Life After Service Survey (LASS)

Detailed information for 2019





Record number:


The Life After Service Survey (LASS) is a national longitudinal survey that collects information on the transition from military to civilian life, general health and well-being, chronic conditions, labour force participation and other related information. An important goal of the survey is to understand the transition period from military to civilian life and health outcomes in Canadian Veterans.

Data release - January 16, 2020


The Life After Service Survey (LASS) is one component of multiple Veterans studies, with the following objectives:
- measure the health outcomes of released Reserve and Regular Force members after transition to civilian life;
- examine how health outcomes compare between released Reserve and Regular Force members;
- examine how health outcomes change over time;
- examine program reach, unmet needs not addressed by current programs, and program effectiveness.

LASS determinants of health include income, social support, education, employment, personal health practices, and access to health services.

Statistics Canada conducts all phases of the survey on a cost-recovery basis.

Reference period: Calendar year


  • Diseases and health conditions
  • Employment and unemployment
  • Health
  • Health care services
  • Labour
  • Mental health and well-being

Data sources and methodology

Target population

The 2019 Life After Service Survey (LASS) has two target populations. The primary difference between the two groups is that the longitudinal population covered the persons who were released from the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) prior to 2013, whereas the cross-sectional population covered the persons who were released from the CAF prior to 2019, and excluded all persons who were released from the Reserve Force.

Longitudinal population:
The longitudinal population consists of persons who were released from the CAF prior to 2013 and who are not re-enlisted at the time of the survey. Additionally, in 2016 and 2019, this population excludes any Regular Force or Reserve Force members that were released at entry rank and any Reserve Force members class A or B with less than 3.5 years of class B service over their career. The target population consists of people who were eligible to be contacted and offered Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) services at the time of the LASS 2013.

The longitudinal observed population consisted of the Regular Force released from the CAF during the years 1998-2012 and Reservists released from 2003-2012 with the imposed stipulations of not being entry rank at release and having at least 3.5 years of class B service for the Reserve Force members class A or B. As well, the observed population consisted of those who were not currently enlisted. Persons in the observed population were respondents to the 2013 LASS, were to be living in the 10 provinces of Canada, and were not living in long-term care facilities.

Cross-sectional population:
The cross-sectional target population consists of Regular Force persons who were released from the CAF prior to 2019 and who are not re-enlisted at the time of the survey and not still serving in the forces. Additionally, Regular Force members that were released at entry rank are excluded. This population is people who are eligible to be contacted and offered VAC services.

The cross-sectional observed population consisted of the Regular Force released from the CAF during the years 1998-2018 and who were not enlisted at the time of the survey. Persons in the observed population were to be living in the 10 provinces of Canada, were not to be living in long-term care facilities and could not be entry rank at release.

Instrument design

The Life After Service Survey (LASS) 2019 is the third cycle of LASS; the first cycle was LASS 2013 and the second cycle was LASS 2016. LASS 2019 was developed in two ways. First, development drew from concepts and survey content from LASS 2013 and LASS 2016. Some sections were modified or dropped while new content was added, but many aspects of LASS 2016 and LASS 2013 were retained. LASS 2013 content had been developed in coordination with survey sponsor, Veterans Affairs Canada. Second, survey content for LASS relies heavily on the use of pretested and previously developed harmonized content. Consequently, harmonized content was used to reduce development and testing time for generic blocks such as income, labour force participation and education. Survey content from the Canadian Community Health Survey was also used for blocks such as chronic conditions, pain and discomfort, limitations in daily activities, alcohol consumption, and contacts with health professionals.

For the previous versions of LASS, the questionnaire underwent qualitative testing by the Questionnaire Design Resource Center (QDRC) to determine if any changes were necessary to ensure that respondents could comprehend the items within the questionnaire. The QDRC was consulted about the LASS 2019 questionnaire, and it was determined that since so little content changed, and that the content that did get added came from either LASS 2013 or from other Statistics Canada questionnaires, no qualitative testing was required.


This is a sample survey with a cross-sectional design and a longitudinal follow-up.

It features a stratified random sample of released Canadian Armed Forces personnel.

Longitudinal cohort
Eligible respondents from the Life After Service Survey (LASS) 2013 and 2016 were re-contacted for the LASS 2019.

New cohort
A new cohort was selected in 2019. Given the key domains were based on type of veteran, rank and class, the frame was stratified into three groups of the Regular Force (Officers, Seniors and Juniors).

There sampling frame was constructed using files from the following sources: the Department of National Defence and Canadian Armed Forces Human Resources Management System, and Veterans Affairs Canada Reporting Database.

The sampling units consist of Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members who were released from the CAF. For the longitudinal sample they were released between 1998 and 2012. For the cross-sectional sample they were between 1998 and 2018.

The frame was stratified into three groups of the Regular Force (Officers, Seniors and Juniors) to sample the new cohort. Independent samples were selected from within these three strata.

Longitudinal cohort
The sample size for the longitudinal cohort is 2,400. It is a follow-up of the respondents from the 2013 LASS and the 2016 LASS.

New cohort
The total sample size of the new cohort was fixed at 2,000. Roughly equal sample sizes amongst the three strata of the Regular Force were desired after data collection in order to produce estimates. Assumptions were made in order to calculate sample size for each group. They were based on the response and out-of-scope rates that were achieved in the LASS 2016.

Data sources

Data collection for this reference period: 2019-03-04 to 2019-05-03

Responding to this survey is voluntary.

Data are collected directly from survey respondents.

The survey collection period was from March to May 2019 and administered in three regional offices of Statistics Canada located in Sherbrooke, Halifax and Edmonton. The mode of collection was Computer Assisted Telephone Interview (CATI). Initial contact and interview termination modules, based on a standard template used for CATI surveys conducted at Statistics Canada, were adapted for Life After Service Survey. The application included a standard set of response codes to identify all possible outcomes. The application was tested prior to use to ensure that only valid question responses could be entered and that all question flows would be correctly followed. The application included edits to check the consistency of responses. These measures ensured that the response data were already "clean" at the end of the collection process.

Prior to collection, interviewers underwent training to introduce some of the pertinent issues covered in the questionnaire, as well as to familiarize the interviewers with the questions using examples of entire interviews. Also prior to collection, to each person for whom sufficient mailing address information was available, Statistics Canada sent an introductory letter.

Interviewers followed a standard approach used for many Statistics Canada surveys in order to introduce the agency, the name and purpose of the survey, the collaboration with the Department of National Defence and Veterans Affairs Canada, how the survey results would be used and when the results were expected to become available. Selected persons were told that their participation in the survey was voluntary, and that their information would remain strictly confidential.

The workload at each regional office was managed by an on-site project manager. The CATI system featured an automated scheduler to assign cases randomly to interviewers and to ensure that cases were called at different times of the day and on different days of the week to maximize the probability of contact.

Proxy responses on behalf of persons selected into the sample were not accepted. Partial interviews were not accepted as complete. A complete interview lasted approximately 42 minutes. Respondents were considered in-scope if their age was within +/- 5 years from the one recorded on the sample file and have returned to civilian life after being a member of the regular Canadian Armed Forces or the Reserves. Respondents were considered to be out of scope if they had rejoined the Canadian Armed Forces or Reserves, were living outside the 10 provinces or were deceased. Responses to survey questions are captured directly by the interviewer at the time of the interview using a computerized questionnaire. The computerized questionnaire reduces processing time and costs associated with data entry, transcription errors and data transmission. The response data are encrypted to ensure confidentiality and transferred over a secure network for further processing.

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

Error detection

While rigorous quality assurance mechanisms were applied across all steps of the statistical process, validation and scrutiny of the data by statisticians were the ultimate quality checks prior to dissemination. Many validation measures were implemented, they include:

a) verification of estimates through cross-tabulations
b) confrontation with the 2016 Life After Service Survey data
c) consultation with stakeholders internal to Statistics Canada
d) consultation with external stakeholders
e) coherence analysis based on quality indicators.


This methodology type does not apply to this statistical program.


When a probability sample is used, as is the case for the Life After Service Survey (LASS), the principle behind estimation is that each person selected in the sample represents (in addition to himself/herself) several other persons not in the sample. For example, in a simple random sample of 2% of a population of 1000 people, each person in the sample represents 50 persons in the population (himself/herself and 49 others). Weighting is a process that computes a weight for each respondent. For LASS, two sets of weights are computed: one for longitudinal estimates and the other for cross-sectional estimates.

The following steps were performed to produce longitudinal weights for the LASS.

1. The initial weight for each longitudinal unit is the master weight from the 2016 LASS in order to represent the same initial population as in 2016.
2. The weights of the nonresponding units were redistributed to responding units and to units identified as out-of-scope during collection.

The following steps were performed to produce cross-sectional weights for the LASS.

1. The cross-sectional weights for the respondents from the longitudinal cohort were set to the value of the longitudinal weights.
2. The initial design weights for the new cohort were defined as the inverse of the probability of selection.
3. Some of the non-respondents of the new cohort may be out-of-scope. This was taken into account by multiplying their weights by the in-scope rate.
4. The weights of the nonresponding new cohort units were redistributed to responding new cohort units.

Quality evaluation

Considerable time and effort was made to reduce non-sampling errors in the survey. Quality assurance measures were implemented at each step of the data collection and processing cycle to monitor the quality of the data. These measures include extensive training of interviewers with respect to the survey procedures and computer-assisted telephone interviewing (CATI) application, observation of interviews to detect problems of questionnaire design or misunderstanding of instructions, and testing of the CATI application to ensure that range checks, edits and question flow were all programmed correctly.

Disclosure control

Statistics Canada is prohibited by law from releasing any information it collects that 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.

Revisions and seasonal adjustment

This methodology type does not apply to this statistical program.

Data accuracy

Since the Life After Service Survey (LASS) is a sample survey, all estimates are subject to both sampling and non-sampling errors.

Non-sampling errors can be defined as errors arising during the course of virtually all survey activities, apart from sampling. These include coverage errors, non-response errors, response errors, interviewer errors, coding errors, and other types of processing errors.

The 2019 response rate for the LASS was 81.3% for the longitudinal cohort and 65.1% for the new cohort. For the longitudinal cohort, the overall response rate was 46.5%; this overall response rate takes into account the nonresponse that occurred in 2013, 2016 and 2019 collection. Non-respondents often have different characteristics from respondents, which can result in bias. Attempts were made to reduce the potential nonresponse bias as much as possible through weighting adjustments.

Sampling error is defined as the error that arises because an estimate is based on a sample rather than the entire population. The sampling error for LASS is reported through 95% confidence intervals. The 95% confidence interval of an estimate means that if the survey were repeated over and over again, then 95% of the time (or 19 times out of 20), the confidence interval would cover the true population value.

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