Finding social science statistics about Canada (and elsewhere)

Finding social science statistics about Canada and elsewhere

Statistics Canada

Statistics Canada - known as "StatsCan",  the best place to start for social, economic, and demographic data about Canada, the provinces and territories, and cities.

  • Census 2021 Postsecondary Research Tool Kit - a guide to help researchers understand what is available and how to use Census data
  • Attached is a slide deck from a presentation by StatsCan staff about how to use the 2016 Immigration, Ethnocultural and Housing data releases. It makes for a good tour generally of the structure of the StatsCan census data reports and website.

Other ways of searching and using Statistics Canada data sets (rather than just the summaries provided by the main website) are the following:

  • CANSIM - CANSIM is Statistics Canada's key socioeconomic database. Updated daily, CANSIM provides fast and easy access to a large range of the latest statistics available in Canada
  • CANSIM via CHASS - A more sophisticated tool for creating data sets from StatsCan data - not available to the public, just through the library subscription
  • NESSTAR Statistics Canada Public Use Microdata Files -  a web-based exploration, extraction and analysis tool for social science data based on StatsCan data.
    • As of January 2022, Statistics Canada has removed NESSTAR due to a secrity vulnerability. A new analytical platform is planned for release in April 2022. Please visit the Statistics Canada site to search their Public use microdata at If you do not find the data you need, contact Kim Mears for access through Statistics Canada’s Electronic File Transfer (EFT).

Government search engine (Google custom search) - use the search box at the top of this page to find all kinds of government reports, many of which include statistics.  It can also be used to search websites of other governements and intergovernmental agencies (like the United Nations), not just Canada.

Statista - a commercial database of statistical summaries on all kinds of topics; not Canada-specific, but some Canadian data

PEI-specific - aside from StatsCan and searching the PEI provincial government websites using the Government search engine, also search the Catalogue for print-format PEI and Atlantic Canada reports from various agencies and non-profit groups.