General Social Survey - Victimization (GSS)

Quinquennial (5 year)
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.

The main objective of the GSS on Victimization is to better understand how Canadians perceive crime and the justice system and their experiences of victimization.

Detailed information for 2014 (Cycle 28: Canadians' Safety)

Data release - 2015


The main objective of the GSS on Victimization is to better understand how Canadians perceive crime and the justice system and their experiences of victimization.

This survey is the only national survey of self-reported victimization and is collected in all provinces and territories. The survey allows for estimates of the numbers and characteristics of victims and criminal incidents. As not all crimes are reported to the police, the survey provides an important complement to officially recorded crime rates. It measures both crime incidents that come to the attention of the police and those that are unreported. It also helps to understand the reasons behind whether or not people report a crime to the police.

Survey results will be used by police departments, all levels of government, victim and social service agencies, community groups and researchers not only to better understand the nature and extent of victimization, but also to study Canadians' perceptions of their safety, the levels of crime in their neighbourhoods, and their attitudes toward the criminal justice system.

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.

Reference period:
Calendar year


  • Crime and justice
  • Society and community
  • Victims and victimization

Data sources and methodology

Target population

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

In the GSS conducted in the provinces, all respondents are contacted and interviewed 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. In the territories, interviews are conducted by telephone or face-to-face. For the Internet Pilot Survey, all respondents are contacted by telephone and then redirected to the electronic questionnaire.

Instrument design

The questionnaire was designed based on research and extensive consultations with key justice 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 five cities, representing four 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 populations for the surveys in the provinces and the territories consist of non-institutionalized residents aged 15 years and over. For both surveys, a single eligible member of each sampled household is randomly selected by the application to complete the questionnaire, after the completion of the roster.

For the surveys in the provinces, the sample is drawn using 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. The field sample size is approximately 79,500 households across the main survey in the ten provinces and approximately 17,500 for the Internet Pilot Survey.

The sample for the survey in the territories is drawn both from an area frame of dwellings which are currently in the Labour Force Survey (LFS) and those who were part of the LFS between 2012 and 2014. The field sample size is approximately 3,600 households across the three territories.

Data sources

Data collection for this reference period: 2014-01-02 to 2014-12-31

Responding to this survey is voluntary.

Data are collected directly from survey respondents.

An introduction letter is sent in advance to selected households for which an address is available.

Data collection for the main survey in the provinces is conducted (from January 2 to December 31, 2014) using Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI) from the Halifax, Sherbrooke, Sturgeon Falls, Winnipeg and Edmonton Regional Offices.

Data collection in the territories is conducted (from August 1 to December 31, 2014) using Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI) from the Winnipeg Regional Office and Computer Assisted Personal Interviewing (CAPI) using Statistics Canada interviewers from the Edmonton Regional Office.

Data collection for the Internet Pilot Survey in the provinces is done (from October 6 to December 31, 2014) using the electronic questionnaire with the first telephone contact using the Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI) from the Halifax, Sherbrooke and Edmonton Regional Offices.

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.