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2A Commuting Population

DescriptionSpecific Indicators | Ontario Public Health Standards (OPHS)| Corresponding Health Indicator(s) from Statistics Canada and CIHICorresponding Indicator(s) from Other Sources | Data Sources |  Survey Questions | Alternative Data Sources | Analysis Check List | Method of Calculation |  Basic Categories | Indicator Comments | Cross-References to Other IndicatorsCited References | Changes Made Acknowledgements


Proportion of employed labour force 15 years of age and over with usual place of work in different census subdivision (CSD) from usual place of residence.

Commuting is linked to local economies and provides some indication of economic linkages in both urban and rural communities and the degree of integration in labour markets. (1) 

 Specific Indicators

·         Commuting Population

Ontario Public Health Standards (OPHS)

The Ontario Public Health Standards (OPHS) establish requirements for the fundamental public health programs and services carried out by boards of health, which include assessment and surveillance, health promotion and policy development, disease and injury prevention, and health protection. The OPHS consist of one Foundational Standard and 13 Program Standards that articulate broad societal goals that result from the activities undertaken by boards of health and many others, including community partners, non-governmental organizations, and governmental bodies. These results have been expressed in terms of two levels of outcomes: societal outcomes and board of health outcomes. Societal outcomes entail changes in health status, organizations, systems, norms, policies, environments, and practices and result from the work of many sectors of society, including boards of health, for the improvement of the overall health of the population. Board of health outcomes are the results of endeavours by boards of health and often focus on changes in awareness, knowledge, attitudes, skills, practices, environments, and policies. Boards of health are accountable for these outcomes. The standards also outline the requirements that boards of health must implement to achieve the stated results.  

Outcomes Related to this Indicator 

·         Societal Outcome (Foundational Standard): Population health needs are anticipated, identified, addressed, and evaluated.

Assessment and/or Surveillance Requirements Related to this Indicator

  • The board of health shall assess current health status, health behaviours, preventive health practices, health care utilization relevant to public health, and demographic indicators in accordance with the Population Health Assessment and Surveillance Protocol, 2008 (or as current). 
Protocol Requirements Related to this Indicator
  • The board of health shall analyze population health data and interpret the information to describe the distribution of health outcomes, preventive health practices, risk factors, determinants of health, and other relevant information to assess the overall health of its population (Population Health Assessment and Surveillance Protocol 2.b.).
  • The board of health shall collect or access the following types of population health data and information:

i)              Socio-demographics including population counts by age, sex, education, income, housing, language, immigration, culture, ability/disability, and cost of a nutritious food basket;

Corresponding Health Indicator from Statistics Canada and CIHI

  • None

Corresponding Indicators from Other Sources

Population count of total employed labour force 15 years and over by place of work status - 20% sample data2011 National Household Survey

  • Select National Household Survey
  •  Select NHS Data tables
  • Select Education and Labour
  • Select product 99-012-X2011032 Commuting Flow.
  • Select location of interest and ensure Place of Residence is selected. Commuting counts by CSD are shown with totals and by sex.

Data at the Census Metropolitan Area level is also in product 99-012-X2011064 by commuting distance and with a variety of filters.Census [method will vary depending on archiving method] 

  • Select Census of Canada 2006
  • Select Census of interest and click on Place of work and commuting to work 
  • Click on Cumulative profile and release components: Labour market activity, Industry, Occupation, Education, Language of work, Place of work and mode of transportation 
  • Select geographical level of interest (e.g. Census Metropolitan Areas and Census Agglomerations with Census Subdivisions).
  • Use the estimates provided in Total employed labour force 15 years and over by place of work status - 20% sample data in Method of Calculation using the count for the usual place of work as a different census subdivision as the numerator.

Data Sources (see Resources: Data Sources)

Numerator & Denominator: Census (20% sample) or National Household Survey (2011 onwards);

Original source: Statistics Canada
Distributed by: Statistics Canada
Suggested citation (see Data Citation Notes): [year] Census, Statistics Canada
[year] National Household Survey, Statistics Canada

Survey Questions  

Survey & Question #

Question 46 in 2006 Census/2011 NHS


At what address did this person usually work most of the time? 

Response Options1:

Worked at home (including farms) Go to Question 492: Worked outside Canada (Go to Question 49)3: No fixed workplace address4: Worked at the address specified below 
(Specify complete address: Street, City, Province/Territory, Postal Code)

Accompanying Instructions to the Interviewer 

Alternative Data Sources


Analysis Check List

  • Data is available for the total employed labour force or by sex (male/female).
  • Data is available as place of work in census subdivision of residence or in different census subdivision.

Method of Calculation  

Commuting Population: Total employed labour force 15+ years and over with usual place of work in different CSD x 100 
Total employed labour force 15+ years and over  

Basic Categories

  • Total labour force
  • Male labour force
  • Female labour force
  • Geographic areas: Available data depends on the data source (Census/NHS).  For the NHS, data is available at Canada, provinces, territories, census divisions, census metropolitan areas (CMA), census agglomerations, census subdivisions.

Indicator Comments
  • For persons who indicated they 'Worked at home' or 'Worked at the address specified below' (a usual place of work), the street address, city, town, village, township, municipality or Indian reserve, province or territory and postal code of their workplace was used to assign geographic codes identifying the workplace location.
  • Data on workplace locations are usually disseminated at the census subdivision and census tract levels of geography, but can be produced at other levels upon request by Statistics Canada. Aggregating workplace location representative points can approximate non-standard or user-defined query areas, such as traffic zones.
  • Data on persons working in census metropolitan areas or census agglomerations are coded to a block-face, dissemination block or dissemination area representative point.
  • Data on persons working outside census metropolitan areas and census agglomerations are coded to census subdivision representative points; therefore the census subdivision is the smallest geographic area available for these areas.
  • The National Household Survey assumes that the commute to work originates from the usual place of residence, but this may not always be the case. In some cases, respondents may be on a business trip and may have reported their place of work or mode of transportation based on where they were working during the trip. Some persons maintain a residence close to work and commute to their home on weekends. (2)
  • Students often work after school at a location near their school. As a result, the data may show unusual commutes and an unusual mode of transportation. (2)
  • Small areas may be suppressed if the global non-response rate is 50% or greater. (3)
Cross-References to Other Sections
  • None

Cited References
  1. Harris S, Alasia A, Bollman RD. Rural commuting. Statistics Canada Available from: URL: Last modified: 2009-10-22  Accessed May 28, 2012.
  2. Statistics Canada. 2013. Journey to Work Reference Guide. National Household Survey 2011. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 99-012-X2011008. Ottawa. Ottawa.  (Mar 24, 2014).
  3. Statistics Canada. 2013. NHS User Guide. National Household Survey 2011. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 99-001-X2011001. Ottawa. Ottawa. (Mar 24, 2014).

Changes Made

Type of Review – Formal Review or Ad Hoc?Changes made byChanges Made    Date  


 Social Determinants of Health Subgroup

 New section on OPHS added

Corresponding Health Indicators from Statistics Canada and CIHI updated

Alternate data source updated to current Statistics Canada web structure

Data source information updated to include questions from NHS/Census

Added detailed comments

Updated references  

July 23 2014 


Lead Author(s)

Cam McDermaid
Contributing Author(s)
Dinna Lozano, Virginia McFarland, Luanne Jamieson, William Kou 
Core Indicator Reviewers
External Reviewers
Sean Marshall

Date of Last Revision: July 2014
Posted: July 23, 2014

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