General Social Survey - Time Use (GSS)

Detailed information for 2020 (Pilot test)




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.

Data release - Data will not be released for this pilot


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 provides 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 such as:
- Are we working too many hours and spending too much time commuting?
- Do we have flexible work schedules?
- Do we have enough time to play sports, participate in leisure activities or volunteer?
- Are we spending enough quality time with our children, our families and our friends?
- How has the internet and social media affected the way we spend our time?
- Are we satisfied with our lives?

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.


  • Society and community
  • Time use

Data sources and methodology

Target population

The target population for the survey is non-institutionalized persons 15 years of age or older, living in the 10 provinces. For the survey, a single eligible member of each sampled household is selected. For half of the sample, the respondent will be randomly selected while for the other half of the sample a targeted respondent was selected.

Instrument design

The electronic questionnaire is based on qualitative testing and interviewers and respondents debriefing.


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

The General Social Survey on Time Use (GSS) is conducted with a subsample of the Labor Force Survey. Its sampling plan is thus closely linked to that of the LFS. The ESG uses LFS renewal groups that have completed their 6-month participation between August 2018 and March 2019 or between August 2019 and October 2019. LFS units with a valid email address and having responded electronically were selected.

Data sources

Data collection for this reference period: 2020-01-07 to 2020-02-17

Responding to this survey is voluntary.

Data are collected directly from survey respondents.

Data are collected using EQ.

First contact was made by letter prior to the start of collection.

The average time to complete the survey is 15 minutes.

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


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