Education Indicators in Canada: Handbook for the Report of the Pan-Canadian Education Indicators Program March 2024
Section A: A portrait of the school-age population

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A1 Population size

Overall, Indicator A1, Population size, provides information on the school-age population in Canada. This sub-indicator provides estimates and projections of the population aged 0 to 29.

Population projections of the Canadian population, for Canada, provinces and territories

  • Table 17-10-0057-02 shows the projected population of the Canadian population by projection scenario.

To understand more about the concepts, definitions, methodology and limitations associated with this table, please see the Population Projections for Canada, Provinces and Territories: Technical Report on Methodology and Assumptions.

Population projections of the Indigenous population, for Canada, provinces and territories

  • Table 17-10-0144-02 shows the projected population of the Indigenous population by projection scenario.

To understand more about the concepts, definitions, methodology and limitations associated with this table, please see the Demosim: Reports and Analytical Studies.

A2 Cultural diversity

Indicator A2 portrays the diversity of the school-age population in some of Canada’s major census metropolitan areas (CMAs) in terms of immigrants (37-10-0098-02), visible minorities (37-10-0098-03) and language spoken at home (37-10-0098-04). It also traces shifts in the proportion of the school-age population with Aboriginal identity (37-10-0098-05).

Concepts and definitions

  • For this indicator, the school-age population refers to all individuals aged 5 to 24, whether or not they are attending school. The following age groups, which align with the standard used by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and Statistics Canada, have been adopted for PCEIP: 5 to 14; 15 to 19; 20 to 24; and 25 to 29.
  • Immigrant refers to a person who is or has ever been a landed immigrant/permanent resident. This person has been granted the right to live in Canada permanently by immigration authorities. Some immigrants have resided in Canada for a number of years, while others have arrived recently. Some immigrants are Canadian citizens, while others are not. Most immigrants are born outside Canada, but a small number are born in Canada. In the 2016 Census of Population, 'Immigrant' includes immigrants who landed in Canada on or prior to May 10, 2016.
  • Visible minority refers to whether a person belongs to a visible minority group as defined by the Employment Equity Act and, if so, the visible minority group to which the person belongs. The Employment Equity Act defines visible minorities as 'persons, other than Aboriginal peoples, who are non-Caucasian in race or non-white in colour.' The visible minority population consists mainly of the following groups: South Asian, Chinese, Black, Filipino, Latin American, Arab, Southeast Asian, West Asian, Korean and Japanese.
  • Home language 'Language spoken most often at home' refers to the language the person speaks most often at home at the time of data collection. A person can report more than one language as "spoken most often at home" if the languages are spoken equally often. Readers will find a complete analysis of factors affecting comparability of language results between the censuses in the publication Dictionary, Census of Population, 2016, Catalogue no. 98-301-X.
  • Aboriginal identity refers to whether the person reported being an Aboriginal person, that is, First Nations (North American Indian), Métis or Inuk (Inuit) and/or being a Registered or Treaty Indian (that is, registered under the Indian Act of Canada) and/or being a member of a First Nation or Indian band. Aboriginal peoples of Canada are defined in the Constitution Act, 1982, section 35 (2) as including the Indian, Inuit and Métis peoples of Canada.
  • Aboriginal identity includes the Aboriginal groups (First Nations (North American Indian), Métis or Inuk (Inuit)), multiple Aboriginal identities and Aboriginal responses not included elsewhere.
  • In 2016, there were 14 Indian reserves and Indian settlements that were 'incompletely enumerated' in the census (see Incompletely enumerated Indian reserves and Indian settlements). In 2011, there were a total of 36 Indian reserves and Indian settlements that were 'incompletely enumerated' in the NHS; 31 of these were also incompletely enumerated in the 2011 Census. The five additional reserves that were incompletely enumerated in the NHS were cases where only the census portion of the enumeration was completed and the NHS enumeration was either not permitted or was interrupted before it could be completed, or was not possible because of natural events. In 2006 there were 22 Indian reserves and Indian settlements that were 'incompletely enumerated' in the census. For more information on incompletely enumerated Indian reserves and Indian settlements, please refer to Appendix 1.2 of the Guide to the Census of Population, 2016, Catalogue no. 98-304-X.
  • A census metropolitan area (CMA) or a census agglomeration (CA) is formed by one or more adjacent municipalities centred on a population center (known as the core). A CMA must have a total population of at least 100,000 of which 50,000 or more must live in the core. A CA must have a core population of at least 10,000. To be included in the CMA or CA, other adjacent municipalities must have a high degree of integration with the core, as measured by commuting flows derived from previous census place of work data.
  • If the population of the core of a CA declines below 10,000, the CA is retired. However, once an area becomes a CMA, it is retained as a CMA even if its total population declines below 100,000 or the population of its core falls below 50,000. Small population centers with a population count of less than 10,000 are called fringe. All areas inside the CMA or CA that are not population centers are rural areas.

Methodology

  • The proportion of the school-age population with particular characteristics is based on information reported in the 2011 National Household Survey (NHS) for immigrants, visible minorities, and Aboriginal identity, and the 2016 Census of Population for home language.
  • The proportion of the school-age population with characteristic y = (number of individuals aged 5 to 24 with characteristic y) / (number of individuals aged 5 to 24).

Limitations

  • PCEIP reports separate Canada-level indicators for people who self-identify as North American Indian, Métis or Inuit. Although this grouping lends itself to more detailed analyses of the Aboriginal population in Canada than a broad pan-Canadian grouping, it does not capture the entire picture. For instance, the grouping does not differentiate between Aboriginal people living in urban versus rural or isolated communities, or between Aboriginal people residing on/off reserves and Aboriginal people from these diverse settings may have very different opportunities, needs and aspirations. Separate Aboriginal indicators for each of the 10 provinces and three territories are also reported; again, the variations within jurisdictions may not be captured completely.
  • When comparing estimates from the 2016 Census long form and estimates from the 2011 National Household Survey (NHS) users should take into account the fact that the two sources represent different populations. The target population for the 2016 Census long form includes usual residents in collective dwellings and persons living abroad whereas the target population for the NHS excludes them. Moreover, the NHS estimates are derived from a voluntary survey and are therefore subject to potentially higher non response error than those derived from the 2016 Census long form.

Data source

A3 Low income

Indicator A3 provides information on the proportion of the population aged 0 to 24 living in low-income circumstances, by age groups and types of living arrangement (table 37-10-0129-01). These data are presented for Canada and the provinces.

Concepts and definitions

  • This indicator refers to the pre-school as well as the school-age population and includes all individuals aged 0 to 24, whether or not they are attending school. The following age groups have been adopted for PCEIP: 0 to 4, 5 to 19 (5 to 14, 15 to 19), 20 to 24 and 0 to 24.
  • Three living arrangements are presented for the population aged 0 to 24 in low-income circumstances: living with two parents, living with a lone parent and not living with any parent. The category “All living arrangements” encompasses all three categories above.
  • Parents captures biological and step-parents, as well as those who have adopted children. Lone parent refers to guardians and adults, regardless of marital status, without a partner but with children in their care. "Census family type" was used to define living arrangements. The term "census family" corresponds to what is commonly referred to as a "nuclear family" or "immediate family". In general, it consists of a married couple or common-law couple with or without children, or a lone-parent with a child or children. Furthermore, each child does not have his or her own spouse or child living in the dwelling.
  • For the purposes of this indicator, the category “living with two parents” or “living with a lone parent” indicates that the major income earner in the census family is the child’s parent.  If this is not the case (for example, the child is living with their parent and their grandparent and the grandparent is the major income earner) then the child would be considered to be “not living with any parent”.
  • For each household and family, the major income earner is the person with the highest income before tax. For persons with negative total income before tax, the absolute value of their income is used, to reflect the fact that negative incomes generally arise from losses "earned" in the marketplace which are not meant to be sustained. In the rare situations where two persons have exactly the same income, the older person is the major income earner.
  • Low income is determined using Statistics Canada’s Low Income Measures (LIMs). The concept underlying the LIM is that all persons in a household have low income if their adjusted household income falls below half of the median adjusted income.The LIM is the most commonly used low income measure for making international comparisons. "Persons in low income" should be interpreted as persons who are part of low income households, including persons living alone whose income is below the low income line (LIL). Similarly, "children in low income" means "children who are living in low income households".

Methodology

  • Data from 2006 to 2011 for this indicator are drawn from the Survey of Labour and Income Dynamics (SLID) and data for 2012 to present are from the Canadian Income Survey (CIS). The CIS is a cross-sectional survey developed to provide a portrait of the income and income sources of Canadians, with their individual and household characteristics.
  • Low income is calculated using the after-tax low income measure (LIM-AT). Individuals are defined as having low income if their adjusted after-tax income falls below 50% of the median adjusted after-tax income. Adjusted after-tax income is derived by dividing household income by the square root of the household size and assigning this value to all persons in the household. LIM-AT thresholds are computed each year and vary according to trends in median income. Because a new set of LIMs is calculated each year using new data, they do not require updating using an inflation index. Unlike the low income cut-offs, which are derived from an expenditure survey and then compared to an income survey, the LIMs are both derived and applied using a single income survey.
  • The percentage of the (pre)school age population in low income is defined as the number of children living in low income households divided by the total number of children in that age category.
  • Adjustments are made to CIS data to reflect the most recent census. In fall of 2022, all estimates were adjusted to reflect the 2016 Census population counts and  CIS estimates have been revised back to 2012.

Limitations

  • LIM-AT provides one of many possible measures to monitor trends in the relative economic well-being of Canadian families.
  • The CIS uses a different methodology compared to that used in SLID. Data from the SLID were revised for the years 2006 to 2011 to allow CIS data to be compared with data for earlier years. No revisions were made to data prior to 2006. In the implementation of the revision for 2006 to 2011, revisions to the data were made in such a way as to minimize "breaks" in trends. Nonetheless, for some characteristics the data trends could reveal a "break" because of the change in methodology. Such a break would appear as a noticeable upward or downward shift in the data. These breaks may be found in estimates for 2006 and 2012 and may be more prevalent in estimates for small domains such as family type or region (Statistics Canada, 2015).

Data sources

  • Canadian Income Survey (CIS), Statistics Canada. For more information, consult “Definitions, data sources and methods”, Statistics Canada Web site, survey 5200.
  • Statistics Canada, 2016. “Low income lines: What they are and how they are created,” Income Research Paper Series. Statistics Canada catalogue 75F0002M, no. 002, Ottawa. Income Statistics Division. (accessed August 13th, 2020).
  • Statistics Canada, 2015. “Income of Canadians, 2000 to 2013.” The Daily. December 17. (accessed August 13th, 2020).
  • Statistics Canada, March 2022. User Guide for the Canadian Income Survey 2020 . Centre for Income and Socioeconomic Well-being Statistics.

A4 Family background

Indicator A4 examines the living arrangements of the school-age population and the working status of parents. Distributions are presented for the total school-age population (table 37-10-0093-01 and table 37-10-0094-01) and the school-age population with Aboriginal identity (table 37-10-0095-01 and table 37-10-0096-01).

Concepts and definitions

  • For this indicator, the school-age population refers to all individuals aged 5 to 24, whether or not they are attending school. The following age groups, which align with the standard used by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and Statistics Canada, are used: 5 to 14; 15 to 19; 20 to 24; and 25 to 29.
  • The 5- to 24-year-old population was grouped into the following categories to reflect living arrangements: living with parents(s), which includes married parents, common-law parents, and lone parents; and not living with parents, which captures those individuals living as part of a couple or lone parent, or who have other living arrangements.
  • Parents captures biological, same sex and step-parents, as well as those who have adopted children. Lone parent refers to guardians and adults, regardless of marital status, without a partner but with children in their care. “Other living arrangements” includes people who live with “non-family” persons; that is, people living with relatives only, living with relatives and other persons, or living with non-relatives (at least two of these non-relatives must constitute a census family). Parents also refers to grandparents when there are no parents present in the household.
  • Percentage distributions are presented for the 5-to-24 age group overall, and for the following age groups: 5 to 14, 15 to 19, and 20 to 24.
  • The Census of Population definition of family refers to a married couple (with or without children of either or both spouses), a couple living common-law (with or without children of either or both partners) or a lone parent of any marital status, with at least one child living in the same dwelling. A married couple or a couple living common-law may be of the opposite or same sex. “Children” in a census family include grandchildren living with their grandparent(s) but with no parent(s) present.
  • There were several significant changes that were made to the census family concept beginning in the 2001 Census: two persons living in a same-sex common-law relationship, along with any of their children residing in the household will be considered a census family. Children in a census family can have been previously married (as long as they are not currently living with a spouse or common-law partner); previously, they had to be never-married. A grandchild living in a three-generation household where the parent (middle generation) is never-married will, contrary to previous censuses, now be considered as a child in the census family of his or her parent, provided the grandchild is not living with his or her own spouse, common-law partner, or child. Traditionally, the census family usually consisted of the two older generations. A grandchild of another household member, where a middle-generation parent is not present, will now be considered as a child in the census family of his or her grandparent, provided the grandchild is not living with his or her own spouse, common-law partner, or child. Traditionally, such a grandchild would not be considered as the member of a census family.
  • In table 37-10-0093-01, children living with same sex married parents are grouped together with those living with same sex common-in –law parents to be consistent with the definitions used in the 2006 Census. Therefore, in this table, the category of children living with “common-law- parents” include those of opposite sex common-law, same sex common-law and same sex married parents. It is important to note that the data in this table are not comparable to the data in table 37-10-0095-01 where children living with same sex married parents are grouped together with those living with married parents to be consistent with the definitions used in the 2011 National Household Survey (NHS).
  • Aboriginal identity refers to whether the person reported being an Aboriginal person, that is, First Nations (North American Indian), Métis or Inuk (Inuit) and/or being a Registered or Treaty Indian (that is, registered under the Indian Act of Canada) and/or being a member of a First Nation or Indian band. Aboriginal peoples of Canada are defined in the Constitution Act, 1982, section 35 (2) as including the Indian, Inuit and Métis peoples of Canada.
  • Total Aboriginal identity” includes Aboriginal group (i.e., whether the person reported being an Aboriginal person, that is, First Nations (North American Indian), Métis, or Inuk (Inuit)), multiple Aboriginal identities and Aboriginal responses not included elsewhere.

Methodology

  • The percentage distribution of the school-age population, by age group and living arrangements, was examined for the total Canadian population (table 37-10-0093-01 and table 37-10-0094-01), and for the school-age population with Aboriginal identity (table 37-10-0095-01 and table 37-10-0096-01).
  • To ensure the confidentiality of responses collected for the census, a random rounding process is used to alter the values reported for individual counts. As a result, when data are summed or grouped, the total value may not match the sum of the individual values, since the total and subtotals are independently and randomly rounded. However, apart from discrepancies due to simple rounding, the percentages were calculated to add up to 100%, as recommended by the census methodology group.

Limitations

  • PCEIP reports separate Canada-level indicators for people who self-identify as North American Indian, Métis or Inuit. Although this grouping lends itself to more detailed analyses of the Aboriginal population in Canada than a broad pan-Canadian grouping, it does not capture the entire picture. For instance, the grouping does not differentiate between Aboriginal people living in urban versus rural or isolated communities, or between Aboriginal people residing on/off reserves and Aboriginal people from these diverse settings may have very different opportunities, needs and aspirations.
  • Some Indian reserves and settlements did not participate in the 2011 National Household Survey (NHS) as enumeration was either not permitted, it was interrupted before completion, or because of natural events (e.g., forest fires). These reserves are referred to as 'incompletely enumerated reserves.' There were 36 reserves out of 863 inhabited reserves in the 2011 NHS that were incompletely enumerated. Data for these 36 Indian reserves and Indian settlements are not included in the 2011 NHS tabulations. As a result, some estimates in this document may be underestimated for First Nations people. Please refer to the reference document entitled Aboriginal Peoples Reference Guide, National Household Survey, Catalogue no. 99-011-X2011006, for more information on these exclusions.
  • When comparing the census results to other Statistics Canada sources, it appears that there is some over-estimation of persons aged 15, 16 and 17 who are counted as married, common-law, separated, divorced or widowed, rather than never married (single). For further information, please consult the Families Reference Guide, 2011 Census.
  • There is some variability of the counts in each census of people aged 20 to 24 due to the possibility that students are being reported at their college location instead of at their parents’ home (which is recommended). Please see “Living Arrangements of Young Adults aged 20 to 29”, a Census in Brief by Anne Milan.
  • When comparing estimates from the 2006 Census long form and estimates from the 2011 National Household Survey (NHS) users should take into account the fact that the two sources represent different populations. The target population for the 2006 Census long form includes usual residents in collective dwellings and persons living abroad whereas the target population for the NHS excludes them. Moreover, the NHS estimates are derived from a voluntary survey and are therefore subject to potentially higher non response error than those derived from the 2006 Census long form.

Data source

  • 2006, 2011 and 2016 Census of Population, 2011 National Household Survey (NHS), Statistics Canada.

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