Index of Remoteness

Release date: April 3, 2020 Updated on: January 4, 2023

Geographic proximity to service centres and population centres is an important determinant of socio-economic and health outcomes. Consequently, it is a relevant dimension in the analysis and delivery of policies and programs.

To measure this dimension, Statistics Canada developed an Index of Remoteness of communities. For each populated community (census subdivisions), the index is determined by its distance to all the population centres,Note  defined by Statistics Canada in a given travel radius, as well as their population size.

The index is part of a set of emerging and experimental geospatial concepts and indicators developed by the agency in collaboration with Indigenous Services Canada.

The current version of the Index of Remotes uses 2021 census population counts and geographical boundaries for all populated communities (census subdivisions) of Canada. The method used to compute the index is based on the principle of a gravity model, in which both the proximity to and size of population centres are used in the estimates. The distances used in the estimates are determined by the road network travel distances within a given radius that permits for daily interaction.

The resulting index is a continuous measure, with normalized and rescaled value ranging from zero to one, where zero value correspond to the minimum value of remoteness and one corresponding to the maximum value of remoteness. The continuous index can be converted into any categorical grouping, based on specific user’s needs.

The variables included in the current experimental version of the Index of Remoteness dataset are:

For detailed information on the methodology see the 2021 update metadata document and the working paper presenting an iteration of the index with 2011 census data.

Downloading the Index of Remoteness dataset

For ease of download, the Index of Remoteness dataset is provided as a compressed CSV.

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