Aboriginal Peoples Survey, 2017
Concepts and Methods Guide

by Brittny Vongdara, Danielle Léger, Edith Latendresse and Ron Budinski

Social and Aboriginal Statistics Division

Release date: November 26, 2018

Skip to text

Text begins

1. Introduction

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. 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 Aboriginal 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. The 2017 APS represents the fifth cycle of the survey and follows the thematic approach that was first introduced in the 2012 APS. The focus for the 2017 APS is on transferable skills, practical training, use of information technology, Aboriginal language attainment, and participation in the Canadian economy. The survey will continue to provide core indicators in the areas of labour, health and education. Funding was provided by three federal departments: Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada & Indigenous Services Canada (formerly Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada) and Employment and Social Development Canada.

This cycle of the APS was conducted from January 16, 2017 to August 15, 2017. Approximately 43,000 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 three particular age groups: 18 to 24, 25 to 54, and 55 and over. Separate analyses on these dimensions are possible for each Aboriginal group: First Nations people living off reserve, Métis and Inuit. Although 15 to 17 years olds were not specifically targeted, they were still sampled. This was done so that estimates for the entire target population could be produced and also in part to conform to harmonized content so that the APS could be comparable to other Statistics Canada surveys, such as the Labour Force Survey (LFS).

Historically, data from the APS have been used to support research for policy planning and program development, with the goal of improving services for Aboriginal peoples. 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 RCAP’s final report recommended that the APS be conducted regularly to monitor the demographic and social conditions of Aboriginal peoples.

The 2017 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 of increasing Aboriginal participation in the Canadian economy. Information on education, 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.

For the 2017 APS, a supplement which was targeted toward Inuit enrolled under the Nunavut Agreement was added.  This included a large supplementary sample of Inuit in Nunavut as well as an additional set of questions designed to learn more about the availability, interest and level of preparedness of Inuit enrolled under the Nunavut Agreement for government employment.  The purpose of the APS - Nunavut Inuit Supplement is to provide information for the Nunavut Inuit Labour Force Analysis (NILFA) project and find ways to increase Inuit employment in government.  This guide will focus only on the main APS sample.  Please refer to the Aboriginal Peoples Survey—Nunavut Inuit Supplement, 2017: User’s Guide to the Analytical File for more information about this supplement.

1.2 Purpose of the Concepts and Methods Guide

This Concepts and Methods Guide is intended to provide a detailed review of the 2017 APS 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 2017 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, sampling design, data collection and processing. Chapters 7 and 8 review issues of data quality and caution users about comparing 2017 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. The Appendices provide a comprehensive list of survey indicators, extra coding categories and standard classifications used on the APS. Lastly, a glossary of survey terms is also provided.


Date modified: