General Social Survey - Time Use (GSS)

Detailed information for 2015 - 2016 (Cycle 29)




Every 5 years

Record number:


The two primary objectives of the General Social Survey (GSS) are: to gather data on social trends in order to monitor changes in the living conditions and well-being of Canadians over time; and to provide information on specific social policy issues of current or emerging interest. A specific topic is usually repeated every five years.

This survey monitors changes in time use patterns.

Data release - We expect to release the data in Winter 2017.


This survey monitors changes in time use to better understand how Canadians spend and manage their time and what contributes to their well-being and stress

The data collected provide information to all level of governments when making funding decisions, developing priorities and identifying areas of concern for legislation, new policies and programs. Researchers and other users use this information to inform the general Canadian population about the changing nature of time use in Canada.

From April 2015 to January 2016, Cycle 29 on Time Use (TU) will use a multi-mode collection approach. Respondents selected for the questionnaire will be given two options for responding: completing the electronic questionnaire (EQ) or continuing the computer-assisted telephone interview (CATI). From February 2016 to April 2016, collection will only be done via CATI.

Statistical activity

This record is part of the General Social Survey (GSS) program. The GSS originated in 1985. Each survey contains a core topic, focus or exploratory questions and a standard set of socio-demographic questions used for classification. More recent cycles have also included some qualitative questions, which explore intentions and perceptions.


  • Commuting to work
  • Labour
  • Society and community
  • Time use
  • Unpaid work

Data sources and methodology

Target population

The target population for the GSS on Time Use is the Canadian population aged 15 and over, living in the 10 provinces, and not residing in institutions.

In the GSS, all respondents are contacted by telephone. Thus persons in households without telephones cannot be interviewed. However, persons living in such households represent less than 2% of the target population.

Instrument design

The questionnaire was designed based on research and extensive consultations with key time use partners and data users. Qualitative testing on new content, conducted by Statistics Canada's Questionnaire Design Resource Center (QDRC), was carried out with respondents in four cities, representing three provinces. Questions which worked well and others that needed clarification or redesign were highlighted. QDRC staff compiled a detailed report of the results along with their recommendations. All comments and feedback from qualitative testing were carefully considered and incorporated into the survey. Discussions on how changes would be implemented were taken in consultation with QDRC.


This is a sample survey with a cross-sectional design.

The target population for the main survey is non-institutionalized persons 15 years of age or older, living in the 10 provinces. A field sample of 61 500 households will be used. For the survey, a single eligible member of each sampled household is randomly selected by the application to complete the questionnaire, after the completion of the roster.

This survey uses Statistics Canada's new telephone sampling frame. The frame contains landline and cellular telephone numbers from the Census and various administrative sources provided to Statistics Canada. A sub-sample of unlisted telephone numbers as well as addresses and names from Statistics Canada's new dwelling frame are also included. This sampling frame is used to obtain a better coverage of households with a telephone number.

Data sources

Data collection for this reference period: 2015-04-07 to 2016-04-06

Responding to this survey is voluntary.

Data are collected directly from survey respondents.

The data will be collected using both a Computer Assisted Telephone Interview (CATI) application and an Electronic Questionnaire (EQ). First contact will be made by telephone from the Halifax, Sherbrooke, Sturgeon Falls, Winnipeg and Edmonton Regional Offices. An introductory letter is sent in advance to respondents for which an address is available.

View the Questionnaire(s) and reporting guide(s) .

Disclosure control

Statistics Canada is prohibited by law from releasing any information it collects which could identify any person, business, or organization, unless consent has been given by the respondent or as permitted by the Statistics Act. Various confidentiality rules are applied to all data that are released or published to prevent the publication or disclosure of any information deemed confidential. If necessary, data are suppressed to prevent direct or residual disclosure of identifiable data.


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