General Social Survey – Family (GSS)

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The Family cycle of the General Social Survey monitors changes in Canadian families. It collects information on: conjugal and parental history (chronology of marriages, common-law unions and children), family origins, children's home leaving, fertility intentions, and other socioeconomic characteristics.

The information collected will impact program and policy areas such as parental benefits, child care strategies, child custody and spousal support programs.

Collection periods:
February 1 to November 30, 2017
Collection methods:
Telephone interview
Survey participation:

Voluntary

  • Block Information Confidentiality

    Confidentiality

    Your answers are collected under the authority of the Statistics Act and will be kept strictly confidential.

  • Block Information on Record linkage

    Record linkage

    To enhance the data from this survey and to minimize the reporting burden for respondents, Statistics Canada will combine your responses with information from your personal and household tax data. Statistics Canada may also combine the information you provide with other survey or administrative data sources.

  • Block Information on Topics covered in the survey

    Topics covered in the survey

    The information collected in the General Social Survey – Family will be used to guide decision-makers for policy-making and development for Canadian social and economic programs. In this survey, you will be asked questions about:

    • families, households and housing
    • educational attainment
    • ethnic diversity and immigration
    • aboriginal peoples
    • disability
  • Block Information on Published data

    Published data

    Statistics Canada publishes the results of its surveys in many formats, the following list includes the latest articles and related documents for this survey:

  • Block Information on Survey-specific questions

    Survey-specific questions

    What is the General Social Survey?

    The General Social Survey (GSS) is an annual survey with rotating content which provides policy makers and analysts with statistical information on the living conditions and well-being of people living in Canada.

    Who is surveyed?

    Approximately 43,000 people, 15 years of age and older, living in the 10 provinces.

    Why and how was my household selected?

    It would be costly and impractical to survey each and every household in Canada. Instead, Statistics Canada employs a statistical method known as sampling. Sampling is an established way to determine the characteristics of an entire population by using the answers of a much smaller, randomly chosen sample. In order to ensure that the sample is an accurate reflection of the population as a whole, the survey results from all sampled households must be collected.

    This survey uses a frame that combines landline and cellular telephone numbers from the Census and various administrative sources with Statistics Canada's dwelling frame.

    Note that GSS only selects one eligible person per household to be interviewed.

    I don't have a family why do I have to participate in your survey?

    We want to hear from you whether you are part of a small or a big family, have a family of your own or no family at all. We need to interview people with different characteristics and backgrounds in order for the results of the survey accurately represent the Canadian population. We are interested in information about childhood, family living arrangements, current or previous relationships, education, and fertility.

    How will this information be used?

    Results from this survey will:

    • Guide the decisions made by provincial governments when planning health and social service programs
    • Observe and study the new realities families are facing in light of the changes in Canadian society since the 1960s
    • Compare Canadian families to families in other countries
    • Inform researchers studying marriage, divorce, fertility and family life

    When will the results be available?

    The results for the General Social Survey - Family will be published in 2018 in The Daily.

    The General Social Survey on Family collects information on the family life of Canadians, whether beginning, well-established or undergoing changes. The survey results will help answer questions such as these:

    • Are young adults still delaying moving out from their parents' home?
    • Are many Canadians experiencing the separation or divorce of parents?
    • What are the intentions of young Canadians in terms of marriage or having children?
    • Are there new patterns in the division of household work between men and women?
    • Are more couples living apart?
    • Are parents satisfied with the child care services they are receiving?
    • How many parents are taking leave for the birth of their child?

    What type of questions will be answered with the results from this survey?

    The results for the General Social Survey - Family will be published in 2018 in The Daily.

  • Block Information on Brochures

    Brochure

    Family begins with you
    The General Social Survey on Family

    1984
    Parental benefits extended to adoptive parents
    1986
    Revision to the Divorce Act: separation period reduced to one year
    1990
    10 weeks of shareable parental leave benefits are added to the existing maternity leave
    1993
    Family Allowance replaced by the Child Tax Benefit (CTB)
    1998
    A National Child Benefit Supplement (CCBT) added to the Child Tax Benefit
    2000
    Parental leave benefits extended from 10 to 35 weeks 2004
    2004
    Compassionate Care EI benefits introduced
    2005
    Same-sex marriage is legalized across Canada (Civil Marriage Act)
    2006
    Quebec Parental Insurance Plan (QPIP) off“ers paternity benefits to fathers
    Universal Child Care Benefit (UCCB) is introduced
    2012
    Family Caregiver Tax Credit introduced

    Our family shapes who we are and contributes to our unique life story. We want to hear from you whether you are part of a small or a big family, have a family of your own or no family at all.

    Your participation in this important survey means that Statistics Canada can paint a more accurate picture of the diversity of Canadian families. Your answers help guide decisions about social programs and policies to ensure that they meet the needs of all Canadians and their families.

    Share your experience

    The General Social Survey on Family collects information on the family life of Canadians, whether beginning, well-established or undergoing changes. We are interested in information about childhood, family living arrangements, current or previous relationships, education, and fertility. The survey results will help answer questions such as these:

    • Are young adults still delaying moving out from their parents' home?
    • Are many Canadians experiencing the separation or divorce of parents?
    • What are the intentions of young Canadians in terms of marriage or having children?
    • Are there new patterns in the division of household work between men and women?
    • Are more couples living apart?
    • Are parents satisfied with the child care services they are receiving?
    • How many parents are taking leave for the birth of their child?

    Why your participation is important

    The data we collect from you and from other respondents like you will:

    • Guide the decisions made by provincial governments when planning health and social service programs
    • Observe and study the new realities families are facing in light of the changes in Canadian society since the 1960s
    • Compare Canadian families to families in other countries
    • Inform researchers studying marriage, divorce, fertility and family life
    • Examine the role grandparents play in Canadian families

    How it works

    A Statistics Canada interviewer will contact you to arrange a telephone interview at a convenient time for you. Our interviewers work flexible hours and can accommodate your schedule during the day, the evening and weekends. During the interview, you will be asked for some key information on your family situation. We know how busy you are, and we appreciate you taking the time to assist us with this survey.

    What would be helpful for the interview?

    Please gather a few of the dates associated with these important life events:

    • The completion of your schooling
    • Move(s) from the parental home
    • The birth of your parents your spouse or partner
    • Marriage and past relationships
    • The birth of your children

    Having these dates on hand will make it easier for you to answer some of the questions and will shorten the interview.

    Your privacy is important to us

    All the information Statistics Canada collects is strictly confidential and is protected by the Statistics Act. Statistics Canada cannot release any information that would identify you or any member of your household without your consent. Furthermore, this information cannot be released under any other law, not even the Access to Information Act.

    For more information

    General Social Survey – Family (GSS)
    Atlantic: 1-800-565-1685
    Quebec: 1-877-992-3999
    Ontario: 1-800-461-1662
    Western provinces and territories: 1-866-445-4323
    Telecommunications device for the hearing impaired (TTY): 1-866-753-7083

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  • Questionnaires, definitions, data sources and methods: survey number 4501
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