General Social Survey - Victimization (GSS)

Summary of changes

Activity on this program started: 1988

Reference period of change - 2014 (Cycle 28: Canadians' Safety)

The key components of the main survey in the provinces include the following topics:

Perceptions of the criminal justice system, risk behaviors, isolation, social disorder, trust in people, crime prevention, prevalence of criminal victimization, abuse by current spouse/partner, abuse by ex-spouse/ex-partner, details and characteristics of criminal victimization incidents, childhood experiences of victimization, dating violence, acts committed by someone other than a spouse or ex-spouse, criminal harassment and discrimination.

The Cycle 28 survey on Canadians' Safety (Victimization) in the provinces uses the computer-assisted telephone interview (CATI).

The key components of the survey conducted in the territories include the following topics:

Perceptions of the criminal justice system, risk behaviors, isolation, social disorder, trust in people, crime prevention, prevalence of criminal victimization, abuse by current spouse/partner, abuse by ex-spouse/ex-partner, details and characteristics of criminal victimization incidents, childhood experiences of victimization, dating violence, acts committed by someone other than a spouse or ex-spouse, criminal harassment, discrimination and formal volunteering and financial giving to charitable organizations.

The Cycle 28 survey on Canadians' Safety (Victimization) in the territories uses the computer-assisted telephone interview (CATI) and the computer-assisted personal interview (CAPI).

Instrument design - Changes to the 2014 survey

Sexual Assaults - In 2014, a question was added to the GSS to take into account sexual assaults in which the victim was not able to consent to sexual activity because, for example, he or she was drugged, manipulated or forced in ways other than physically.

Income - In 2014, personal and household income questions were not asked as part of the survey. Income information was obtained instead through a linkage to tax data for respondents who did not object to this linkage. Linking to tax data diminishes respondent burden and also increases data quality both in terms of accuracy and in terms of response rates.

Sampling - Past cycles of the victimization survey were conducted as Random Digit Dialling (RDD) surveys. In 2014, the survey was implemented using the newly redesigned GSS frame, which integrates data from sources of telephone numbers (landline and cellular) available to Statistics Canada and the Address Register (AR). This new frame includes "cell phone only" households, a growing population not covered by RDD.

Estimation - In 2014, bootstrap weights have been changed from mean bootstrap to standard bootstrap weights.

Data accuracy - Comparability between Canadians' Safety (Victimization) survey cycles

Any change in survey method or content (as outlined above) can affect the comparability of the data over time. It is impossible to determine with certainty whether, and to what extent, differences in a variable are attributable to an actual change in the population or to changes in the survey methodology. Consequently, at every stage of processing, verification and dissemination, considerable effort was made to produce data that are as precise in their level of detail, and to ensure that the published estimates are of good quality in keeping with Statistics Canada standards.

Like other GSS cycles, trend monitoring is an important component of the 2014 GSS on Canadians' Safety (Victimization). When analysis involves small domains of estimation, however, caution must be exercised.

Reference period of change - 2013 (Cycle 28 pilot)

New topics of interest were added including:

Childhood experiences of victimization
Dating violence
Acts committed by someone other than a spouse or an ex-spouse
Criminal Harassment

Reference period of change - 2009 (Cycle 23)

Target population - The target population now includes residents of the territories.

Data sources - The CAPI method is used for the first time to collect data on victimization in the territories.

Reference period of change - 2004 (Cycle 18)

Collection instrument - Focus content from cycle 13 on senior abuse and public perception of alternatives to imprisonment was not repeated. New topics of interest were added including stalking, use of restraining orders and social disorder.

Reference period of change - 1999 (Cycle 13)

As of Cycle 13, the name of this survey changed from "General Social Survey - Personal Risk" to "General Social Survey - Victimization".

Collection instrument - For the 1999 GSS on victimization, the Interdepartmental Working Group on Family Violence has sponsored modules on spousal and senior abuse and the department of the Solicitor General Canada has funded questions measuring public perception toward alternatives to imprisonment.

Reference period of change - 1993 (Cycle 8)

Collection instrument - The focus content of cycle 8 is on alcohol and drug use and their relationship to accidents and criminal victimizations.

Reference period of change - 1988 (Cycle 3)

Collection instrument - Focus content, sponsored by the Department of Justice, was on services to victims of crime.

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