North follows a quarterly sampling design. Each three consecutive months have three independent and mutually exclusive monthly samples. The data from any three consecutive months need to be combined to get a representative sample of the target population. The data collection period is six months covering 2021-07-18 to 2021-12-24.

The LFS uses a stratified area frame to draw its sample in order to maximize the reliability of the estimates while keeping collection costs at a minimum.

The sample is spread amongst eight rotating panels. A household remains in the sample for two years for a total of eight interviews. If a household was first selected for the month of January 2020, it will be interviewed again every three months (e.g., April, July, and October 2020, followed by January, April, July and October 2021). After the eighth interview, the household is replaced by another household from the same community or from another community in the same stratum. Each quarter, the one eighth of the sampled households are experiencing their last interview and are then eligible to participate in the NCIUS. For the NCIUS, we select a member of the household at random and then asked them to participate in the survey.

About 2000 households were invited to participate in the NCIUS. The overall response rate was 25%.

Data sources

Data collection for this reference period: 2021-07-18 to 2021-12-24

Responding to this survey is voluntary.

Data are collected directly from survey respondents and derived from other Statistics Canada surveys.

Survey operations are conducted by Statistics Canada staff. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, first contact was usually done in person (interviewers were flown in from the South). During the pandemic, most interviews are done over the phone where possible. NCIUS interviews are conducted by telephone by interviewers, using the computer assisted telephone interviewing method.

In each dwelling, information about the household Internet connection can be obtained from the LFS respondent if the NCIUS respondent is not available at the moment of the interview. Following the household Internet connection questions, the selected respondent for NCIUS is asked to complete the individual based questions about use of various online services and behaviors online.

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

Error detection

There are few edits in the NCIUS questionnaire. For a few questions, if a respondent entered an unexpected value, a message appeared asking the respondent to confirm their response.

Edits to the survey data occurred at the following data processing steps: Cleanup, Recode, Flow edits, Coding and Consistency edits.

Cleanup: The transmitted questionnaires were combined to create the "raw" survey file. The raw file was reviewed and duplicate records were eliminated. Records that were out of scope were also removed. For NCIUS, one record was dropped.

Recode: Before this step, questions the respondent didn't answer had a blank. The blanks were replaced with values ending in 6 (6, 96, 996, etc.) or 9 (9, 99, 999, etc.). A 6 signifies a 'Valid Skip' , or question a respondent didn't get because of the survey design. A 9 value means 'Not Stated ' (NS), i.e. the respondent chose not to answer. Also, text fields (i.e. the other specify responses) were stripped off this file and written to a separate one to be used at the Coding step.

Flow edits: The variables that were blank and assigned a 6 or 9 were verified by subject matter.

Coding: The other specify text fields were reviewed by subject matter and were: recoded to pre-existing response categories of that question, recoded to a created post-collection response category of that question or left as 'Other Specify'.

Consistency edits: Responses for related questions were compared to each other to ensure they were consistent. For example, the variable Age minus the number of years worked in the federal public service should be no less than 16. If that is the case, then the variable Age is set to 'NS'. Also, extreme values (values that are too low or too high to be considered to be a reasonable response) were set to 'NS'.


This methodology does not apply.


When there are people who were invited to participate in the survey but did not respond, the principle behind estimation is that each respondent represents (in addition to himself/herself) the other people not responding. For example, if we obtain a 50% response rate, each person in the sample represents two people. The number of persons represented by a given respondent is usually known as the weight or weighting factor.

NCIUS is a survey of individuals and the analytic files contain questionnaire responses and associated information from the respondents.

A weighting factor is available on the microdata file and is called WTPM. This is the basic weighting factor for analysis at the person level, i.e. to calculate estimates of the persons having one or several given characteristics.

In addition to the estimation weights, bootstrap weights have been created for the purpose of design-based variance estimation.

Quality evaluation

As the data are based on a sample of persons, they are subject to sampling error. That is, estimates based on a sample will vary from sample to sample, and typically they will be different from the results that would have been obtained from a complete census. More precise estimates of the sampling variability of estimates can be produced with the bootstrap method using bootstrap weights that have been created for this survey. The bootstrap method was used to estimate the sampling variability.

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.

In order to prevent any data disclosure, confidentiality analysis is done using the Statistics Canada Generalized Disclosure Control System (G-Confid). G-Confid is used for primary suppression (direct disclosure) as well as for secondary suppression (residual disclosure). Direct disclosure occurs when the value in a tabulation cell is composed of or dominated by few enterprises while residual disclosure occurs when confidential information can be derived indirectly by piecing together information from different sources or data series.

Revisions and seasonal adjustment

This methodology type does not apply to this statistical program.

Data accuracy

Estimates of the sampling variability of estimates can be produced with the bootstrap method using bootstrap weights that have been created for this survey. The bootstrap method was used to estimate the sampling variability for all of the estimates.

When publishing NCIUS estimates, we encourage the use of quality ratings based on the number of responses (denoted by n) contributing to the calculation of the estimate:

- n >= 80: Acceptable estimate (A);
- 40 <= n < 80: Marginal estimate, with cautionary note (E);
- n < 40: Too unreliable to be published (F).

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