Demographic Documents

    Feasibility Study on the Use of Provincial/Territorial Medicare Records for Measuring the Level of Inter-provincial and Inter-territorial Migration

    1. Introduction

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    For several years, we have investigated the idea of using provincial/territorial Medicare records of new residents to estimate the size of inter-provincial migration. We have undertaken several studies since the early 1990s as to the feasibility of using this data source.

    Independent research is concurrently being undertaken by Ravi Verma on an analysis of our annual estimates comparing them with the provincial/territorial health registrations and census information and investigating how health care records could be used to update preliminary estimates. Our annual estimates are done using tax information from the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) as of the end of April. Final quarterly figures are pro-rated to the tax information.1

    We should clarify that Demography Division does not have access to the provincial or territorial health care records but instead base our analysis on monthly reports or tables provided on new registrants. The present study wishes to re-examine these provincial/territorial health registration reports for new residents to determine the viability of using these data as a substitute for our current data source of the Canada Child Tax Benefit (CCTB) for estimating preliminary quarterly inter-provincial/territorial2 migration. To do this, the study will also evaluate the data quality of these Medicare records and report on the issues, both qualitative and operational, surrounding the use of these files.

    Clearly the current arrangement is insufficient to meet the needs of the demographic estimation program as we would require statistics on infra-provincial migration not currently provided by the health care tables. This criterion would have to be assessed independently from the total raw files and is not addressed in this report.

    The purpose of this report is to present our findings on a comparative analysis of using health care records and using CCTB data for estimating preliminary migration estimates. While some of our analysis will focus on the complete sources of data, the direct comparative analysis will target the 0 to 17 year olds.

    We will explore a number of qualitative dimensions for assessing the data all described in the next section. While some relate to the entirety of the health care records, this information is not readily available for our analysis. Demography Division receives monthly information on new provincial/ territorial registrants and this is the basis for our comparative analysis. By limiting our analysis to the population 0 to 173, we have determined that the CCTB data offer the best comparative base for quality evaluation and have the fewest data adjustments compared with other data sources. Its structure and time-frame (i.e. monthly) is closest to what we get from the provincial and territorial new resident health records.

    The present report will examine these same two data sources both for monthly and quarterly estimates. You will notice that Quebec and Alberta are often missing from our analysis as they do not provide information on new registrants.4


    1 . The tax data are based on the end of April value which is then applied as a proxy, without adjustment for the July 1 population estimates, the reference date for our annual numbers.

    2 . In this paper, the term inter-provincial migration also includes the idea of inter-territorial migration.

    3 . Annual estimates of the 0 to 17 age cohort are based on CRA Tax Filer information and result in lower figures than if one were to roll up the monthly CCTB figures. As well, final quarterly estimates are also based on the CRA Tax filer information. There is no relation with the final inter-provincial migration data between the adults and children as the tax files are used for final totals and not the CCTB for children.

    4 . Alberta started providing monthly data after this analysis was done. Please refer to Annex I for a discussion of this new data source.

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