Canadian Survey on Early Learning and Child Care (CSELCC)

Detailed information for 2023





Record number:


The Canadian Survey on Early Learning and Child Care gathers information from parents and guardians on early learning and child care arrangements for children aged 0 to 5.

Data release - December 5, 2023


The survey asks parents and guardians about the arrangements they use for their child aged 0 to 5, including the associated costs, the difficulties they may have faced when looking for care, and what their preferences for child care are. This survey also collects information on parents' and guardian's labour market participation to better understand the interaction between work and the use of early learning and child care arrangements. Results from this survey will be used to help improve the Canada-wide early learning and child care system and provide Canadians with a strong baseline of data to measure progress and changes to the system.


  • Child care
  • Children and youth

Data sources and methodology

Target population

The target population is children across the 10 provinces of Canada who are less than 6 years old (as of June 10, 2023). Children living on reserves are excluded from the target population.

Instrument design

The content for the Canadian Survey on Early Learning and Child Care electronic questionnaire was drafted in consultation with Statistics Canada's Health Analysis Division, Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC), as well as several external subject matter experts.

The questionnaire underwent cognitive testing in the form of in-depth interviews in both of Canada's official languages, conducted by Statistics Canada's Questionnaire Design Resource Centre. The goal of the qualitative study was to test the survey content.


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

Survey frame
The CSELCC sample was selected from the Canada Child Benefit (CCB).

Sampling unit
This is a targeted respondent survey. The sampling unit is the person knowledgeable about the child care arrangements for a child who lives in their household and is less than 6 years of age.

Stratification method
The frame for the Canadian Survey on Early Learning and Child Care was stratified by province and by the age of the child (in years).

Sampling and sub-sampling
Sufficient sample was allocated to each age group within each of the provinces so that the survey could produce estimates for each age group at the provincial and national level. An initial sample of 62,000 targeted respondents was selected and sent to collection. The selection of a sample unit is done in one stage. First, a list of children under 6 years old whose parent or guardian is a Canada Child Benefit (CCB) recipient is stratified by province and age of the child (as of June 10, 2023). Within each stratum, the list is sorted by city, mailing address, and birth date, and a systematic sample of children is drawn within each stratum. Finally, the CCB recipient corresponding to each selected child is added to the sample file.

Data sources

Data collection for this reference period: 2023-01-23 to 2023-06-10

Responding to this survey is voluntary.

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.


Imputation is a process used to determine and assign replacement values to resolve problems of missing, invalid or inconsistent data. This is done by changing some of the missing values and the responses on the record being edited to ensure that a plausible, internally consistent record is created.

Person-level income in the 2023 CSELCC is imputed for some cases where there are missing values due to either respondent refusal or respondent's lack of knowledge of the income of members of their household. Household income is imputed for all missing cases, which again is due to either respondent refusal or their lack of knowledge. In both cases, missing income values are replaced using a nearest neighbour imputation method based on respondents' survey responses and other administrative data. Consistency edits were also applied to income variables.

For a small number of cases a valid postal code was not stated in the submitted questionnaire. In that situation, the missing values were imputed with the postal code from the sample file.


The estimation of population characteristics from a sample survey is based on the premise that each person in the sample represents a certain number of other persons in addition to themselves. This number is called the 'survey weight'. The process of computing survey weights for each survey respondent involves several steps.

1) Each selected respondent is given an initial weight equal to the inverse of its selection probability from the sampling frame (CCB). Respondents identified as out-of-scope during collection are dropped from the sample.

2) The respondents' weights are then adjusted to account for non-response based on the province, the respondent's age, the age of the respondent's child, household income, the respondent's marital status, and the respondent's CCB eligibility.

3) The person (child) weights are calibrated so that the sum of weights match demographic population counts at the level of province by age.

Variance estimation is based on a re-sampling method called bootstrap estimation.
The Generalized Estimation System from Statistics Canada (G-Est) was used to generate the survey weights and bootstrap weights.

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 survey.

Data accuracy

Survey errors come from a variety of different sources. One dimension of survey error is sampling error. Sampling error is defined as the error that arises because an estimate is based on a sample rather than the entire population. Sampling error can be expressed through a confidence interval (CI) or coefficient of variation (CV).

The following are approximate sampling error estimates for Canada level estimates. These are based on average results; these are not results for a specific variable.
-Approximate length of 95% confidence intervals for a proportion of 50% (Canada level): 1.5%
-Approximate length of 95% confidence intervals for a proportion of 10% (Canada level): 0.9%
-Approximate coefficients of variation a proportion of 10% (Canada level): 2.2%

Response rates:
The response rate for CSELCC 2023 is estimated to be 49.4%

Non-sampling error:
The first type of errors treated were errors in questionnaire flow. For skips based on answered questions, all skipped questions were set to "Valid skip" (6, 96, 996, etc.). For skips based on "Non-response", all skipped questions were set to "Not stated" (9, 99, 999, etc.). The remaining empty items were filled with a numeric value (9, 99, 999, etc., depending on variable length). These codes are reserved for processing purposes and mean that the item was "Not stated".

Non-response bias:
The survey estimates are adjusted to account for non-response through the survey weights. To the extent that the non-responding persons differ from the rest of the sample, the results may be biased.

Coverage error:
Coverage errors arise when there are differences between the target population and the observed population. The target respondent is the person knowledgeable (aged 15 years and older) about the child care arrangements for a child who lives in the household and is less than 6 years old. The survey frame is the Canada Child Benefit (CCB) file and it contains every parent or guardian who is registered to receive a benefit. It is estimated that the frame represents 83% of the target population. To the extent that the excluded population differs from the rest of the target population, the results may be biased. Note that the children born between November 1, 2022 and June 10, 2023 and children born between January 23, 2017 and April 24, 2017 are not covered by the survey frame.

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