User Guide for the Survey of Household Spending, 2014
4. Definitions

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4.1 General concepts

4.1.1 Reference year of the survey

Corresponds to the data collection year, from January 1st to December 31st, 2014.

4.1.2 Household

A person or group of persons occupying one dwelling unit is defined as a “household”. The number of households, therefore, equals the number of occupied dwellings.

4.1.3 Household member

A person usually residing in the dwelling unit at the time of the interview.

4.1.4 Reference person

The household member being interviewed chooses which household member should be listed as the reference person after hearing the following definition: “The household reference person is the member of the household mainly responsible for its financial maintenance (e.g., pays the rent, mortgage, property taxes, and electricity). When members of the household share the responsibility equally, choose one of these members to be shown as the reference person”. This person must be a member of the household at the time of the interview.

4.1.5 Expenditures

The net cost of all goods and services received for private use within a given period (for example, 1, 3 or 12 months), whether or not the goods or services were paid for during that period, and regardless of whether these expenditures were made in Canada or abroad. Business expenditures are excluded.

4.1.6 Taxes included

All expenditures include, when applicable: the Harmonized Sales Tax, the Goods and Services Tax, provincial retail sales taxes, tips, customs, duties, and any other additional charges or taxes.

4.1.7 Gifts

Any expenditure may include gifts given to persons outside the household. Only the value of gifts of clothing is reported separately.

4.1.8 Insurance settlements

Where an insurance settlement was used to repair or replace property, the survey includes only the deductible amount paid for an item.

4.1.9 Trade-ins

Where a trade-in is used to lower the price of an item, most commonly a vehicle, the expenditure amount is the total cost after the trade-in. Real estate transactions are excepted.

4.2 Household characteristics

4.2.1 Number of households in sample

Corresponds to the number of eligible sample households minus households that interviewers were unable to contact, households that refused to participate and households whose interview questionnaire were rejected for lacking sufficient information.

4.2.2 Estimated number of households

Estimation of the average number of households during the reference year.

4.2.3 Household size

Number of persons in the household at the time of the interview.

4.2.4 Age of reference person

Corresponds to the age of the reference person at the time of the interview.

4.2.5 Household income before tax

Corresponds to the total income before tax received by the household the year prior to the reference year of the survey. It refers to income from all sources including government transfers: scholarships, bursaries and fellowships, wages and salaries before deductions, farm self-employment net income, non-farm self-employment net income, Universal Child Care Benefit, Old Age Security pension, CPP and QPP benefits, Employment Insurance benefits, social assistance, workers’ compensation benefits, Federal GST/HST Credit, provincial tax credits, other government transfers, private retirement pensions, support payments received, other taxable income and income from a RDSP and investment income.

4.2.6 Homeowner

Household living in a dwelling owned (with or without a mortgage) by a member of the household at the time of the interview.

4.3 Selected household expenditures

4.3.1 Total expenditure

The sum of total current consumption, income taxes, personal insurance payments and pension contributions, and gifts of money, alimony and contributions to charity.

4.3.2 Total current consumption

Sum of the expenditures for food, shelter, household operations, household furnishings and equipment, clothing and accessories, transportation, health care, personal care, recreation, education, reading materials and other printed matter, tobacco products and alcoholic beverages, games of chance, and miscellaneous expenditures.

4.3.3 Food purchased from stores

“Stores” includes all establishments where food can be bought, such as grocery stores, specialty food stores, department stores, warehouse-type stores and convenience stores, as well as frozen food suppliers, outdoor farmers’ markets and stands, and all other non service establishments. The expenditures are net of cash premium vouchers or rebates at the cash register and include deposits paid for at the time of purchase. These deposits are excluded from the expenditures when reimbursed and are shown as negative expenditures (flow of money in) in the “Miscellaneous expenditures” section.

4.3.4 Food purchased from restaurants

“Restaurants” includes full service restaurants, fast-food outlets and cafeterias, as well as refreshments stands, snack bars, vending machines, mobile canteens, caterers and chip wagons. These expenditures include tips and do not include expenditures for alcoholic beverages.

4.3.5 Shelter

Principal accommodation (either owned or rented) and other accommodation (such as vacation homes or accommodation while travelling).

4.3.6 Rent

Net rent, excluding rent paid for business or rooms rented out. Includes additional amounts paid to landlord.

4.3.7 Tenants’/Homeowners’ insurance premiums

Premiums paid for fire and comprehensive policies.

4.3.8 Repairs and maintenance (owned living quarters)

Covers expenditures for labour and materials for all types of repairs and maintenance, including expenditures to repair and maintain built-in equipment, appliances and fixtures. Expenditures related to alterations and improvements are excluded as they are considered as an increase in assets (investment) rather than an expense.

4.3.9 Water, fuel and electricity (for principal accommodation)

Expenditures for services related to water and sewage, electricity, and natural gas and other fuel for the principal accommodation, whether rented or owned.

4.3.10 Property and school taxes, water and sewage charges for owned vacation homes and other secondary residences

Refers to the amount billed, excluding any rebates. Special service charges (e.g., garbage, sewage), local improvements, school taxes and water charges are included if these are part of the property tax bill.

4.3.11 Accommodation away from home

Includes all expenses for accommodation while travelling. Excludes expenditures for accommodation that were part of a package trip.

4.3.12 Household appliances

Refers to the net purchase price after deducting trade-in allowance and any discount. Excludes appliances included in the purchase of a home.

4.3.13 Purchase of automobiles, vans and trucks

Refers to the net purchase price, including extra equipment, accessories, and warranties bought when the vehicle was purchased, after deducting any trade-in allowance or separate sales. Separate sales occur when a vehicle is sold independently by the owner (e.g., not traded in when purchasing or leasing another vehicle).

4.3.14 Health care

Includes direct (out-of-pocket) costs to the household net of the expenditures reimbursed, as well as private health insurance premiums.

4.3.15 Package trips

Includes at least two components such as transportation and accommodation, or accommodation with food and beverages.

4.3.16 Tobacco products and smokers’ supplies

Includes cigarettes, tobacco, cigars, matches, pipes, lighters, ashtrays, cigarette papers and tubes, and other smokers’ supplies.

4.3.17 Alcoholic beverages

Includes alcoholic beverages purchased from stores and restaurants. Expenditures on supplies and fees for self-made beer, wine or liquor are also included.

4.3.18 Games of chance

Expenditures on all types of games of chance. The expenditures are not net of the winnings from these games.

4.3.19 Discounts and refunds

Presented in the data tables as “negative expenditures” since they represent a flow of money into the household instead of out of it.

4.3.20 Income taxes

The sum of federal and provincial income taxes payable for the taxation year prior to the reference year of the survey. Income taxes include taxes on income, capital gains and RRSP withdrawals, after taking into account exemptions, deductions, non-refundable tax credits, and the refundable Quebec abatement. Income taxes also include provincial health insurance premiums.

4.4 Dwelling characteristics

4.4.1 Type of dwelling

Type of dwelling in which the household resided at the time of interview. A dwelling is a structurally separate set of living premises with a private entrance from outside the building or from a common hall or stairway.

  • A single detached dwelling contains only one dwelling unit and is completely separated by open space on all sides from any other structure, except its own garage or shed.
  • A single attached dwelling is a double or semi-detached unit (side-by-side) or a row or terrace unit.
  • Apartment includes duplexes (two dwellings, situated one above the other), triplexes, quadruplexes and apartment buildings.
  • Other dwellings include mobile homes, motor homes, tents, railroad cars or houseboats, which are used as permanent residences and are capable of being moved on short notice.

4.4.2 Repairs needed

Indicates the respondent’s perception of the repairs the dwelling needed at the time of the interview to restore it to its original condition. Remodeling, additions, conversions, or energy improvements that would upgrade the dwelling over and above its original condition are not included.

  • Major repairs include serious deficiencies in the structural condition of the dwelling, as well as the plumbing, electrical and heating systems. Examples include corroded pipes, damaged electrical wiring, sagging floors, bulging walls, damp walls and ceilings, and crumbling foundation.
  • Minor repairs include deficiencies in the surface or covering materials of the dwelling and less serious deficiencies in the plumbing, electrical and heating systems. Examples include small cracks in interior walls and ceilings, broken light fixtures and switches, cracked or broken panes, leaking sinks, missing shingles or siding, and peeling paint.

4.4.3 Tenure

Housing status of the household at the time of the interview.

  • Owned with mortgage indicates that the dwelling was owned by a household member and that there was a mortgage at the time of the interview.
  • Owned without mortgage indicates that the dwelling was owned by a household member and that there was no mortgage at the time of the interview.
  • Rented indicates that the dwelling was rented by the household or occupied rent-free at the time of the interview.

4.4.4 Number of bathrooms (for dwelling occupied at the time of the interview)

Number of rooms in the dwelling with an installed bathtub and/or shower.

4.5 Household equipment

4.5.1 Landline telephone service

Includes landline telephone services used for business if the business is conducted in the dwelling.

4.5.2 Cellular telephone

Includes cellular telephones and handheld text messaging devices with cell phone capability.

4.5.3 Home computer

Excludes computers used exclusively for business purposes.

4.5.4 Internet use from home

Indicates whether the household has access to the Internet at home.

4.5.5 Owned vehicles

Number of vehicles (automobiles, vans and trucks) owned by members of the household at the end of the month prior to the time of the interview.

4.6 Classification categories

4.6.1 Canada

Canada-level data for 2014 include the 10 provinces only.

4.6.2 Province/territory

Data for the territories are not available for 2014.

4.6.3 Before-tax household income quintile (national)

Income groupings are obtained by ranking the households who responded to the interview in ascending order by total household income before tax, then partitioning the households into five groups of similar size. The estimated number of households in each group should be the same in principle, but differences may occur due to the weight of the household at the boundary of two quintiles, since this household must lie in either one or the other of these quintiles. Moreover, the specific methodology of the survey (with a set of weights for the interview and another for the diary) implies that the estimated number of households will be the same for the interview as for the diary only if the quintiles are defined at the provincial level. For the national quintiles, the estimated number of households may differ between the interview weights and the diary weights (see Section 5).

4.6.4 Housing tenure

Whether a household member owned or rented the dwelling in which the household lived at the time of the interview.

  • Owners refers to all households living in a dwelling owned (with or without mortgage) by a household member at the time of the interview.
  • Owners with mortgage owned the dwelling with a mortgage at the time of the interview.
  • Owners without mortgage owned the dwelling without a mortgage at the time of the interview.
  • Renters rented a dwelling at the time of the interview (as a regular tenant, rent free, or with reduced rent).

4.6.5 Household type

Households are divided according to the following types:

  • One person households are the households where the dwelling is occupied by only one person at the time of the interview.
  • Couple households are households where the married or common law spouse of the reference person is a member of the household at the time of the interview. This household type may be further broken down into couple households without children (without additional persons), with children (without additional persons), and with additional persons. “Children” are never-married sons, daughters, or foster children of the reference person and may be any age. “Additional persons” include sons, daughters and foster children whose marital status is other than “single, never-married”, other relatives by birth or marriage, and unrelated persons.
  • Lone-parent households are households where the reference person has no spouse at the time of the interview and there is at least one child (never-married son, daughter, or foster child of the reference person). The lone-parent households for which data are presented do not include any additional persons.
  • Other households are households composed of relatives only or households having at least one household member who is unrelated to the reference person (e.g., lodger, roommate, employee). Relatives may include:
    • son, daughter, or foster child of the reference person whose marital status is other than “single, never-married”;
    • relatives of the reference person by birth or marriage (not spouse, son, daughter or foster child).

4.6.6 Size of area of residence

Sampled dwellings are assigned to the following groups depending on the area in which they are located according to the 2011 Census boundaries and population size.

  • Population centres:
    • 1,000,000 and over
    • 500,000 to 999,999
    • 250,000 to 499,999
    • 100,000 to 249,999
    • 30,000 to 99,999
    • 1,000 to 29,999
  • Rural area

4.6.7 Population centre

Area with a population of at least 1,000 or more and a density of 400 or more people per square kilometre. Population centres are classified as either small, medium, or large as defined below:

  • Small population centre: 1,000 to 29,999
  • Medium population centre: 30,000 to 99,999
  • Large urban population centre: 100,000 and over

4.6.8 Rural area

All areas outside population centres are considered rural. Together, population centres and rural areas cover all of Canada.

4.6.9 Age of reference person

Households are grouped according to the age of the reference person as follows:

  • Less than 30 years
  • 30 to 39 years
  • 40 to 54 years
  • 55 to 64 years
  • 65 years and over
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