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 which provides data on criminal victimization for the provinces and territories. As not all crimes are reported to the police for a variety of reasons, 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 why some people choose whether or not to report a crime to the police.

Results from this survey will be used by police departments, all levels of government, victim and social service agencies, community groups and researchers in universities to study Canadians' perceptions of the level of crime around them and their attitudes toward the criminal justice system; to profile victims of crimes; and to study characteristics of criminal incidents.

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.

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 population for the main survey in the provinces is non-institutionalized persons 15 years of age or older, living in the provinces and do not live in an institution. A field sample of 79,770 households will be used.

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.

The target population for the GSS Cycle in the territories consists of all residents aged 15 years and over who are not living in institutions. The sample for the victimization survey in the territories was drawn from an area frame of dwellings which are currently in the Labour Force Survey (LFS) or were part of the LFS between 2012 and 2014. A field sample of 3,600 households will be used. A single eligible member of each sampled household is randomly selected by the application to complete the questionnaire, after the completion of the roster.

Data sources

Data collection for this reference period: 2014-01-02 (in the provinces) or 2014-08-01 (in the territories) to 2014-12-31

Responding to this survey is voluntary.

Data are collected directly from survey respondents.

Data collection in the provinces is conducted by Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI) method from the Halifax, Sherbrooke, Sturgeon Falls, Winnipeg and Edmonton Regional Offices. An introduction letter is sent in advance to respondents for which an address is available.

Data collection in the territories is conducted by Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI) from the Winnipeg Regional Office and Computer Assisted Personal Interviewing (CAPI) from the Edmonton Regional Office. An introduction 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.