* Notes
This site is not updated any more. Please go to our new site: Ontario Community Health Profiles Partnership (www.OntarioHealthProfiles.ca) for up-to-date contents covering the whole province of Ontario including City of Toronto.

Toronto Community Health Profiles Partnership (TCHPP) - FAQs

Questions about the partnership and the website                 top


  Q: What is the Toronto Community Health Profiles Partnership (TCHPP) website?

This website is sponsored by The Toronto Community Health Profiles Partnership (TCHPP) to make detailed, area-level health data available to everyone. Our goal is to support action to reduce health inequities in Toronto. For more information see About Us.

  Q: Who created Toronto Community Health Profiles Partnership?

Since the mid 1990's members of the Toronto Community Health Profiles Partnership have been providing community-level demographic, socioeconomic, and population health information to community organizations and health and social services providers throughout Toronto. This vital information was not readily available to all service providers, particularly community-based programs that found themselves serving some of the city's most vulnerable populations with little information about those populations. As a group of epidemiologists, medical geographers and academic health researchers, the partnership members had access to this important data, and had the expertise to produce and provide the key health indicator statistics and maps using consistent data standards, methods and definitions. An important knowledge gap was being filled, however we were not reaching all community-based service providers, planners, and policy-makers.

In 2005 the Toronto Community Health Profiles Partnership launched this website with the purpose of making detailed, area-level health data available to everyone. We provide health profiles of Toronto communities for Toronto communities, with relevant and timely information.

Data-sharing partners include government, public health professionals, community health providers and researchers.

This site complements other health information sites (Health Quality Ontario, Statistics Canada Health Indicators, Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI), Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences, Toronto Public Health) and neighbourhood data (City of Toronto) sites with small area community health data not otherwise available. In order to reduce duplication, users are referred to the City of Toronto Neighbourhood Profiles for neighbourhood level maps and detailed socio-demographic indicators and to Wellbeing Toronto for other neighbourhood indicators.

Our overall goal is to support action to reduce health inequities in Toronto, and ultimately Ontario (through inclusion of selected indicators for other Ontario communities).


  Q: What kind of information can I find here?

We provide health and health-related indicators in three basic forms:
Community-level health indicators - this micro-data provides detailed statistics about populations living in communities by sex and relevant age-groups for each health indicator. We also provide information about how the community compares with the overall city values and whether this difference is meaningful. These data are available in table format.
Toronto or Ontario-wide health indicators - this macro-data provides an overview of how different communities within Toronto or Ontario compare with each other with respect to specific health indicators. These data are shown on maps with different colours representing different values across communities.
Equity analyses - graphs are used to show how values of indicators compare across income and immigration quintiles. These analyses do not have a geographic component and are not community-based. These analyses focus on specific population sub-groups based on immigration status and area-level income.

The site also includes links to other sources and resources for geographic and non-geographic community health equity research and planning (e.g. health information about people who are homeless, ethno-specific health research, refugee and uninsured populations, LGBT communities, people with disabilities, etc.) not captured in administrative data sources that can be used to produce health indicators at the neighbourhood or community level.

Questions about data                 top


  Q: What is the National Household Survey and How Is It Related to The Canadian Census?

A census is a complete enumeration of a population and provides basic information on population and dwelling characteristics¹.
Most countries conduct censuses on five- or 10-year cycles. In Canada, the census is collected by Statistics Canada every five years. Prior to 2011, collection was split between a short-form census delivered to all households in Canada and a long-form census, which was completed by 20% of households. The short-form contained a small subset of questions, while the long-form included detailed questions on socioeconomic status, family structure, and dwelling characteristics. For the 2011 Census, the long-form was discontinued and was replaced by the National Household Survey (NHS), a voluntary survey received by approximately 33% of Canadian households².
¹ Armitage P, Berry G, Matthews JNS. Statistical methods in medical research. 4th ed. Malden, Massachusetts:
   Blackwell Science; 2002.
² Statistics Canada. NHS: Questions and answers. 2011 Jun 2 [cited 2011 Jun 13].

  Q: Where can I get more information about the data?

For information about definitions, data quality & limitations, and selection & preparation of variables, please visit our About the Data page.

  Q: When do you plan to publish the latest `Disability/Activity Limitation` data on your website?

Unfortunately the 2011 Census of Canada (2011 Census) has no data on disability/limitation. However, some questions on activity limitation were asked in the 2011 National Household Survey (NHS). These questions refer to conditions or health problems that have lasted or are expected to last six months or more. For young children, it only considers those conditions or problems that have been diagnosed by a professional.
The 2011 NHS questions on activity limitation provide information on the number of people in Canada who have difficulties with daily activities, and whose activities are reduced because of a physical or mental condition or a health problem. These questions, which are intended to only be used as filter questions for a follow up survey, do not provide an estimate of disability in Canada.
The 2012 Canadian Survey on Disability (CSD), which is conducted as a follow up survey to the NHS, is the main source of disability data in Canada. The population covered by the CSD includes all adults who answered 'yes' to either of the activity limitation questions on the NHS. CSD data are available only at the national and provincial level - that is why we are not reporting the data on our site but only providing a link. Please check our Resources page.

  Q: Can I use responses to the National Household filter questions on disability to estimate disability?

The main reason that responses to the NHS filter questions cannot be used to estimate disability in Canada is the large number of `false positives.` For example, a respondent may have reported a limitation on the NHS but did not report a disability on the Canadian Survey of Disability (CSD). There can be a number of reasons for these false positives such as the response may have been obtained by proxy whereby the person answering the NHS believed that the individual in question had some type of activity limitation or disability, however, the individual did not consider him or herself to have any type of limitation at the time of the CSD. Other examples of false positives are persons who were injured, sick or recovering from surgery at the time of the NHS but no longer limited in their activities at the time of the CSD. As a result of this phenomenon, it is essential that users of the NHS Activity Limitation data be aware that the filter questions cannot be used on their own as an estimate of the population with a disability.

  Q: Why are some of your indicators combining lots of years of data, e.g. Mothers and Babies 2009-2011?

Combining years of data from 2 to 5 years is done to minimize small numbers in the numerator and denominator and to protect confidentiality. It also allows reporting of data at lower levels of geography.

  Q: What is an `indicator`?

`A health indicator is a single measure that is reported on regularly and that provides relevant and actionable information about population health and/or health system performance and characteristics. An indicator can provide comparable information, as well as track progress and performance over time.`
Canadian Institute for Health Information, Health System Performance. Web. 15 December 2015.

  Q: How did you decide which indicators to include on the TCHPP website?

Please visit our About the Data page and see `Data Standards` document - Selecting Indicators.

  Q: Why haven`t you updated the Premature Mortality (PM) and Leading Causes of PM indicator to reflect
       more current data?

The recently released 2011 death data has raised a number of questions regarding how the data was processed and the resulting number of unknown residence geography values.

The death file is received at the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC) from the Ontario Registrar General (ORG) via Statistics Canada. Statistics Canada currently uses postal codes to assign municipality of residence.

The 2011 death file has 4% of the postal codes for Ontario residents missing compared with a negligible percent in 2010 and other recent years. Consequently, all the geographic fields that are derived from postal code or municipality have a higher percentage of missing data. The percentage difference between 2010 and 2011 death data is 1,300 deaths or 8%. We suspect that a lot of the missing postal codes are in Toronto.

Statistics Canada has advised that they are pursuing the missing postal codes with the ORG. To date (as of January 15, 2015) they have not advised about issuing an update to the 2011 death data.

We therefore cannot, at this time, use the 2011 death data to create or provide meaningful profiles, excel data tables nor maps at any level of geography (i.e. Neighbourhood, Health Link or LHIN intersecting Toronto) for the TCHPP site for the Premature Mortality/Leading Causes of Premature Mortality indicator.

  Q: Will there be a 2011 version of ON-Marg?

We are currently collaborating with Public Health Ontario to re-create the ON-Marg using the census and other data sources. We hope to have the index available as early as March 2016. We will keep you posted.

Questions about maps                 top


  Q: What can I infer from the maps?

Maps are a visual illustration of spatial characteristics of data. They help to identify areas of concern, where, for example, there are high concentrations of factors negatively impacting health outcomes, or regions with elevated rates of diseases. Maps can be also considered as a complementary element to tabular data. They help identify spatial patterns and formulate additional hypothesis based on those patterns.

  Q: What is the difference between different map types?

There are several map types on this site.

Choropleth or shaded maps depict rates or ratios, for example `Annual Rate of Chlamydia per 100,000`. These maps are constructed using either `natural breaks` [NB], or `populated-weighted quintiles` [PWQ] data classes. Data classes are simply different ways of grouping data values into ranges depicted on a choropleth map by a specific shade of a colour. `Natural breaks` is a more common way we classify the data on maps on this site. For more info on choropleth maps and data classification methods please see `How to Read the Maps` in the `About the Data` tab.

Rate-Ratio [RR] maps compare the rate of the depicted variable in the given area (e.g. neighbourhood) to the average rate of this variable for the whole study region (e.g. Toronto). If the rate in the given area is higher than the one in the study area the rate-ratio value is greater than 1. If the rate in the area is lower than in the study region`s one the RR value is less than 1. RR maps also show whether the differences between the rates in specific areas and the overall study area rate are statistically significant or not. For more info on rate-ratio maps please see `How to Read the Maps` in the `About the Data` tab.

  Q: Can I use maps exclusively for my research and omit the use of relevant data tables?

Yes, but caution needs to be applied when drawing conclusions just based on maps. Maps and tabular data are meant most of the times as complementary pieces of information and ideally they both should be used in the research or policy-oriented processes. In addition to these two elements the expert knowledge of the area`s or population`s characteristics should be also applied.
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