Frequently asked questions about the Canadian Municipal Barometer

What is the Canadian Municipal Barometer?

The Canadian Municipal Barometer (or CMB) is a new partnership to generate high-quality data and rigorous analysis of Canadian municipal democracy and public policy. The heart of the partnership is an annual survey of mayors and councillors in more than 400 municipalities across Canada.

What sorts of questions are included in the CMB annual survey?

Each year’s CMB survey has two main parts. In the first part, we ask mayors and councillors a number of “big picture” questions about their municipalities: do they feel their municipality is on the right track? How satisfied they are with democracy in their municipalities? Is their municipality in good fiscal shape? Are provincial-municipal and federal-municipal relationships working well? These questions, which are identical in each year’s survey, allow us to compare municipal perceptions on these questions across regions and over time. In the second part of each year’s CMB survey, we focus on a more specific theme related to Canadian municipal democracy, representation, and citizen engagement.

What themes have you chosen for the second part of each year’s survey?

For the first three years of the Canadian Municipal Barometer project, we have chosen the following themes: the life and career of the municipal politician (2020), citizen engagement and participation in Canadian municipalities (2021), and municipal democratic institutions (2022).

What sorts of questions are included in the “life and career” portion of the 2020 survey?

We hoped to better understand what life is like as a mayor or councillor in Canada. We asked our respondents what prompted them to run for municipal office, and about the groups and organizations in which mayors and councillors were involved before entering municipal politics. We asked if mayors and councillors consider their role full-time or part-time, how many hours each week they spend on the job, how much they are paid, and how their pay compares to similar municipalities. We asked about the best and worst parts of the job. And we asked mayors and councillors if they have any interest in other elected positions, such as provincial or federal office.

Sounds interesting. Where can I find the results?

All of our findings can be found here on the CMB website, which also includes links to raw datasets via the CMB dataverse page. One of our partners, Samara Canada, will be publishing an annual report on the questions in the thematic section of the survey. We have many other plans for graphs, reports, and refereed academic research from the CMB survey in the months to come. If you’d like occasional updates on what we’re up to, sign up for our newsletter.

Can I take a look at data for other survey questions?

Yes. We’re happy to pull together breakdowns from specific municipalities and demographic groups, provided that we can do so without compromising our respondents’ privacy. We’re also happy to discuss collaborative research and data sharing — feel free to contact us.

It’d be very helpful if we knew more about (x). Can you include a question about that in your next survey?

We want to make the survey as useful as possible for Canadian municipal practitioners, academic researchers, and engaged citizens. So we’re always happy to discuss ways we might be able to include important and valuable questions in future surveys. Contact us.