Toronto Region Statistics Canada Research Data Centre (Toronto RDC)

Newsletter Number 9 – Spring 2008

The Toronto RDC is a secure social science research facility located at the University of Toronto that offers researchers from many academic disciplines an opportunity to analyze large-scale, longitudinal Statistics Canada microdata in a well-equipped computer lab setting.

The Toronto RDC is a partnership among Statistics Canada, the University of Toronto, York University and Ryerson University.  Statistics Canada’s RDC Program is a national initiative to make Statistics Canada microdata more directly available to researchers across the country.

For information about applying for access to the Toronto RDC, please see “RDC Proposal Submission Process” near the end of this newsletter.


1.    Latest News
2.    Presentations
3.    Dataset Holdings
4.    Hours of Operation
5.    Health Reports Re-launched
6.    York University’s Summer Program in Data Analysis (SPIDA)
7.    Conferences
8.    Opportunities with Statistics Canada
9.    RDC Proposal Submission Process
10.    Contact Us

1)    What’s new at the Toronto RDC?

Number of Research Projects Continues to Rise

The number of research projects at the Toronto RDC has reached 300, with 109 of these projects currently active.  These projects involve over 430 graduate students and faculty members from the University of Toronto, York University, Ryerson and other universities. The Toronto RDC continues to be a leading centre for health, social science and economic research.

Michael Baker Accepts another 3-Year Term as Academic Director

The Toronto RDC’s Academic Director, Professor Michael Baker, has accepted another 3-year term as Academic Director.  In his first three years, Michael has worked hard to secure stable funding for the Toronto RDC, and has been a strong proponent of the RDC Program and the Toronto RDC in his involvement with the RDC Program’s National Coordinating Committee.

Census Data Now Available

For the first time, data from the 1996 and 2001 Census long forms are available for research in the Toronto RDC.  These datasets contain detailed responses to the census long form, which is given to 20% of the Canadian population and contains questions on language, ethnicity, mobility, employment, religion, education and housing.  Census data from other years is either already available or will become available in the future.

Funding for the RDC Network

In the fall of 2006 the RDC Network was awarded a new 4 year, 4 million dollar grant from the Leading Edge Fund of the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI).  Additionally, funding has been provided by SSHRC and CIHR to help support research in the RDC Program.  Work has begun to connect all the RDCs via a secure wide area network, and to create metadata documentation which will allow researchers to easily access information contained in datasets stored at the RDCs.

Most Toronto RDC use is by Graduate Students

The Toronto RDC continues in its role in promoting student training and advancement; over half of all time spent by researchers in the Toronto RDC since its opening has been by graduate students working on their own dissertation or on other projects as research assistants.

Staffing at the Toronto RDC

The Toronto RDC is staffed by both Statistics Canada and University of Toronto staff and faculty members.  For Statistics Canada, Angela Prencipe and Byron Lee continue in their positions as Analysts.  In the fall of 2007, Tina Hotton Mahony returned from maternity leave to resume her duties as an RDC analyst.

For the University of Toronto, Michael Baker, Susan Murphy and Dave Haans continue on in their roles of Academic Director, Manager, and Research and Computing Consultant, respectively.  Additionally, we would like to welcome Isobel Medel as the Toronto RDC’s new Administrative Assistant, whose role is to help the analysts with their administrative tasks.  Welcome, Isobel!

2)    Presentations at the Toronto RDC

Please see the Events page on our website for the latest information on all our presentations and workshops.

Upcoming Events

a)    Some Survey Data Sets Available from Statistics Canada’s Social and Aboriginal Statistics Division

Tuesday April 1st, 2008, 1pm to 4:15pm, Room 230, FIELDS INSTITUTE, 222 College St., 2nd Floor

Members of the Social and Aboriginal Statistics Division at Statistics Canada will provide a series of 20 minute presentations on some of our key data sets. These rich sources of social data are or will soon be available for researchers to use within Statistics Canada’s Research Data Centres Program. Additionally, a representative from one of Statistics Canada’s refereed journals, Perspectives on Labour and Income, will discuss publishing opportunities at Statistics Canada.

The presentations will be of interest to researchers and graduate students in the social sciences. Please feel free to attend one or more of the presentations. The presenters will be available to answer any questions you have on the surveys. A representative of the Toronto Regional Statistics Canada Research Data Centre will also be on hand to answer any questions you might have on how to apply to the Research Data Centres Program.

RSVP: Please contact Dave Haans ( to confirm your attendance.

Please specify if you will be attending all of the presentations or particular sessions:

The Toronto RDC would like to thank the Fields Institute for providing the venue for this presentation.

b)    Brown-Bag Lunch Talk Series, 2007-2008

The Brown-Bag Lunch Talk Series is in its third year and has featured presentations by researchers focusing on one or more aspects of their research at the Toronto RDC.  The Brown-Bag Lunch Series seminars take place from October to April of each academic year in the Toronto RDC’s Conference Room.

If you would like an opportunity to present or discuss your RDC research in an informal, collegial setting the Brown Bag series provides, please contact Dave Haans ( or Angela Prencipe ( for more information.

c)    Introductory SAS Workshop

The Intro SAS Workshop is given twice a year in the spring and fall and is meant to introduce RDC researchers to the SAS System, giving them both the basics and a large number of tips and techniques that prove handy in the Toronto RDC’s research environment.  For more information, please contact Dave Haans at

d)    Practical Bootstrap Estimation Workshop

Toronto RDC staff are currently working on a Practical Bootstrap Estimation Workshop.  Bootstrap estimation is a process by which repeated samples are taken and a more accurate estimate of standard error and confidence intervals is generated.  This workshop is being designed to introduce researchers to the technique of bootstrap estimation using both the Statistics Canada Bootvar macro and Stata SE.  Please contact Dave Haans at if you are an RDC researcher and would like to be informed about progress on this workshop.

Previous Presentations

a)    Working with Canadian Census Data at the Toronto RDC

On December 13th, 2007, Martine Grenier, Mokili Mbuluyo and Jean-René Boudreau from Statistics Canada gave a talk on the Canadian Census Data now available at the Toronto RDC.  They presented information on the general content of the census microdata (including universes, sample size and variables), covered confidentiality rules for the census, and answered many questions of the approximately 22 RDC researchers who attended.

Please see our Events webpage for the poster and PowerPoint presentation which accompanied this talk.

b)    Toronto RDC CCHS Mini-conference

On Friday, October 26, 2007, the Toronto RDC invited RDC researchers to attend a mini-conference on the Canadian Community Health Survey datasets.

Didier Garriguet, Senior Analyst in the Health Statistics Division at Statistics Canada presented a well-received overview of the complex CCHS 2.2 survey.  Following Didier's presentation, Valerie Tarasuk, Sharon Kirkpatrick and Sandra Fitzpatrick of the Department of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Toronto gave a presentation on "Using CCHS 2.2 to Describe Nutrition Disparities in Canada."

c)    Brown Bag Lunch Talk

Our latest Brown Bag Lunch Series talk was given by Charles Jones, Department of Sociology, University of Toronto.  His talk on October 10th 2007 was titled "Effects of Maternal Smoking While Pregnant on Child Outcomes on Adolescence: Results from a prospective national longitudinal survey."

3)     The Toronto RDC’s Datasets

The following are some of the core RDC Program datasets available to RDC Researchers.

Aboriginal People’s Survey (APS) 2001
The Aboriginal Peoples Survey (APS) provides data on the social and economic conditions of Aboriginal people in Canada.  Its specific purpose was to identify the needs of Aboriginal people focusing on issues such as health, language, employment, income, schooling, housing, and mobility.  The survey was designed and implemented in partnership with national Aboriginal organizations.

Census of Population – 1996 and 2001
The Census of Population data file consists of responses to the census long form.  For each census, two questionnaires are given: the short form and the long form.  The short form contains seven questions: the respondent’s name, sex, age, marital and common-law status, family and household relationships and mother tongue. The long form, given to 1 in 5 households, includes the seven questions from the short questionnaire plus 52 additional questions, including a question on religion and new questions on birthplace of parents and language spoken at work.  The RDCs now house data from the census long form.

The National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth (NLSCY)
The NLSCY follows the development and well-being of Canadian children from birth to adulthood.  It currently consists of 6 cycles with surveys administered every two years.

The National Population Health Survey (NPHS)
The NPHS is a longitudinal survey which collects information related to the health of the Canadian population and related socio-demographic information.  The NPHS currently consists of 6 cycles with surveys administered every two years.

Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS)
The main objective of the CCHS is to provide timely, consistent, cross-sectional estimates of health determinants, health status, dietary intake, and health system utilization across Canada.  The CCHS is a sample survey with a cross-sectional design.  There are presently 3 cycles of the CCHS available, each with a different research focus.
The Survey of Labour and Income Dynamics (SLID)
The SLID is a multi-panel longitudinal survey conducted every year.  The main objective of the SLID is to study the economic well-being of Canadians over time.  It incorporates changes in paid work, family make-up, receipt of government transfers and other factors.

Other datasets include the Ethnic Diversity Survey (EDS), the Longitudinal Survey of Immigrants to Canada (LSIC), the Youth in Transition Survey (YITS), the Participation and Activity Limitation Survey (PALS), the Workplace and Employee Survey (WES), the National Graduates Survey (NGS), and the Canadian General Social Surveys (GSS).

The RDC Program’s listing of core datasets is always available at:
4)    Our Hours of Operation

The hours of operation of the Toronto RDC are 9:00am to 6:00pm Monday-Friday.  On some days, the Toronto RDC may have to close at 5pm due to analyst availability.

Our hours, including any relevant closures, are always available at:

5)    Health Reports Re-launched

Health Reports is Statistics Canada’s peer-reviewed journal for discoveries in population health and health services research. Health Reports publishes original research on diverse topics related to understanding and improving the health of populations and the delivery of health care. The journal welcomes submissions based on analyses of national/provincial surveys or national/provincial administrative databases, as well as results of international comparative health research.  Health Reports furthermore encourages the sharing of methodological information among those engaged in the analysis of health surveys or administrative databases. Published monthly electronically and quarterly in print by the Health Information and Research Division of Statistics Canada, Health Reports articles are indexed in the biomedical journal online database MEDLINE/PubMed and are positioned for widespread media uptake through release in Statistics Canada’s Daily.

You can find the newly re-launched journal Health Reports at:

6)    York University’s Summer Program in Data Analysis (SPIDA)

Multilevel Models and Structural Equation Models in Longitudinal Data Analysis

June 17-25, 2008

York's Summer Program in Data Analysis (SPIDA) is an eight-day series of intensive lectures and workshops designed to train social science researchers in the theory and practice of multilevel [or mixed] models and structural equation models, as they are applied to longitudinal data, typically generated by panel surveys.

In longitudinal applications of multilevel models, temporal trajectories, for example a sequence of health measurements over time, are conceptualized as “nested” within each individual survey respondent. Characterizing the sequence with one or more parameters, we can ask whether the trajectory shows improvement, decline or stability, and how this is related to a person’s age, income and other personal characteristics. Not only do multilevel models allow temporal trajectories to be parameterized in a very flexible way, measurements need not be taken at the same time or equally often for each individual, and missing data are easily accommodated. Finally, by extending the model to more than two “levels”, it is possible to systematically measure the effects of groupings of individuals, for example in families, neighbourhoods or communities. This part of SPIDA will be presented by Professor Suzanne Graham of the University of New Hampshire [June 18-21].

The second topic of this year's SPIDA is structural equation models (“SEMs”, the application of which to panel data is often described as the analysis of “growth curves,” even though what is being measured can exhibit any pattern of change over time. SEMs combine ideas of “path analysis,” developed by Sewall Wright in the 1920s to describe causal relationships, and factor analysis, developed in the 1930s to conceptualize “traits”, measured imperfectly by a number of “items”, usually in some kind of questionnaire or test. While SEMs have less flexibility in characterizing temporal trajectories than multilevel models, they have a unique ability to analyze temporal trajectories in the context of complex causal relations. Also, it is usual for panel surveys to provide measurements at discrete intervals, which produces data appropriate for SEMs. Another advantage of SEMs is that they are now a “mature” technique, in continuous development since the initial work by Jöreskog and Sörbom in the late 1960s.

This part of SPIDA will be presented by Professor David Flora of York University [June 23 - 25].

A typical day in the Program consists of a morning lecture, with a related computer lab session in the afternoon. Computing will be done in SAS because of its flexibility and the availability of support in most social science research environments. For non-SAS users, the first day of SPIDA [June 17] is a one-day SAS Workshop taught by Mirka Ondrack and Nikolai Slobodianik of the Institute for Social Research’s Statistical Consulting Service. Most days also include a lunch-time speaker who will present an interesting application of the techniques being taught during that session.

Further details about the Program, including a complete timetable and course descriptions, as well as information about program fees, residence accommodations, and the application process are provided at our web-site:

The DEADLINE for applications is April 11, 2008. Because of high demand and the limited space available in the Program, it is necessary to select among applicants. Selection will be based on applicants' previous experience in data analysis, as well as their statements of interest, but an effort will be made to represent all geographic regions and social science research interests.  Applicants will be informed whether they have secured a place in the Program by April 25, 2008.

SPIDA is intended for faculty, researchers and graduate and undergraduate students at Canadian universities, researchers and policy analysts in both public and not-for-profit organizations, and data librarians.

Full-time students are eligible for a modest fee bursary. Some financial support is also available for applicants who live outside the Greater Toronto Area to help cover the costs of travel and accommodation. SPIDA is funded by the Canadian Initiative on Social Statistics, a co-operative project of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and Statistics Canada.

For further inquiries about the Program, please contact Dr. Bryn Greer-Wootten via

7)    Conferences

a)    Statistics Canada Socio-economic Conference, May 5th and 6th, 2008

The organizing committee of the STC Socio-economic conference is pleased to inform you that this year our annual conference will be held May 5th and 6th at the Ottawa Congress Centre.  This conference provides an unparalleled opportunity for analysts to share ideas and learn about the research of others.  This year's conference highlights a number of keynote speakers on topics important to Canadian public policy, including international economic and financial issues, family-work balance, taxes and oil sands as well as the System of National Accounts. They include John Murray, Deputy Governor at the Bank of Canada, Shelley Phipps of the University of Dalhousie, Duncan McDowall of the University of Carleton, and André Plourde of the University of Alberta.  In addition a series of State of the Art Lectures on emerging policy issues, the best analytical methods, and new data will be given by experts.

Please visit the conference web site at for the full program.

b)    6th Annual Statistics Canada RDC program conference, October 17th and 18th, 2008

Call for Papers -- Comings and Goings: Migration, Policy and Society
The Statistics Canada Research Data Centre (RDC) Program invites researchers from any disciplinary field to present their findings at its sixth annual conference. The theme of the conference is migration, both international and internal. The Carleton Ottawa Outaouais Local (COOL) RDC will host the conference at the University of Ottawa. Barry Chiswick of the University of Illinois-Chicago will give a keynote address on current issues in the economics of immigration. Quantitative research that addresses a wide array of questions relating to migration is particularly welcomed. Topics could include:

* Economic, linguistic and residential integration of international immigrants
* The effect of international/internal mobility on child outcomes
* Variations in health status according to ethnic background/country of birth
* The impact of migration on the economies of home and host regions/countries
* Historical approaches to population flows
* Demographic, socio-economic, religious and cultural specificities of different immigrant groups
* Spatial analysis of migratory patterns
* Inter-regional mobility in Canada or abroad

Only research that focuses on migration issues will be considered and priority will be given to work with clear policy implications. Graduate students of all disciplines are encouraged to submit abstracts. Presentations will be in either English or French and simultaneous translation will be provided in all sessions.
Abstracts should not exceed 300 words and must be submitted electronically to by May 9th, 2008. Abstracts may be submitted in either English or French.  In the correspondence, please indicate each author’s status (such as professor, researcher, student or civil servant) and institutional affiliation. Authors will be notified about the selection of papers by July 11th, 2008.  We will request that papers and PowerPoint presentations be submitted by September 1st, 2008 at the latest.
Any questions should be directed to the COOL RDC: (613) 562-5800 X 2887 or

8)    Opportunities with Statistics Canada

a)    Statistics Canada/NICDS/MITACS Research Internships

Statistics Canada, The National Institute for Complex Data Structures (NICDS) and MITACS announce up to three research internship positions at the Methodology Branch within Statistics Canada. Interested Ph.D. students who have already passed the comprehensive exams at a Canadian university, or Postdoctoral students affiliated with a Canadian university, are invited to send their applications (covering letter, CV, and Application Form for Internship) by May 15, 2008 to:

Dr. Georgia Roberts
Statistics Canada
15 "J" R.H. Coats Building
Tunney's Pasture
Ottawa, Ontario

Go to the following address to obtain an Application Form:

Successful applicants will have the extremely valuable experience of working at Statistics Canada in Ottawa for a period of four to six months. The students will be involved in collaborative research with Statistics Canada and university researchers including their own supervisors. Research problems related to statistical methods for any stage of a complex survey will be considered, although of particular interest to Statistics Canada is the development of analytic tools for analysing longitudinal data arising from complex surveys.  

Some possible topics include: analysis of hierarchical survey data, structural equation modelling of survey data, small domain inference, analysis of duration data, and analysis of incomplete survey data. An experienced methodologist from the Methodology Branch will be assigned to work with each student during the stay at Statistics Canada. This collaboration will be mainly in the form of help for the more technical aspects of the doctoral dissertation, in helping with the handling of the data and in interpreting the results. Doctoral advancement and academic supervision would be the responsibility of the applicant and the thesis-supervising professor.

For more information about the NICDS/MITACS project, “Statistical Methods for Complex Survey Data”, of which these internships form a part, go to:

b)    Post-Doctoral Program in Health Research at Statistics Canada

Statistics Canada’s Health Information and Research Division announces a new Post-Doctoral Program in Health Research.  The program is open to recent PhD graduates (within past 3 years) and provides candidates an opportunity to work at Statistics Canada for 1 year.  Applications must be submitted by March 31, 2008.

For more information about the program including instructions on how to apply:

9)    RDC Proposal Submission Process

To access the RDC, researchers must submit a project proposal to a review committee operating under the auspices of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) and Statistics Canada.

The proposal process is done through an on-line application system accessible at:

For more information on the Toronto RDC and how to apply for access, please visit our website at:

Please note that the RDC Program facilitates the use of master data sets.  If you require public use files, please consult your local Data Liberation Initiative (DLI) representative:

Once your proposal has been accepted, you will be invited to the Toronto RDC.  Here, you will receive an orientation on how research is best conducted here, your security pass, a locker for your project’s research materials if required, and a tour of our facilities including a Conference Room where you can meet with your project members and/or advisors, and our Internet Room where you are free to check email or search for and print articles.

10)    Contact Us

For further information on the Toronto RDC or on any other item in this newsletter, please contact:
Toronto RDC
130 St. George St., Room 7032
University of Toronto
Toronto, ON
M5S 1A5
Phone: 416-946-8105
Fax: 416-946-8104

Michael Baker, Academic Director
Phone: 416-946-8107

Tina Hotton Mahony, RDC Analyst
Phone: 416-946-8108

Angela Prencipe, RDC Analyst
Phone: 416-946-8321

Byron Lee, RDC Analyst
Phone: 416-946-8105

Isobel Medel, RDC Administrative Assistant

The Toronto RDC Steering Committee may be contacted through:

Susan Murphy, RDC Manager
222 College Street
Toronto, ON
M5T 3J1
Phone: 416-978-7037
Fax: 416-978-4771

For further information on computing equipment and analytical software available at the Toronto RDC, please contact:

Dave Haans, RDC Research and Computing Consultant
Phone: 416-946-8106