Population-based surveys

This section of the toolkit presents certain population-based surveys conducted mainly by Statistics Canada and the Institut de la statistique du Québec (ISQ). The surveys selected in the toolkit present questions related to mental health or other indicators of interest to conduct post-disaster surveillance. Table 1 summarizes each of the surveys. As is true of the surveillance systems described in the preceding section, the surveys can be conducted on a more or less regular basis. It can be difficult to access the surveys through certain databases and geographic coverage may be insufficient for the needs of post-disaster surveillance. Accordingly, certain surveys may not be useful for post-disaster surveillance but can still provide statistics that facilitate comparisons, e. g. to obtain statistics on the situation prior to the disaster or for a control group, and so on. In the case of population-based surveys, they also give access to validated questions and instruments, in French and in English. Professionals must clearly ascertain their limitations before using the surveys.

Table 1 - Summary of the population-based surveys useful for the surveillance of mental health impacts
Survey Year of data collection Target population Geographical coverage Number of respondents Contents

Québec surveys

Québec Population Health Survey (QPHS)


People 15 years of age and over living in a private household in Québec.

  • Regional scope (HR);
  • Six regions oversampled by LSN;
  • Covers 16 of the 18 HRs, excluding the Cree Territory of James Bay and Nunavik.

38 154 individuals.

Physical and mental health, lifestyle habits that affect health, perceived health status, psychological distress, injuries and musculoskeletal disorders, oral health, weight status and the use of slimming products or means, drug use, sexual behaviour and the use of contraception, and health behaviours specific to women.


People 15 years of age and over living in a private household in Québec.

  • Local scope (LSN);
  • One region oversampled per local community service centre territory;
  • Covers 17 of the 18 HRs, excluding Nunavik.

45 760 respondents.

The content was similar to that in 2008.

Québec Health Survey of High School Students (QHSHSS)

2010-2011; 2016-2017

Secondary I to V students registered in the youth sector in French- and English-language Québec public and private schools.

  • Covers 16 of the 18 HRs, excluding the Cree Territory of James Bay and Nunavik;
  • Regional scope (HR);
  • In 2010-2011: Eight regions oversampled by LSN or by SB;
  • In 2016-2017: Nine regions were oversampled by LSN and one by SB, RCM or local community service centre.

Approximately 63 000 students.

Perception of health status, respiratory health, dietary habits, sexual behaviour, weight and body image, oral health, cigarette smoking, alcohol use, drug use, work experience, physical leisure activity and transportation, mental health (including psychological distress), behavioural adequacy, school environment, family environment, characteristics of the peer group, sociodemographic conditions and sociodemographic characteristics.


Québec Survey of Smoking, Alcohol, Drugs and Gambling in High School Students (QSSADGHSS)

2004, 2006, 2008, 2013

Secondary I to V students registered in the youth sector in French- and English-language Québec public and private schools.

  • Province-wide survey, excluding the Nord-du-Québec region, the Cree Territory of James Bay and Nunavik.

Between 4 500 and 4 900 students, depending on the cycle.

Smoking (consumption, social factors, exposure to second-hand smoke, attempts to give up smoking, e-cigarettes), alcohol use and drug use, gambling, level of physical leisure activity and transportation, dietary habits and physical appearance.

Québec Survey of Child Development in Kindergarten (QSCDK)

2012; 2017

Children 5 years of age attending kindergarten full time in Québec.

  • Regional and local scope (HR, LSN, RCM, local community service centre);
  • Covers 16 of the 18 HRs, excluding the Cree Territory of James Bay and Nunavik.
  • 2012 : 63 087 respondents;
  • 2017 : 81 372 respondents;

Teachers completed the questionnaire.
Physical health and well-being (motor skills, fatigue, physical preparation, and so on), behavioural adequacy (self-confidence, sense of responsibility, respect for peers, and so on), affective maturity (hyperactivity, inattention, anxiety, sadness, and so on), cognitive and language development (interest and skill in literacy, interest and skill in mathematics, and so on), communications skills and general knowledge (ability to articulate clearly, ability to understand, ability to communicate, and so on).

Enquête québécoise sur les limitations d'activités, les maladies chroniques et le vieillissement (EQLAV)


  • Individuals 15 years of age and over with a disability or who report a long-term health problem;
  • Individuals 65 years of age and over with or without a disability or a long-term health problem.
  • Regional scope (HR);
  • Covers 16 of the 18 HRs, excluding the Cree Territory of James Bay and Nunavik.

24 772 respondents.

The nature and severity of the disability, medications, information and self-management, emergency departments, hospitalizations and day surgery, home health care, specialized rehabilitation services for the physically or intellectually impaired, specialized rehabilitation services devoted to mental health, alcohol addiction and drug addiction, psychosocial medical follow-up, assistance for activities of daily living or household activities, lifestyle habit measurements and markers of frailty.

Canadian surveys

Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) – Annual Component

2000-2001, 2003, 2005

Canadians 12 years of age and over.

  • The 10 Canadian provinces and the three territories;
  • Regional scope (HR);
  • In Québec, the Nunavik region is excluded from all the cycles and the Cree Territory of James Bay region is included in only one cycle (2003);
  • Certain regions are oversampled.

Roughly 130 000 respondents in Canada and roughly 24 000 in Québec.

  • Three types of content: common content, optional content and quick-response content.
  • The contents differ from one cycle to the next but encompass information on health status, reliance on health services and health determinants: alcohol addiction and consumption, medication use, mood, consultation concerning mental health, positive mental health, depression, distress, illicit drug use, compulsive gambling, psychological well-being, social support, stress, suicidal thoughts and attempted suicide, smoking

Since 2007, data have been collected annually

Canadians 12 years of age and over.

  • The 10 Canadian provinces and the three territories;
  • Regional scope (HR);
  • In Québec, the survey covers 16 of the 18 HRs, excluding the James Bays Creed Lands and Nunavik;
  • Certain regions are oversampled.

Data are collected annually on a sample of roughly 65 000 Canadians, including roughly 12 000 residing in Québec.

Since 2007, the content of the CCHS has been similar to that in the first three cycles, although the content of certain modules was modified. In 2015, the modules were completely reorganized, which may mean that certain statistics for 2015 are not comparable in relation to previous cycles.

Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) – Mental Health

2002, 2012

Canadians 15 years of age and over.

  • The 10 Canadian provinces;
  • Provincial scope;
  • In 2002, certain provinces were oversampled.
  • 2002: roughly 37 000 respondents;
  • 2012: 25 000 respondents.

Mental health status (mental illness continuums, positive mental health, mental illness, drug-related disorders), information on access and perceived needs from the standpoint of formal and informal services and support, functioning and disabilities.

Canadian Health Measures Survey (CHMS)

2007-2009, 2010-2011, 2012-2013, 2014-2015, 2016-2017, 2018-2019

Canadians 3 to 79 years ofage (or 6 to 79 years of age depending on the cycle).

National scope (Canada) in the 10 provinces. At least two data collection cycles must be combined to obtain statistics at the provincial level.

Roughly 5 700 respondents per data collection.

  • Data collection occurs in two stages: interview in the respondent’s home followed by a visit to the CHMS mobile clinic (physical measurements are made and blood and urine samples are collected).
  • Cardiovascular health, nutritional status, chronic diseases, physical activity, exposure to infectious diseases and environmental contaminants, and the risk factors and the attendant health behaviour.

Census and National Household Survey (NHS)

Every five years since 1951

Everyone who usually resides in Canada.

Covers the provinces and territories and includes, among others, individuals living on Indian reserves.

Varies over time.

  • The short form collects information on age, sex, marital status and mother tongue.
  • The long form collects more extensive information, including ethnic origin, employment, and so on.

Surveys of the Aboriginal peoples

Aboriginal Peoples Survey (APS)

1991, 2001, 2006, 2012

Population 6 years of age and over that identifies as First Nation, Métis or Inuit and does not live on a reserve.

National scope (Canada) among First Nations members, the Métis and Inuit who do not live on a reserve.

Roughly 28 000 respondents in 2012.

  • The APS seeks to determine the needs of the Aboriginal peoples and emphasizes questions such as education, employment, health, language, income, housing and mobility.
  • In 2012, the health-related themes encompassed general health status, pregnancy and childbirth, consultations with health professionals or traditional healers, chronic health problems, body mass index, smoking, alcohol use, drug use, food security, distress, suicide, mental health, injuries, social support and social problems in the community.

First Nations Regional Early Childhood, Education and Employment Survey



First Nations members of any age living on a reserve or in a northern community.

First Nations community (reserve or northern community) in 10 regions of Canada.

Roughly 21 000 respondents.

Questionnaire unavailable.

First Nations Regional Health Survey (ERS)

1997, 2002, 2008, 2015-2016

  • Eight nations in Québec: Abénakis, Algonquin, Atikamekw, Innu, Mi’gmaq, Mohawk, Naskapis and Wendat;
  • All age groups are covered.

Eight nations in Québec.

Roughly 2 700 respondents in 2008.

Housing, migration, Indian boarding schools, individual well-being, community well-being, diet, physical activity, smoking, alcohol, drugs, games of chance, sexual health, chronic diseases, injuries, early childhood services, preventive health care, dental care, homecare services, access to health care and satisfaction with services, mental health, depression, traditional medicine, violence.

Qanuippitaa? How are we? National Inuit Health Survey in Nunavik


  • Residents of all ages of communities in Nunavik (mainly Inuit);
  • Data collected household.

All communities in Nunavik (n = 14).

Roughly 1 100 respondents.

Chronic diseases, injuries, hearing, zoonotic diseases, waterborne diseases, physical activity, smoking, alcohol use, drug, health services utilization, medication, perceived health status, suicide, violence, diet, social support, risk factors for cardiovascular disease, biological measurements (selenium, omega-3, environmental contaminants).


Qanuilirpitaa? How are we now? National Inuit Health Survey in Nunavik


  • The residents of communities in Nunavik 16 years of age and over (mainly Inuit);
  • Individual data collection;
  • Includes the adults in the 2004 cohort.

All communities in Nunavik (n = 14).

Roughly 1 300 respondents.

Similar to 2004 but without hearing, physical activity and medication. In 2017, several biological measurements drawn from blood, urine and stool samples were conducted.

Cree Health Survey (Canadian Community Health Survey)


Residents 12 years of age and over in the Cree Territory of James Bay.

All communities in the Cree Territory of James Bay (n = 9).

Roughly 1 000 respondents.

Dietary habits, physical activity, body weight, smoking, lifestyle habits, alcohol use, drug use, gambling, preventive practices and changes to improve health, health status, life expectancy, limitation of activities, injuries and safety in transportation, mental health, use and appreciation of health services.

CLSC : Local community service centre.
SB : School board.
RCM : Regional county municipality.
LSN : Local service network.
HR : Health region.

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