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There is a growing recognition that the actions of households have a major impact on the environment.  The Households and the Environment Survey (HES) is conducted to measure those actions. The HES has been relaunched after a 12-year absence and collects data on some of the same environmental variables that were investigated in the 1991 and 1994 surveys. However, many of the topics covered in this survey are new. The following are the major themes covered by the 2006 HES:

  • Water quality concerns of households
  • Consumption and conservation of water
  • Energy use and home heating and cooling
  • Use of gasoline-powered equipment
  • Pesticide and fertilizer use on lawns and gardens
  • Recycling, composting and waste disposal practices
  • Impacts of air and water quality on households
  • Transportation decisions

Since the HES was last conducted, the environmental priorities and concerns of Canadians have evolved. Concerns about the safety of drinking water, the quality of the air we breathe, the impact of residential pesticide use and the influence of hazardous waste on human health are only some of the issues that have moved to the forefront of Canadians' collective consciousness. Changes in the way people behave, such as the increased use of water filters reflect these growing concerns. However, the continuation of other practices by people (such as high per capita consumption of energy and fuels) indicate that behaviours based on environmental values must compete with the practical realities of personal time use, comfort and convenience.

The HES was conducted under the umbrella of the Canadian Environmental Sustainability Indicators (CESI) project. A joint initiative of Statistics Canada, Environment Canada and Health Canada, the CESI project publishes an annual report1 that presents environmental indicators for water quality, air quality, and greenhouse gas emissions. The indicators are intended to assist those in government responsible for developing policy and measuring performance, while also informing individual Canadians who want to know more about the trends in their environment.

This survey is scheduled to be conducted every two years, with the next version scheduled for late 2007 and early 2008.


  1. Statistics Canada. 2006. Canadian Environmental Sustainability Indicators. Catalogue number 16-251-X (accessed May 2, 2007).