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Data and Statistics

a guide to finding data and/or statistics of interest to students and scholars engaged in all kinds of research.

RTRA at Dalhousie Libraries

What is RTRA?

Statistics Canada provides access to select Masterfile subsets through the Real Time Remote Access (RTRA) online tabulation tool. "Researchers using the RTRA system do not gain direct access to the microdata and cannot view the content of the microdata file."

RTRA online tabulation tool benefits

For projects that don't require analysis at small levels of geography, the RTRA service can allow you to calculate certain types of statistics for:

  • Some Masterfile subsets which are not available as PUMFs in the DLI's collection.
  • Some variables in the Masterfile subsets which are not available in the Public Use Microdata File (PUMF) version of a dataset.
  • Some variables in the Masterfile subset which are not aggregated to the same extent as the same variable in the PUMF.

Retrieving tables through Statistics Canada's RTRA service is a much quicker and simpler process than getting access to Masterfiles in the Research Data Centres (which can take months and requires a security screening).

RTRA online tabulation tool limitations

  • Tables are retrieved by running SAS programs that have to be coded according to StatsCan's standard format and by calling standard RTRA macros.
  • Smaller geographies have been excluded from the RTRA versions of the Masterfile subsets. Geographical variables that remain include provinces and, in some cases, some of the larger sub-provincial levels of geography such as health regions and census metropolitan areas.
  • Only certain kind of statistics can be calculated in RTRA: frequency, mean, percentiles, percent distribution, proportions, ratio, share, level change, percent change, significance test.

Dalhousie Libraries and the RTRA online tabulation tool

Dalhousie Libraries has a subscription to Statistics Canada's RTRA online tabulation tool. If you are a Dalhousie-affiliated student, professor, or researcher, we can submit SAS code to the tool on your behalf (we have a limited number of free submissions a day), and send you the resulting output file.

However, writing SAS code for use in the RTRA tool and troubleshooting any error messages in the resulting output file remains the responsibility of the student, professor, or researcher submitting an RTRA request.

Writing SAS code for the RTRA online tabulation tool

Generating or writing SAS code for use with the RTRA tool does not require you to have access to a copy of the SAS statistical software. See the rest of this page for more information on writing SAS code for the RTRA online tabulation tool.

Who to contact

For any additional information about the RTRA, for questions about acquiring a SAS license, to get a copy of useful documentation about the RTRA, for a copy of a shell program, for survey documentation, or to provide SAS code for Dal Libraries to submit to the RTRA on your behalf, please contact Julie Marcoux at

Tips on submitting SAS code for the RTRA tool

The following links may help you check what surveys are available via the RTRA online tabulation tool, and may help you create the SAS code necessary for a request to be submitted to the RTRA online tabulation tool.