Central Demographics File (MSP Registration and Premium Billings, Client Roster and Census Geodata)/Consolidation file (MSP registration and premium billing) data set

Data sources: 

  • BC Ministry of Health Services
  • BC Ministry of Health Services Registration & Premium Billing (R&PB) files
  • BC's health services utilization files -- Medical Services Plan (MSP) Payment Information, Discharge Abstract Database (Hospital Separations)
  • BC Stats Translation Master File (TMF)
  • Statistics Canada Postal Code Conversion File (PCCF)


The Central Demographics File (also known as the Consolidation File) is Population Data BC's central demographics file for research requests. Requests for access to demographic information should, in most cases, refer to this file rather than to individual content data files.

The Consolidation File contains basic demographics such as age and sex, geo-codes indicating location of residence, and registration data. The primary base of information are the MSP Registration and Premium Billing (R&PB) files, but other data sources are also used to augment this base, e.g. to identify individuals who appear not to be registered but still receive health care services.


Fields available

Both Core and Non-Core fields are available for this data set.

Core vs. Non-Core Data

Core Data: Some data available through PopData and HDPBC are ‘Core Data’. Core Data are data identified by the data provider as 'Safe Data' and eligible for pre-approved release, with the exception of PharmaNet data. Core Data includes commonly-requested data columns, but not necessarily all of the columns available in a data set. For example, some Core Data fields, such as geography or organisational codes, have been suppressed for increased privacy.

Please note that the overall data access request is subject to meeting ALL of the Five SAFEs requirements, not just the Safe Data component. For more detail on the Five SAFEs, visit the Eligibility and the FIVE Safe's model page of our website.

Non-Core Data: Non-Core Data are data NOT identified by the data provider as 'Safe Data' and thus are NOT eligible for pre-approved release. Access to Non-Core Data follows the usual processes and will not follow expedited review procedures.

For the majority of DARs, requesting access to Core Data may make the data access approval process quicker and reduce the wait time for data access. It may also reduce the need for time-consuming data amendments related to a request for additional data fields or changes to study populations.

download Central Demographics/Consolidation file all available variables (pdf)

  • All individuals who are registered as being eligible to receive services in BC, and/or who actually do receive services are represented in the Consolidation File.
Data changes over time
  • Ongoing updates to the data based on new census information
  • Changes to the geographic fields available
  • Changes in how the Socioeconomic (SES) quintiles/deciles are calculated (see additional details below).
Quality/accuracy of information/field coding source
  • Programmers at Population Data BC check for consistency in demographic information over time. Where there are inconsistencies in birth date or sex, for example, care is taken to identify the most likely or best available information and to use that consistently for that individual across years. For example, an individual may be coded with "sex unknown" in one year, but on inspection be found to be coded consistently as "female" in other years. In this case, the "unknown" is modified to "female" in the Consolidation File.
  • Unlike the source MSP R&PB files, which may contain multiple records per person per year, the Consolidation File contains a single record per person within either a calendar year or a fiscal year.
  • The Consolidation File contains two summary registration fields developed by Population Data BC, which should be easier for researchers to use in their analysis: ‘Registration Start Day' (point in the year that their registration started) and ‘Total Days Registered During the Year'. These fields were developed by Population Data BC based on the sometimes multiple and overlapping enrollment and cancellation dates which appear in the MSP R&PB files.
  • We use the PCCF+ software packages developed by Russell Wilkins of Statistics Canada to automatically assign a full range of Census geographic areas (e.g. Census Division, Census Subdivision, Census Metropolitan Area, Census Tract, Dissemination Area, etc.) as well as neighbourhood income quintiles/deciles to BC patients based on postal code of patient residence. The software assigns postal codes probabilistically based on population weights for rural postal codes and some urban postal codes. Each version of the PCCF+ software is designed for use with data from a particular Census (completed once every 5 years). At this time we do not have the applicable PCCF+ software versions to use on data prior to 1994, thus we are unable to assign Census geographic identifiers and neighbourhood income quintiles/deciles to data prior to 1994.
Important additional information
  • There are several special populations that one must be aware of when conducting research using administrative data:
    • First Nations
    • Federal employees (e.g. RCMP or Armed Forces)
  • The way coverage for these groups is managed creates some peculiarities for data in the source MSP R&PB files and thus in the Consolidation Files. In these cases, federal coverage of health care services is limited to the individual or employee, i.e. does not extend to any of their dependents. In cases where the RCMP or Armed Forces personnel have dependents, the federal employee is issued coverage, and they are assigned a PHN, but that number is not communicated to the federal employee. Their coverage is both issued and cancelled on the same day to facilitate the creation of a dependent number for the ‘economic family.'
  • BC Stats. Translation Master File (TMF) [computer file]. Victoria: BC Stats, BC Ministry of Finance and Corporate Relations; 2008.
  • Mechada K, Puderer H. How postal codes map to geographic areas. Geography Working Paper Series, no. 1. Catalogue no. 92F0138MIE2007001. Ottawa: Statistics Canada; 2007.
  • Division of Vital Statistics, BC Ministry of Health. Client Registry: Division of Vital Statistics' Feature Report. Victoria: BC Ministry of Health and Ministry Responsible for Seniors; 1994.
  • Statistics Canada. 2006 Census Dictionary. Ottawa: Statistics Canada; 2007. Catalogue No. 92-566-XWE. Available at: http://www12.statcan.gc.ca/english/census06/reference/dictionary/index.cfm
  • Statistics Canada. Postal Code Conversion File (PCCF), Reference Guide. March 2009 postal codes. Catalogue No. 92-153-GWE. Ottawa: Geography Division, Statistics Canada; July 2009.
  • Wilkins R. Use of postal codes and addresses in the analysis of health data. Health Reports 1993;5(2):157-177.
  • Wilkins R. PCCF+ Version 5E User's Guide. Automated Geographic Coding Based on the Statistics Canada Postal Code Conversion Files, Including Postal Codes through March 2009. Catalogue 82F0086-XDB. Ottawa: Health Analysis Division, Statistics Canada; July 2009.


DARs/Projects snapshot

Total number of DARs/Projects currently with PopData:


The breakdown:

DARs in preparation/review


Projects with amendments in preparation/review


DARs in post-approval


Projects with data being prepared


Projects being maintained
(inc. 11 DASH & 13 DI Program)


CaraSpace projects


Last revised November 22, 2022

Upcoming events

Upcoming events
Free webinar
Free webinar
Online course

Need pan-Canadian data?

The Data Access Support Hub (DASH) is a one-stop data access service portal for researchers requiring multi-jurisdictional data in Canada.

> more information