What is CANSIM? How do I access it?

Note: Statistics Canada announced that its online data will be free starting February, 2012.

CANSIM is the socio-economic data available through Statistics Canada:  CANSIM stands for Canadian Socio-economic Information Management System. This resource is updated daily with the latest Canadian statistics on a wide range of topics, including crime, health, education, population, manufacturing, transporation, and more.


I need statistical information: where do I go?!

Updated November, 2016

The best place to go for Canadian statistical information is Statistics Canada.  This website has received a major face lift over the last year or two, and is slightly more user-friendly as a result.

Statistics Canada is now providing census, socioeconomic, and geographic data for free. CANSIM is a key socioeconomic database that is updated daily. From the CANSIM homepage, you can either search by keyword, or you can try browsing by subject or survey. The advanced search option will allow you to be more specific in your search.

If you are searching for census or geographic data, you can search the main Statistic’s Canada page.

  • Enter a keyword into the “Search Website” space at the top right corner of the main StatsCan page. If you want to narrow down your search, choose “Advanced Search” – this will help you find what you’re looking for more quickly.
  • You can also try browsing by subject from the bottom of the main StatsCan page.


If you need statistical information on a country other than Canada, the principal is the same: find the governmental branch that collects statistics (or at least the census) and look for a search feature.

The United States, though, doesn’t have a central government agency that collects statistics.  Instead, you can use the following sites:

  • FedStats: breaks down available statistical information by subject. Also includes MapStats, where you can search for stats by geography, and much much more!
  • US Census Bureau: the typical information you’d find from a census
  • Bureau of Economic Analysis: for economic data

Thank you to Jeff Moon of Queens University for his assistance with this post!