This issue describes in detail the health region limits as of December 2015 and their correspondence with the 2011 and 2006 Census geography. Health regions are defined by the provinces and represent administrative areas or regions of interest to health authorities. This product contains correspondence files (linking health regions to census geographic codes) and digital boundary files. User documentation provides an overview of health regions, sources, methods, limitations and product description (file format and layout).
This issue contains the health region limits as of December 2015 and their correspondence with 2011 Census geography.
The boundaries, health region codes and health region names in Ontario have not changed.
Appendices and tables
- Appendix 1 Health regions in Canada, 2015 (names and codes)
- Appendix 2 Summary of changes to health regions, 2014 and 2015
- Appendix 3 Detailed list of census subdivisions split by two or more health regions, 2015
- Table 1 Health regions and relevant legislation, by province, 2015
- Table 2 Census geography definitions
- Table 3 2011 Census health region correspondence file layout
- Table 4 2006 Census health region correspondence file layout
- Table 5 Census subdivisions linked to more than one health region
In recent years there has been an increasing demand for relevant health information at a ‘community’ level. As a result, health regions have become an important geographic unit by which health and health-related data are produced.
Health regions are legislated administrative areas defined by provincial ministries of health. These administrative areas represent geographic areas of responsibility for hospital boards or regional health authorities. Health regions, being provincial administrative areas, are subject to change.
The 2015 Health Regions: Boundaries and Correspondence with Census Geography reflects the boundaries as of December 2015 and provides the geographic linkage to 2011 and 2006 Censuses.
The generic term “health region” applies to a variety of administrative areas across Canada that are defined by provincial ministries of health. To complete the Canadian coverage, each northern territory is represented as health region.
The following table describes the health regions, by province, with reference to the provincial legislation under which these areas have been defined.
Health region code structure
A four digit numeric code is used to uniquely identify health regions. The first two digits represent the province, and the second two digits represent the health region. These codes reflect the same codes used by the provincial ministries of health. For those provinces where a numeric code is not applicable, a two-digit code was assigned. Ontario uses a 4-digit code for public health units. This code was truncated to the last two digits for consistency in the national health region code structure. Since Ontario has two sets of health regions, which do not entirely relate hierarchically, their codes are unique within the province.
The names of the health regions also represent the official names used by the provinces.
See Appendix 1 Health regions in Canada, 2015 (names and codes).
Production of health region level data requires geographic coding tools. Since census geography does not recognize provincial health region boundaries, a health region-to-census geography correspondence file provides the linkage between health regions and their component census geographic units. These correspondence files use the smallest relevant census geographic unit.
To accommodate various data sources producing health region level data, linkage has been created for both 2011 and 2006 Census geographies. The layout of these correspondence files includes the seven-digit Standard geographic classification (SGC) code. The SGC code uniquely represents census subdivisions (CSD).
Most health regions comprise entire CSDs (see Table 2). However, there are some cases where health regions do not conform to municipalities. The 2006 Census linkage was created at the dissemination area (DA) level and block level for British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Ontario (LHINs). Even these smaller geographic areas (DA/blocks) sometimes straddle health region boundaries. In those cases, the entire DA (or block) was assigned, in conjunction with the affected province, to just one health region and therefore represents a ‘best fit’ with census geography.
Other data sources use postal codes to geographically reference data records. These data are first converted to census geographic units using the Statistics Canada postal code conversion file, and then linked to health regions based on the correspondence file.
The dissemination area/block-to-health region (DA/block-to-HR) correspondence files provided in this publication are available in CSV format.
The record layout of the files is shown in the following tables.
|DBUID2011||Uniquely identifies a dissemination block (composed of the 2-digit province or territory unique identifier followed by the 2-digit census division code, the 4-digit dissemination area code and the 2-digit dissemination block code)|
|CSDUID2011||Uniquely identifies a census subdivision (composed of 2-digit province or territory unique identifier followed by the 2-digit census division code and 3-digit census subdivision code)|
|HRUID2015||Uniquely identifies a health region (composed of 2-digit province or territory unique identifier followed by the 2-digit health region code)|
|HRNAME_ENGLISH||Health region name, English|
|HRNAME_FRENCH||Health region name, French|
|DBPOP2011||2011 Census dissemination block population|
|Source: Statistics Canada.|
Health regions and standard geography
For the most part, health regions can be described as groupings of counties (census divisions) or municipalities (census subdivisions). This description holds especially true in the Atlantic provinces, Quebec, and Ontario (with minor exceptions in northern Ontario). In the western provinces, health regions are less likely to follow census division or census subdivision boundaries.
The following table provides a count, by province, of census subdivisions that fall in more than one health region.
|Provinces with splits||2006 Census subdivisions||2011 Census subdivisions|
|Nova Scotia – District Health Authorities||1||0|
|Ontario – Local Health Integration Networks||9||11|
|Ontario – Public Health Units||1||4|
|Source: Statistics Canada.|
|Census subdivisions||Health region codes||Health region names||Population||% population split in census subdivisions|
|Ontario – Local Health Integration Network|
|3504||Hamilton Niagara Haldimand Brant||49,759||78.8|
|3512||North Simcoe Muskoka||2,649||27.8|
|3512||North Simcoe Muskoka||2,587||40.1|
|3512||North Simcoe Muskoka||39||0.4|
|3512||North Simcoe Muskoka||17,442||94.3|
The health region boundaries provided in this product are based on 2011 Census geographic units. The smallest geographic unit available has been used as the building block to define health regions. In general, the legislated limits respect these units, but they do not respect DAs or blocks once the legislated boundaries are digitized. In all provinces except British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario (LHINs), the dissemination area was used to define health regions. However, in several instances, the actual physical legal limits split DAs. In the Prairie provinces and B.C. the dissemination block (DB) was used to improve the accuracy of these boundaries. Even with this, the physical legal boundaries do not always reflect the legislated limits recognized by the provinces thus creating many instances of split dissemination blocks.
The limits that did not respect STC geometry (the splits) were digitized by utilizing maps, spatial layers and/or descriptions supplied by and with the cooperation of the authority for each province.
Method used to create health region 2015 boundary files
All processes and procedures to update the digital boundary files were carried out using ESRI Inc.® ArcGIS TM 10.2.2, Safe Software Inc. FME ® Desktop 2015, Pitney Bowes Software Inc.® MapInfo 11.5.1, Microsoft ® Access 2007, and Microsoft ® Excel 2007.
Boundary file formats
All digital health region boundaries in this publication are available in two formats: An ESRI ® shapefile format and MapInfo® table format. We’ll be using the ESRI shapefile, which is supplied in a zip file. This file expands to provide four files of different extensions which are: (DBF, SHP, PRJ and SHX). Boundary files are provided as a national boundary file and are provided as individual provincial boundary files.
The disseminated projection coordinate system of the health region boundary files is as follows:
- Lambert Conformal Conic
- Datum = NAD83
- Units = meters
- Spheroid = GRS 1980
- 1st standard parallel: 49° 00′ 00″
- 2nd standard parallel: 77° 00′ 00”
- Central Meridian: -91° 52′ 00”
- Latitude of Projection Origin: 63° 23′ 26.43”
- False Easting: 6200000
- False Northing: 3000000
“Health region” refers to administrative areas defined by the provincial ministries of health.
Health region boundary changes
See the following tables for history of changes since 2000:
- Table 7-g Summary of changes to health region codes, names and boundaries, 2014 and 2015
- Table 7-f Summary of changes to health region codes, names and boundaries, 2013 and 2014
- Table 7-e Summary of changes to health region codes, names and boundaries, 2011 and 2013
- Table 7-d Summary of changes to health region codes, names and boundaries, 2007 and 2011
- Table 7-c Summary of changes to health region codes, names and boundaries, 2005 and 2007
- Table 7-b Summary of changes to health region codes, names and boundaries, 2003 and 2005
- Table 7-a Summary of Changes to health region codes, names and boundaries, 2000 and 2003
Health region peer groups
In order to effectively compare health regions with similar socio–economic characteristics, health regions have been grouped into ‘peer groups’. Statistics Canada used a statistical method to achieve maximum statistical differentiation between health regions. Twenty–four variables were chosen to cover as many of the social and economic determinants of health as possible, using data collected at the health region level mostly from the Census of Canada. Concepts covered include:
- basic demographics (for example, population change and demographic structure),
- living conditions (for example, socio-economic characteristics, housing, and income inequality), and
- working conditions (for example, labour market conditions).
Peer groups based on 2015 health region boundaries and 2011 Census of Population and 2011 National Household Survey data are available. There are currently nine peer groups identified by letters A through I. There have been no changes made to peer group assignments since 2014.
A more detailed discussion on the rationale and methods involved in the development of peer groups is available in Health Region (2014) Peer Groups – Working paper.
Digital boundary files reflecting health region limits in effect as of December 2015.
Boundary files (documentation)
ARCINFO COMPREHENSIVE DIGITAL BOUNDARY FILES
Code-to-code correspondence between health regions and 2011 and 2006 Census geographic units.
Correspondence files (documentation)
Health region–to–2011 Census dissemination blocks for Ontario available in CSV format via a zipped file.
2011 Comprehensive Correspondence files Download
All Canada Correspondence files Download
Health region–to–2006 Census dissemination area (blocks for Ontario in CSV format).
2006 Comprehensive Correspondence files Download
All Canada Correspondence files Download
Health regions and peer groups
This series of reference maps show the boundaries, names and codes of health regions and peer groups in Canada, by province.
- Map 6 Ontario, Health Units – Northern Ontario Health Regions, 2015
- Map 7 Ontario, Health Units – Southern Ontario Health Regions, 2015
- Map 8 Ontario, Local Health Integration Networks (LHIN), 2015