1. Introduction

Warning View the most recent version.

Archived Content

Information identified as archived is provided for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It is not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards and has not been altered or updated since it was archived. Please "contact us" to request a format other than those available.

1.1 Survey overview

The Aboriginal Peoples Survey (APS) is a national survey on the social and economic conditions of First Nations people living off reserve, Métis and Inuit aged 6 years and over. The objectives of the APS are to identify the needs of these Aboriginal groups and to inform policy and programs aimed at improving the well-being of Aboriginal peoples. The APS aims to provide current and relevant data for a variety of stakeholders, including First Nations, Métis and Inuit organizations, communities, service providers, researchers, governments and the general public.

The APS has been conducted by Statistics Canada since 1991, providing a range of social and economic indicators about Aboriginal peoples. It is a postcensal survey, designed to follow and complement the Census of Population and the National Household Survey (NHS). The 2012 APS represents the fourth cycle of the survey and the first to take a focused thematic approach. The focus for 2012 is on issues of education, employment and health. The survey will continue to provide core indicators in the areas of language, income, housing and mobility. Funding was provided by three federal departments: Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, Health Canada and Employment and Social Development Canada (formerly called Human Resources and Skills Development Canada).

This cycle of the APS was conducted from February 6, 2012 to July 30, 2012.  Over 50,000 people were selected to participate in the survey and the final response rate was 76%. The survey design allowed for the production of reliable data for each of the provinces and territories (Atlantic provinces grouped), as well as for each of the four Inuit regions: Nunatsiavut (Northern coastal Labrador), Nunavik (Northern Quebec), the territory of Nunavut and the Inuvialuit region of the Northwest Territories. The survey also targeted four particular education groups: current school attendees in grades 1 to 6; current school attendees in grades 7 to 12; high school completers (including equivalency); and high school leavers. Separate analyses on these dimensions are possible for each Aboriginal group: First Nations people living off reserve, Métis and Inuit aged 6 years and over.

Historically, data from the APS have been widely used and have filled data gaps on a wide range of questions. The data have been used to inform decision making in program and policy planning and development, to improve services for Aboriginal peoples and to support research. The Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (RCAP) used the 1991 APS data as a primary source of demographic, social and economic information for their final report and related research studies. The Commission’s final report recommended that the APS be conducted regularly to monitor the demographic and social conditions of Aboriginal peoples.

The 2012 APS will continue to inform policy and programming activities aimed at improving the well-being of Aboriginal peoples. The survey’s new thematic data will help to provide a deeper understanding of the opportunities and challenges leading to success in education and employment. Information on health, language, income, housing and mobility will also be available for analysis. The APS will continue to serve as an important source of information for First Nations, Métis and Inuit organizations, community planners, service providers, governments and researchers. 

1.2 Purpose of the Concepts and Methods Guide

This Concepts and Methods Guide is intended to provide a detailed review of the 2012 Aboriginal Peoples Survey with respect to its subject matter and methodological approaches. It is designed to assist APS data users by serving as a guide to the concepts and measures of the survey as well as the technical details of the survey’s design, field work and data processing. This guide is meant to provide users with helpful information on how to use and interpret survey results. The discussion on data quality also allows users to review the strengths and limitations of the data for their particular needs.

Chapter 1 of this guide provides an overview of the 2012 APS by introducing the survey’s background and objectives. Chapter 2 outlines the survey’s themes and explains the key concepts and definitions used for the survey. Chapters 3 to 6 cover important aspects of the APS survey methodology, from sampling design through data collection and processing.  Chapters 7 and 8 review issues of data quality and caution users about comparing 2012 APS data with data from other sources.  Chapter 9 outlines the survey products available to the public, including data tables, analytical articles and reference material. Appendices provide a comprehensive list of survey indicators, extra coding categories and standard classifications used on the APS. A glossary of survey terms is also provided.

Report a problem on this page

Is something not working? Is there information outdated? Can't find what you're looking for?

Please contact us and let us know how we can help you.

Privacy notice

Date modified: