Seniors Methodology

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation conducts the Seniors’ Housing Survey in February of each year. This annual survey became national in scope in 2009, covering all centres in each of the ten provinces. Both private and non-profit residences are included in the survey universe.

To be eligible for inclusion in the survey results, a residence must:

  • have at least one unit that is not subsidized (in the Atlantic provinces, Quebec and Ontario);
  • have been in operation for at least one year (for example, it must have started operation before January 2012 to be included in the 2013 survey);
  • have at least 10 rental units (in Quebec, Ontario and the Prairies) or 5 rental units (in the Atlantic provinces and B.C.);
  • offer an on-site meal plan;
  • not mandate high levels of health care (defined as 1.5 hours or more of care per day) to all of its residents; nursing homes and long-term care homes are examples of residences that were not included in the survey;
  • offer rental units; life lease units and owner-occupied units are excluded from this survey; and
  • have at least 50 per cent of its residents who are 65 years of age or older.

The Seniors’ Housing Survey is a census and not a sample survey; therefore, all seniors’ residences in Canada meeting these criteria are to be part of this survey. The survey universe in Quebec may include private residences that do not meet the conditions for obtaining a certificate of compliance.

Survey data were obtained through a combination of telephone interviews and fax and e-mail responses. Information was obtained from the residence owner, manager or administrator. Survey results reflect market conditions at the time of the survey. Survey results have been weighted to adjust for non-responses, in order to ensure that they are reflective of the universe. The level of statistical reliability is noted in the data tables.

All statistics published, excluding information on new market supply, include only those residences that have been in operation for at least one year.


Space: A space is a residential area that is rented out. Examples of spaces include one half of a semi-private unit, a private or bachelor unit, a one-bedroom unit and a two-bedroom unit. In most cases, a space is the same as a unit. The exception is the case where a unit has been divided to rent to multiple residents. Semi-private and ward units are an example of this. Unless otherwise indicated, data for spaces are for all unit types.

Standard space: A space where the resident does not receive high-level care (that is, the resident receives less than 1.5 hours of care per day) or is not required to pay an extra amount to receive high-level care. Regional terms for this type of space may vary across the country.

Heavy care space: A space where the resident is paying an extra amount to receive high-level care (1.5 hours or more of care per day). Examples of conditions that could require high-level care include Alzheimer’s, dementia and reduced mobility.

Respite space: A space used to provide temporary accommodation for a senior who normally lives in another place and not at the residence.

Non-market or subsidy space: A space where the rent received for the unit is less than market rent or where the resident occupying the unit is subsidized.

Rent: The actual amount a resident pays per month for his or her accommodation space and all mandatory services. For vacant spaces, the rent is the amount the owner is asking for the space.

Vacancy: A space is considered vacant if, at the time of the survey, it is physically unoccupied and available for immediate rental.

Capture rate: The main age group living in seniors’ residences are persons aged 75 years and older. Capture rate in a centre is the ratio of the total number of residents living in the survey universe divided by its estimated 75+ population, expressed as a percentage.


The Seniors’ Housing Survey could not have been conducted without the co-operation of the residence owners and their staff. CMHC acknowledges their time and assistance in providing accurate information. As a result of their contribution, CMHC is able to provide data and analysis that benefits the entire industry.


All information provide through this survey is kept strictly confidential and only used by CMHC to generate statistics and data sets that do not allow for the identification of individuals, households, businesses or buildings.

Data Reliability Measures

CMHC does not publish a statistic if its reliability is too low or if publication of a statistic would violate confidentiality rules:

For confidentiality, unit counts (universe) are released; however, all other estimates - such as vacancy rates and average rent - are released only if a given estimate is based on four or more responding entities.

For reliability, the ability to publish an estimate is determined by the coefficient of variation (CV) for that estimate. A letter code representing the statistical reliability (i.e., the coefficient of variation (CV)) for each estimate is provided to indicate the data reliability. CV of an estimate is defined as the ratio of the standard error of the estimate to the estimate itself and the CV is generally expressed a percentage. For example, let the average rent for one bedroom apartments in a given CMA be x̄ and its standard error be σ. Then the Coefficient of Variation is given by CV = σ / x̄.

Reliability Codes for Proportions

CMHC uses CV, sampling fraction and universe size to determine the ability to publish proportions. The following letter codes are used to indicate the level of reliability of proportions:

  • A — Excellent
  • B — Very good
  • C — Good
  • D — Poor (use with caution)
  • ** — Data suppressed

The following two tables indicate the level of reliability of proportions:

If the proportion is zero (0) and the sampling fraction is less than 100% then the following levels are assigned:

Sampling Fraction (%) range
Structures in Universe (0,20]* (20,40] (40,60] (60,80] (80,100)
3 – 10**** ** ** **
11 – 20**Poor PoorPoorGood
21 – 40**Poor PoorGoodVery Good
41 – 80**Poor GoodGoodVery Good
81+** Good GoodVery GoodVery Good

*(0, 20] means sampling fraction is greater than 0% but less than or equal to 20%; others are similar

Otherwise, the following table is used to determine the reliability level of proportions:

Coefficient of Variation (CV) %
Percentage 0 (0, 5] (5, 10] (10, 16.5] (16.5, 33.3] (33.3, 50] 50+
(0, 0.75)ExcellentExcellentExcellentExcellentExcellentV. GoodV. Good
(0.75, 1.5)ExcellentExcellentExcellentExcellentExcellentPoor**
(1.5, 3)ExcellentExcellentExcellentV. GoodGood****
(3, 6)ExcellentExcellentV. GoodGoodPoor****
(6, 10)ExcellentExcellentV. GoodGood******
(10, 15)ExcellentExcellentGoodPoor******
(15, 30)ExcellentExcellentPoor********
(30, 100)ExcellentExcellent**********

Reliability Codes for Averages and Totals

CMHC uses the CV to determine the reliability level of the estimates of average rents and a CV cut-off of 10% for publication of totals and averages. It is felt that this level of reliability best balances the need for high quality data and not publishing unreliable data.

CMHC assigns a level of reliability as follows (CV’s are given in percentages):

  • A — If the CV is greater than 0 and less than or equal to 2.5 then the level of reliability is Excellent.
  • B — If the CV is greater than 2.5 and less than or equal to 5 then the level of reliability is Very Good.
  • C — If the CV is greater than 5 and less than or equal to 7.5 then the level of reliability is Good.
  • D — If the CV is greater than 7.5 and less than or equal to 10 then the level of reliability is Poor (use with caution).
  • ** — If the CV is greater than 10 then the estimate is suppressed and not published.
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