Survey on Health Care Access and Experiences - Primary and Specialist Care (SHCAE-PSC)

Detailed information for 2024




Every 2 years

Record number:


The purpose of the SHCAE-PSC is to better understand how Canadians navigate the health care system, including challenges or barriers they may face.


This survey covers topics such as the use of and access to primary health care and specialist care, care coordination, barriers to care, prescription medications, and out-of-pocket expenses.

The results may be used by Health Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada, and provincial ministries of health to help inform the delivery of health care services and develop and improve programs and policies to better serve all Canadians.

Reference period: Varies according to the question (for example: "in the past 12 months", "the most recent time", etc.)


  • Health
  • Health care services

Data sources and methodology

Target population

The target population for the SHCAE-PSC is all persons 18 years of age or older living in private residences in the ten provinces of Canada. Excluded are people living in dwellings located on reserves and people living in collective dwellings, such as institutions.

Instrument design

The content for the SHCAE-PSC electronic questionnaire was drafted in consultation with the Public Health Agency of Canada, Health Canada and the Canadian Institute for Health Information.

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.

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.

The SHCAE-PSC sample has a stratified two-stage design. A random sample of private dwellings is selected in each of the ten provinces. In each sampled dwelling, one person is selected from among all residents aged 18 years or older.

Sampling unit:
At the first stage, the sampling unit is a dwelling. At the second stage, the sampling unit is a person.

Stratification method:
Stratification of dwellings is done by province and by the expected number of dwelling residents aged 18 years or older.

Sampling and sub-sampling:
A sample of 75,000 dwellings is selected probabilistically according to the stratified design. Within each dwelling, one person is selected at random to respond to the survey.

Data sources

Data collection for this reference period: 2024-01-03 to 2024-11-03

Responding to this survey is voluntary.

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

Data is collected from survey respondents either through an electronic questionnaire (EQ) directly online or assisted by a Statistics Canada interviewer through CATI (computer assisted telephone interviewing). A letter is mailed to the selected dwelling, which contains a code that gives access to the online questionnaire.

A Statistics Canada interviewer may follow up by calling, emailing, or texting the respondent if a completed online questionnaire is not received within a certain period of time.

Proxy reporting (when a selected respondent is unable to answer for themselves) is allowed, although certain questions may be skipped.

The questionnaire is available in both official languages and can be completed by interview in either English or French. To remove language as a barrier to conducting interviews, each of the Statistics Canada regional offices recruited interviewers with a wide range of language competencies. When necessary, cases are transferred to an interviewer with the language competency needed to complete an interview. The average time to complete the survey is 30 minutes.

The information collected during the 2024 SHCAE-PSC will be linked to the personal tax records (T1, T1FF or T4) of respondents, and tax records of all household members. Household information (address, postal code, and telephone number), respondent's information (social insurance number, surname, name, date of birth/age, sex) and information on other members of the household (surname, name, age, sex and relationship to respondent) are key variables for the linkage.

Respondents are notified of the planned linkage before and during the survey. Any respondents who object to the linkage of their data have their objections recorded, and no linkage to their tax data takes place. Income information obtained from income tax records will also be provided to federal and provincial share partners but only with respondent consent.

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

Date modified: