The purpose of this survey is to gather information on your sense of belonging to family, friends and society in general. Today, perhaps more than ever, it is important to know about your values, trust in others, confidence in institutions, pride in Canada and possible experiences of discrimination.
By participating in this survey, you will help pinpoint what works well in Canada on this front, and what needs to be improved. By comparing your experiences to those of Canadians in 2013—the last time this survey was conducted—we will gain a better understanding of how society is changing and what the most pressing social issues are.
Your information may also be used by Statistics Canada for other statistical and research purposes.
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Data are collected under the authority of the Statistics Act, Revised Statutes of Canada, 1985, Chapter S-19. Your information will be kept strictly confidential.
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To enhance the data from this survey and reduce response burden, Statistics Canada will combine the information you provide with data from existing administrative data sources such as income tax and immigration records. Statistics Canada may also combine the information you provide with data from other surveys or administrative sources.
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Topics covered in the survey
The survey asks questions about
- sense of belonging
- shared values
- trust in others
- possible experiences of discrimination.
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Statistics Canada publishes the results of its surveys in many formats. To find all the documents related to this survey, follow the links below and type the name of the survey in the search engine located at the left of your screen to filter the results.
Data: You will find tables, profiles of a community or region, thematic maps, public use microdata files, and data visualization tools.
Analysis: You will have direct access to Stats in brief (e.g., releases from The Daily, fact sheets), articles and reports, and journals and periodicals.
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Frequently asked questions
What type of information are you collecting?
This survey will help to provide more information on Canadians' sense of belonging as well as their integration within their families, networks of friends, and society in general. Given that this country's composition is diverse, it is important to gather information on shared values, trust in others and in institutions, as well as the experiences of discrimination.
How will this information be used?
Results from this survey will be used by many government departments to develop policies and run programs that can have an impact on individuals. Academics, researchers and non-governmental organizations may also use this data in order to better understand how social identity, social networks, trust and a sense of belonging contribute to the lives of Canadians.
What do you mean by "sense of belonging"?
In this context, "sense of belonging" refers to Canadians' level of identification, attachment and inclusion to national, ethnic, geographic and cultural groups. This survey asks respondents to describe, on a scale from very strong to very weak, their sense of belonging to Canada, their local community, town, province, ethnic or cultural group, as well as people of the same language. Immigrants are also asked to describe their sense of belonging to their country of origin.
What do you mean by "ethnic origin," and why is this (outdated) term used in this survey?
The questions pertaining to ethnic origin collects information in accordance with the Employment Equity Act and its Regulations and Guidelines to support programs that promote equal opportunity for everyone to share in the social, cultural, and economic life of Canada.
Ethnic or cultural origin refers to the ethnic or cultural group(s) of a person's ancestors, including ancestors from both sides of their family. An ancestor is someone from whom a person is descended and is usually more distant than a grandparent. Ethnic or cultural ancestry refers to a person's "roots" or cultural background and should not be confused with citizenship or nationality. Other than Aboriginal persons, most people can trace their origins to their ancestors on first coming to this continent.
The questions in this survey provide information on the ethnic and cultural diversity of Canada's population. It is used by governments to create multicultural programs. Businesses use it to determine communications and marketing strategies. Cultural associations, community groups, school boards and hospitals use the data to assess how people from different backgrounds have integrated into life in Canada.
What do you mean by "discrimination"?
Respondents are asked if they have experienced discrimination - because of sex, ethnicity or culture, race, or colour, physical appearance, religion, sexual orientation, age, disability, language or for some other reasons-,by whom and in what type of situation.
For respondents who immigrated to Canada fewer than five years ago, these questions focus on the time since they arrived in Canada. The survey seeks to examine discrimination that has occurred inside Canada only.
Why are you asking about sex and gender?
Many of Statistics Canada's social surveys ask respondents to identify their sex, which refers to sex at birth. Statistics Canada has started to modify survey procedures to also collect data on gender – either instead of, or in addition to, data on sex at birth. In doing so, we are considering that the concept of sex refers to biological attributes, while gender is a socially constructed concept. To be respectful of how people choose to identify themselves, while still collecting meaningful data that has comparability to historical data, we are working towards an appropriate way of asking sex and gender questions on our surveys. We are also addressing concerns related to the use of gendered pronouns during survey interviews.
Statistics Canada listened to those who identify as transgender and non-binary and consulted with representatives from transgender organizations and academic experts to develop inclusive variables that respect the gender identity and expression of all Canadians. These new variables on sex and gender are based on a non-binary gender spectrum that covers the many gender identities and gender expressions of Canadians, including cisgender and transgender identities.
Statistics Canada recognizes that information on LGBTQ2+ respondents is by far the most commonly reported data gap in the demography and household composition section of the census questionnaire. In preparation for the 2021 Census, we conducted a content review of the questionnaire and included new and modified questions on sex at birth and gender in the 2019 Census Test.
Learn more about it here: 2019 Census Test: What's it all about? - Sex and gender.
What do you mean by "visible minority"?
Statistic Canada's uses two distinct variables to define ethnic groups: "visible minority" and "population group". The visible minority variable was first defined by the Employment Equity Act for federal employment equity programs purposes. It refers to "persons, other than Aboriginal peoples, who are non-Caucasian in race or non-white in colour".
The visible minority variable includes the following classifications: South Asian, Chinese, Black, Filipino, Latin American, Arab, Southeast Asian, West Asian, Korean, Japanese, Visible minority, n.i.e. (n.i.e. meaning "not included elsewhere"), Multiple visible minorities and Not a visible minority. As for the population group variable, the classifications include: White, South Asian, Chinese, Black, Filipino, Latin American, Arab, Southeast Asian, West Asian, Korean, Japanese, and Visible minority.
Questions are asked this way in order to maintain historical comparability with survey data that have been collected over many years, using definitions that are included in the Employment Equity Act.
For more information, please refer to the Employment Equity Act.
These response categories are based on the visible minority groups identified by the Employment Equity Technical Reference Papers published by Employment and Immigration Canada in 1987.
The visible minority and population group questions were also asked on the 2016 Census of Population. For more information on these variables, you may refer to the Visible Minority and Population Group Reference Guide, Census of Population, 2016, which gives more information on this concept and how the data are collected.
How accessible is this survey?
Our Collection Portal follows Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) ensuring that all survey participants can access the content. Individuals who are blind and visually impaired should be able to access the content using standard screen reader software. People who are deaf or hard of hearing can obtain additional support through our TTY line: 1-866-753-7083.
When will the data be made available?
The data will be released on our website as of December 2020.
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About the survey
Statistics Canada's Social Identity survey asks Canadians how they interact with family and friends, and how connected they feel to their country and its institutions. In short, it takes the nation's pulse to learn more about how Canadians feel about each other and society.
The survey will help us answer question on:
- What contributes to high levels of trust in communities?
- Who are the individuals most at risk of having no close friends?
- How accepted do people feel by others?
- Under what circumstances do people experience discrimination?
- How strong is the feeling of pride in Canada's history and achievements?
Your responses will help decision makers to implement programs and improve services for people who need it the most, and those living in vulnerable areas or communities.
Some interesting facts from the 2013 Social Identity survey:
- Nearly nine in ten individuals (87%) were proud to call themselves Canadian, with first-generation and second-generation Canadians most likely to feel this way.
- More than 9 in 10 Canadians believed that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms (93%) and the national flag (91%) were important to the national identity.
- The vast majority of people (92%) felt that Canadians shared values in relation to human rights.
- Most (66%) Canadians reported trusting most or many people in their neighbourhood.
You can make a difference
Your participation makes a difference because the data you provide speak for many Canadian households just like yours. Your answers will contribute to a clearer picture of how the attitudes and behaviours of Canadians shape their relationships to each other and to their communities.
In addition, your responses will help governments address Canada's National Anti-Racism Strategy by identifying people and communities where systemic racism occurs. These data will help new programs and policies to be designed to address the impacts of racism and barriers faced by all racialized communities, Indigenous Peoples and religious minorities.
Your privacy is important to us
All information collected by Statistics Canada is strictly confidential and protected by the Statistics Act. Statistics Canada cannot release any information that would identify you or any member of your household without your consent.
Need more information?
If you would like to know more about Statistics Canada, our commitment to confidentiality, the General Social Survey on Social Identity, or participating in surveys, we welcome your questions. Please contact us using your preferred method from the list below.
To complete the survey over the phone
(Toll free): 1-833-266-9910
Thank you for participating!
Visit Statistics Canada's website at statcan.gc.ca or follow us on social media.
- For more information about this survey (questionnaires, definitions, data sources and methods used): survey number 5024