Labour Force Survey (LFS)

Summary of changes

Activity on this program started: 1945

Reference period of change - March 2021

In March 2021, questions measuring the Labour Market Impact of COVID-19 were added to the Labour Force Survey as a supplement.

The additional questions, which were asked on a voluntary basis, were:

1. What was the main reason [respondent name] was absent from work last week?

2. Which of the following best describes [respondent name]'s usual place of work at his/her main job or business?

3. Last week, in which of these locations did [respondent name] work the most hours?

4. People may have a number of concerns related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Does [respondent name] have any of the following concerns?

5. Over the last month, that is since [previous month] 15, has [respondent name] received a payment for any of the following types of benefits?

6. The following question collects information to better understand the labour market impact of COVID-19 on diverse groups of Canadians.

7. Over the last month, that is since [previous month] 15 to today, how difficult or easy was it for your household to meet its financial needs in terms of transportation, housing, food, clothing and other necessary expenses?

Reference period of change - February 2021

In February 2021, questions measuring the Labour Market Impact of COVID-19 were added to the survey:

1. What was the main reason [respondent name] was absent from work last week?

2. Which of the following best describes [respondent name]'s usual place of work at his/her main job or business?

3. Last week, in which of these locations did [respondent name] work the most hours?

4. A person may be more or less productive now that they are mainly working from home. Think about [respondent name]'s average work day since he/she started mainly working from home, compared with the time when he/she mostly worked outside the home.

5. What is the main reason why [respondent name] usually accomplishes less work per hour when working from home?

6. Given the choice, what type of work arrangement would [respondent names] prefer once the pandemic is over?

7. People may have a number of concerns related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Does [respondent name] have any of the following concerns?

8. Over the last month, that is since [previous month] 15 to today, has [respondent name] received a payment for any of the following types of benefits?

9. The following question collects information to better understand the labour market impacts of COVID-19 in diverse groups of Canadians.

10. Over the last month, that is since [previous month] 15 to today, how difficult or easy was it for your household to meet its financial needs in terms of transportation, housing, food, clothing and other necessary expenses?

Reference period of change - January 2021

In January 2021, questions measuring the Labour Market Impact of COVID-19 were added to the Labour Force Survey as a supplement.

The additional questions, which were asked on a voluntary basis, were:

1. What was the main reason [respondent name] was absent from work last week?

2. Which of the following best describes [respondent name]'s usual place of work at his/her main job or business?

3. Last week, in which of these locations did [respondent name] work the most hours?

4. People may have a number of concerns related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Does [respondent name] have any of the following concerns?

5. Over the last month, that is since [previous month] 15, has [respondent name] received a payment for any of the following types of benefits?

6. The following question collects information to better understand the labour market impact of COVID-19 on diverse groups of Canadians.

7. Over the last month, that is since [previous month] 15 to today, how difficult or easy was it for your household to meet its financial needs in terms of transportation, housing, food, clothing and other necessary expenses?

Reference period of change - October 2020

In October 2020, questions measuring the Labour Market Impact of COVID-19 were added to the Labour Force Survey as a supplement.

The additional questions, which were asked on a voluntary basis, were:

1. What was the main reason [respondent name] was absent from work last week?

2. Which of the following best describes [respondent name]'s usual place of work at his/her main job or business?

3. Last week, in which of these locations did [respondent name] work the most hours?

4. What proportion of [respondent name]'s hours did he/she work from home last week?

5. People may have a number of concerns related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Does [respondent name] have any of the following concerns?

6. Over the last month, that is since [previous month] 15, has [respondent name] received a payment for any of the following types of benefits?

7. The following question collects information to better understand the labour market impact of COVID-19 on diverse groups of Canadians.

8. Over the last month, that is since [previous month] 15 to today, how difficult or easy was it for your household to meet its financial needs in terms of transportation, housing, food, clothing and other necessary expenses?

Reference period of change - July 2020

These additional questions were included as a supplement to the Labour Force Survey for the three consecutive months of July 2020, August 2020 and September 2020. These additional questions measure the Labour Market Impact of COVID-19 in the Canadian provinces.

The additional questions, which were asked on a voluntary basis, were:

1. What was the main reason [respondent name] was absent from work last week?

2. Which of the following best describes [respondent name]'s usual place of work at his/her main job or business?

3. Last week, in which of these locations did [respondent name] work the most hours?

4. What proportion of [respondent name]'s hours does he/she expect to work from home next month?

5. Does [respondent name] have concerns about returning to his/her physical workplace?

6. Which of the following measures are currently in place at [respondent name]'s workplace to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19?

7. Over the last month, that is since [previous month] 15, has [respondent name] received a payment for any of the following types of benefits?

8. The following question collects information to better understand the labour market impact of COVID-19 on diverse groups of Canadians.

9. Is there a mortgage on this dwelling?

10. Over the last month, that is since [previous month] 15 to today, how difficult or easy was it for your household to meet its financial needs in terms of transportation, housing, food, clothing and other necessary expenses?

Reference period of change - June 2020

These additional questions were included as a supplement to the Labour Force Survey for the month of June 2020. These additional questions measure the Labour Market Impact of COVID-19 in the Canadian provinces.

The additional questions, which were asked on a voluntary basis, were:

1. Last week, did [respondent name] work at a job or business?

2. Last week, did [respondent name] have a job or business from which he/she was absent?

3. What was the main reason [respondent name] was absent from work last week?

4. Which of the following best describes [respondent name]'s usual place of work at his/her main job or business?

5. Last week, in which of these locations did [respondent name] work the most hours?

6. What proportion of [respondent name]'s hours does he/she expect to work from home next month?

7. Which of the following measures are currently in place at [respondent name]'s workplace to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19?

8. Since March 15, has [respondent name] received a payment for any of the following types of benefits?

9. Is there a mortgage on this dwelling?

10. Over the last month, that is since [previous month] 15 to today, how difficult or easy was it for your household to meet its financial needs in terms of transportation, housing, food, clothing and other necessary expenses?

Reference period of change - April 2020

These additional questions were included as a supplement to the Labour Force Survey for the two consecutive months of April 2020 and May 2020. These additional questions measure the Labour Market Impact of COVID-19 in the Canadian provinces.

The additional questions, which were asked on a voluntary basis, were:

1. Last week, did [respondent name] work at a job or business?

2. Last week, did [respondent name] have a job or business from which he/she was absent?

3. What was the main reason [respondent name] was absent from work last week?

4. Which of the following best describes [respondent name]'s usual place of work at his/her main job or business?

5. Last week, in which of these locations did [respondent name] work the most hours?

6. To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statement?

[respondent name] might lose his/her main job or main self-employment income source in the next four weeks.

7. Since March 15, did [respondent name] make a new application for any of the following types of Employment Insurance benefits or for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit?

8. Is there a mortgage on this dwelling?

9. Over the last month, that is since [previous month] 15 to today, how difficult or easy was it for your household to meet its financial needs in terms of transportation, housing, food, clothing and other necessary expenses?

Reference period of change - March 2020

Redesign of the questionnaire, data collection, processing and dissemination systems occur approximately every 20 years. In January 2019, the LFS transitioned to the Social Survey Processing Environment (SSPE), a corporate data processing system used by a number of other Statistics Canada programs. The LFS also transitioned to an Integrated Collection and Operation System (ICOS) in March 2020. ICOS is an integrated collection platform that is used by both interviewers and respondents, and supports all data collection modes.

In March 2020, eight questions were added to the LFS to capture additional information on multiple jobholders as well as information on self-employed earnings, employment benefits, main activity of those not in the labour force and older continued workers. This information will be available at the earliest in Fall 2020.

Since March 2020, LFS collection methods have been adapted to ensure the health and safety of Statistics Canada interviewers and respondents. Face-to-face interviews that would have taken place directly in respondents' homes have been replaced by telephone interviews or completed through an online electronic questionnaire.

Reference period of change - November 2019

In addition, this month we have a few questions concerning the recent Federal election that was held on Monday October 21, 2019. Your participation is voluntary but your cooperation is important.

These questions were:

1. Are you a Canadian citizen?
2. The federal election was held on Monday, October 21. In any election, some people are not able to vote because they are sick or busy, or for some other reason. Others do not want to vote. Did you vote in the recent federal election?
3. Why did you not vote?
4. Did you go to a polling station and try to vote?
5. In the past 12 months, did you use Elections Canada's online service to check, update or complete your voter registration?

Reference period of change - November 2018

Labour Force Survey: Additional Content - Fast Track Option on Internet Non-Adopters

In November 2018, four questions were added to the Labour Force Survey on a one-time basis. The additional questions, which were asked on a voluntary basis, were:

1) Do you or anyone in your household have access to the Internet at home?
2) Is this access through a smartphone or mobile data plan, a home-based Internet connection such as cable of Wi-Fi or both?
3) What are the reasons your household does not have a home-based Internet connection?
4) Do you or anyone in your household regularly use the Internet at work, at school, at the home of a friend or family member, in a public place such as a coffee shot, a library or community centre or somewhere else?

Reference period of change - November 2015

The study "Reasons for not voting in the federal election, October 19, 2015" was released on February 22, 2016. Data for this study were derived from five questions added to the November 2015 Labour Force Survey (LFS), commissioned by Elections Canada, to determine the reasons Canadians did not vote in the October 19, 2015, federal election.

These questions were:

1.Are you a Canadian citizen?
2.Did you vote in the recent federal election?
3.Why did you not vote?
4.Did you go to a polling station and try to vote? (if the survey respondent answered "could not prove identity or address" to question 3)
5.In the past 12 months, did you use Elections Canada's online service to check, update or complete your voter registration?

Reference period of change - January 2015

Statistical activity - This program tells a more complete story of current labour market events. A fifth survey, Job Vacancy and Wage Survey (JVWS), has been added. It will provide labour market demand information by occupation, offered wage and region.

Sampling - The survey is conducted on a quarterly sample of 100,000 business locations, except for the first quarter of 2015, which includes a sample of about 67,000 business locations obtained from the regular quarterly sample, or two-thirds of the regular sample. As a result, comparisons of the first quarter of 2015 data with data from subsequent quarters should be made with caution.

Data sources - Starting in 2015, LFS respondents who met certain criteria were offered the option of completing the survey on-line for subsequent interviews.

At the beginning of 2015, all estimates were adjusted to reflect 2011 Census population counts and LFS estimates have been revised back to January 2001. Also, Census metropolitan areas (CMAs), Economic regions (ERs) and Census agglomerations are based on 2011 Census boundaries rather than 2006 boundaries.

Reference period of change - July 2013

Special questions were added to estimate the impact on hours worked of the extensive flooding that occurred in Alberta in the second half of June (after the LFS reference week of June 9 to June 15). The impact of the flooding was in the second half of June. Data from these questions were released in The Daily of August 27, 2013. In reference to the second half of June, four questions were asked of July LFS respondents aged 15 to 69 in Alberta. These questions determined how many people lost work time as a result of the flooding, and how many hours they lost, how many people worked overtime and the amount of overtime they put in.

Reference period of change - March 2012

Language questions, funded by the Department of Human Resources and Skills Development, were added to the March 2012 Labour Force Survey. Data from these questions were released in The Daily of July 10, 2012.

Reference period of change - September 2011

Statistical activity - This program tells a more complete story of current labour market events. A fourth survey, Job Vacancy Statistics (JVS), has been added. JVS offers information on labour demand by reporting on the number of job vacancies by industry.

Reference period of change - May 2011

In May 2011, three questions commissioned by Elections Canada were added to the Labour Force Survey to determine the main reasons Canadians did not vote in the May 2, 2011 federal election.

These voluntary questions were: a) Are you a Canadian citizen; b) Did you vote in the recent federal election held on Monday, May 2, 2011; and, if they did not vote, c) What is the main reason you did not vote?

The data were released in The Daily on July 5, 2011 and February 24, 2012.

Reference period of change - January 2011

Beginning with this release, the standard revision described below under 'December 2010' has been applied to Labour Force Survey (LFS) estimates.

Reference period of change - December 2010

On January 28, 2011, as per an established practice, revised estimates were released to reflect the most recent series of postcensal population estimates; updates to more current industry and occupation classifications; an update of geographic boundaries; as well as an update of seasonal adjustment. For the period from January 1996 up to December 2010, the revised estimates are based on the 2006 Census population counts; estimates prior to 1996 are based on 2001 census population counts. For the period from January 1987 up to December 2010, the revised estimates are based on the North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS) 2007; estimates prior to 1987 are based on NAICS 2002. The structure of the National Occupational Classification - Statistics (NOC-S) 2006 remains unchanged from that of NOC-S 2001; consequently, there are no changes to estimates by occupation. Geography boundaries have also been updated in this revision, moving to the 2006 Standard Geographical Classification (SGC) from the 2001 SGC. New CMA (census metropolitan area) and CA (census agglomeration) estimates have been created based on the 2006 Census boundaries and will date back to 1996. Historical comparisons dating prior to 1996 are still possible by CMA; estimates based on the 2001 Census boundaries and population counts will continue to be available on CANSIM. Boundaries for economic regions remain unchanged. All seasonally adjusted series have been revised back to the start of the series using an update of seasonal adjustment.

A new seasonal adjustment method, X-12-ARIMA, replaces X-11-ARIMA used since 1980. All seasonally adjusted estimates will be revised historically. Also, the actual hours series has been revised to be consistent with the method used by the System of National Accounts labour statistics. The historical series will be revised using this new method.

Reference period of change - April 2010

In April 2010, four special questions were added to the Labour Force Survey (LFS) in the month to estimate how much money residents of Ontario and British Columbia spent on children's footwear or children's car seats over the previous 12 months. These were: a) did you purchase any new car seats or booster seats for a vehicle, whether for your children or as a gift; b) if yes, how much did you spend; c) did you purchase new footwear for children aged 12 and under, whether for your children or as a gift; d) if yes, how much did you spend.

The data were released in The Daily on May 20, 2010.

Reference period of change - January 2010

A new seasonal adjustment method, X-12-ARIMA, replaces X-11-ARIMA used since 1980. All seasonally adjusted estimates will be revised historically. Also, the actual hours series has been revised to be consistent with the method used by the System of National Accounts labour statistics. The historical series will be revised using this new method.

Reference period of change - December 2009

In December 2009, January 2010 and February 2010, four special questions were added to the Labour Force Survey (LFS) to estimate the impact on hours worked of the H1N1 and seasonal flu for the previous month. These were: a) how many people lost work time; b) how many hours they lost; c) the number of people who worked overtime or extra hours and d) the amount of extra time they put in.

The data for November 2009 were released in The Daily on January 15, 2010; those for December 2009 were released in The Daily on February 12, 2010; those for January 2010 were released on March 19, 2010.

Reference period of change - July 2006

As of the July 2006 reference period, LFS data for the territories are being released.

National Labour Force Survey estimates are derived using the results of the LFS in the provinces. Territorial LFS results are not included in the national estimates, but are published separately.

Why the territories are excluded from the national total?

The Labour Force Surveys conducted in the North are extended pilot projects. Difficulties exist with respect to reaching small communities in the territories, and as a result even within the pilot projects there are areas of the territories that are excluded. As well, since the sample design, rotation pattern and reliability criteria are different from those in the ten provinces, estimates for the territories are not included with the provincial totals, but rather they are calculated and reported separately as a part of each of the extended projects.

Reference period of change - January 2006

On January 25, 2006, there was a revision affecting all Labour Force Survey (LFS) estimates from January 1987 to December 2005. There are three reasons for this revision. First, the use of improved population benchmarks provide better information on the number of non-permanent residents. Second, there were changes to the data for the public and private sectors from 1987 to 1999. Finally, the geographic coding of several small Census Agglomerations (CA) were updated historically from 1996 urban centre boundaries to 2001 CA boundaries.

Reference period of change - January 2005

Labour Force Survey (LFS) estimates have undergone extensive revisions. Industry estimates have been classified from the 1997 to the 2002 North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). Occupation estimates have been classified from the 1991 Standard Occupation Classification to the National Occupational Classification: Statistics 2001 (NOC-S). Lastly, geography boundaries have changed from the 1996 Standard Geographical Classification (SGC) to the 2001 SGC, which mainly affects boundaries of census metropolitan areas.

As a result of these changes, LFS estimates have been revised back to January 1976. Users must be aware that beginning with this release, historical comparisons of estimates produced by the LFS must be made with revised historical data.

Revisions and seasonal adjustment - At the beginning of 2005, all estimates were adjusted to reflect 2001 Census population counts (previously based on the 1996 Census estimates).

Reference period of change - April 2004

As of April 2004, the two questions that were added for Alberta in August 2002, were subsequently added for British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. These two questions are to make it possible for Aboriginal people living off reserve to identify themselves as North American Indian, Métis or Inuit.

Reference period of change - January 2004

To comply with Statistics Canada standards, the manufacturing durable and non-durable industry data have been modified, moving the NAICS code 3391-3399 from Non-durable to Durable.

We have also changed the NAICS industry group name (codes 55-56) from "Management of companies, administrative and other support services" to "Business, building and other support services".

A new age group - 15 to 64 years - has been added to the monthly, seasonally adjusted and unadjusted data table.

Reference period of change - February 2003

The flood in Badger, Newfoundland and Labrador, prevented Labour Force Survey interviewing in that community in February. Since the town is relatively small, the impact on survey non-response for the province was negligible, as it was for economic region 040 (Notre Dame-Central Bonavista Bay), and employment insurance region 2 (Newfoundland and Labrador). As a result, the flood did not affect the reliability of the Labour Force Survey estimates in any of these areas.

Reference period of change - January 2003

A new age group - 45 to 64 years - has been added.

Reference period of change - August 2002

Beginning in August 2002 at the request of the Alberta government, two questions were added to make it possible for Aboriginal people living off reserve to identify themselves as North American Indian, Métis or Inuit.

Reference period of change - October 2000

Statistical activity - Together, three monthly surveys tell a more complete story of current labour market events. These surveys are: the Labour Force Survey (LFS), the Survey of Employment, Payrolls and Hours (SEPH) and the Employment Insurance Statistics (EIS).

For changes that occurred prior to November 2000, please refer to the document entitled History of the Labour Force Survey available in the "Documentation" section located at the end of the detailed information for this survey.

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