Survey on Sexual Misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces (SSMCAF)

Detailed information for 2022





Record number:


The Survey on Sexual Misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces (SSMCAF) collects information on experiences of sexual misconduct in the military workplace. The results will be used to inform policies and training to promote culture change and future support services for those affected by sexual misconduct. Results will be compared with those of previous surveys to monitor progress.

Data release - December 5, 2023


The overall objective of this survey is to gather data on the prevalence and nature of self-reported sexual misconduct within the military workplace and/or involving military members, Department of National Defence (DND) employees, or DND contractors within or outside the military workplace.

The SSMCAF has the following specific objectives:

- Measure the prevalence and nature of inappropriate sexual behaviours and sexual assault within the Regular Force and the Primary Reserve;
- Measure the prevalence and nature of discriminatory behaviours based on sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity;
- Measure military members' perceptions of the CAF's response to the issue of sexual misconduct;
- Measure CAF's progress in addressing sexual misconduct in the ranks.

Statistics Canada conducted all phases of the survey on a cost-recovery basis for the Canadian Armed Forces.

Reference period: Previous 12-month period


  • Society and community

Data sources and methodology

Target population

The target population included both Regular Force and Primary Reserve members in the CAF. There were also exclusions. For the Regular Force, the following cases were considered out-of-scope:

1. members in training (basic, occupational);
2. members in university;
3. members on maternity/paternity leave;
4. members on leave without pay;
5. members on retirement leave; and,
6. members who had a medical condition that precluded them from returning to their normal place of duty for a period of six months or more.

For the Primary Reserve, the following cases were considered out-of-scope:

1. members on maternity/paternity leave;
2. members on leave without pay;
3. members on retirement leave; and,
4. members who had a medical condition that precluded them from returning to their normal place of duty for a period of six months or more.

The survey population was identified from administrative files prepared by the Department of National Defence (DND).

Instrument design

The questionnaire content development involved a review of international survey instruments developed and implemented to measure the prevalence of sexual misconduct in the context of the military environment. Subject matter experts within Statistics Canada (STC) were also consulted. In addition, the 2022 questionnaire content was reviewed in view of the comparability of SSMCAF 2022 measures with SSMCAF 2018 and 2016 measures and with other STC surveys, namely the General Social Survey on Victimization.

Once the questions were reviewed, they underwent qualitative testing by the STC Questionnaire Design Resource Center (QDRC), to ensure that respondents could comprehend the questions, and to ensure that they were meaningful and would yield valid results.

Qualitative testing in the form of one-on-one interviews were conducted in four sites: Ottawa, Borden and Gagetown. Interviewees included a mix of CAF members with different demographic and work-related characteristics, including sex, age, rank, environmental command and Regular Force/Reserve Force status.

The survey content was finalized in collaboration with DND. An electronic questionnaire application was then developed, where the content was created into individual survey blocks and, eventually, into an integrated application.


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

The sample design is a census of the in-scope population, namely Regular Force and Primary Reserve members. The sampling units consist of Regular Force and Primary Reserve members. The sample size and the population size are the same. The population is broken down by capability component: Army, Navy, Air Force, CMP, Other, for both the Regular Force and the Primary Reserve Force.

Data sources

Data collection for this reference period: 2022-10-11 to 2023-01-26

Responding to this survey is voluntary.

Data are collected directly from survey respondents.

Data are collected using an electronic questionnaire (EQ).

The EQ application includes a standard set of response codes to identify all possible outcomes and include soft edits to check the consistency of responses for some questions. The EQ application was tested prior to use to ensure that non-valid responses are flagged and that all question flows produce the correct result. These measures helped to limit the amount of response data that had to be "cleaned" at the end of the collection process.

In order to introduce the agency, the name and purpose of the survey, and how the survey results will be used, were described in the introduction page of the electronic application. Persons were being told that their participation in the survey was voluntary, and that their information would remain strictly confidential.

At the start of collection, Statistics Canada sent an email invitation to each person with an available work email address. For those without an available work email address, a letter invitation was sent via Canada Post. Mail and email reminders were sent multiple times during collection.

Responses to survey questions were always captured directly by the secure network when respondents submitted questionnaires. Electronic questionnaires are typically considered more appropriate when asking questions containing sensitive content, which also reduces transcription errors. The response data were encrypted to ensure confidentiality and transferred over a secure network for further processing.

Statistics Canada will not link the survey data with any other sources of information.

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

Error detection

Electronic files containing the daily transmissions of completed respondent survey records were combined to create the "raw" survey file. Before processing the data further, verification were performed to identify and eliminate duplicate records and to drop non-response and out-of-scope records.

After the verification stage, editing was performed to identify errors and modify affected data at the individual variable level. The first editing step is to identify errors and determine which items from the survey output need to be kept on the survey master file. Subsequent to this, invalid characters were deleted and the remaining data items were formatted appropriately.

The first type of errors to be treated were errors in questionnaire flow, where questions that did not apply to the respondent (and should therefore have remained unanswered) are found to contain answers. In these cases, a computer edit automatically eliminate superfluous data by following the flow of the questionnaire implied by answers to previous, and in some cases, subsequent questions. For skips based on answered questions, all skipped questions are set to "Valid skip" (6, 96, 996, etc.). For skips based on "Don't know" or "Refusal", all skipped questions are set to "Not stated" (9, 99, 999, etc.). The remaining empty items are filled with a numeric value (9, 99, 999, etc., depending on variable length). These codes are reserved for processing purposes and mean that the item was "Not stated".

Consistency edits were also applied before releasing the data.


No imputation methods were employed.


The principle behind estimation in a probability sample is that each unit in the sample "represents", besides itself, several other units not in the sample. For example, in a simple random 2% sample of the population, each unit in the sample represents 50 units in the population.

The weighting phase is a step which calculates, for each record, how many units in the population each sample unit represents. This weight appears on the microdata file, and must be used to derive meaningful estimates from the survey.

The SSMCAF is a census rather than a sample. If the response rate to the survey was 100%, the weights would be one for each respondent; however, the survey response rate was not 100%. Consequently, the survey weights were inflated to take into account survey non-response. Each respondent to the SSMCAF represents her or himself, and possibly several other non-respondents.

The following sub-section describes the method used to generate weights for the SSMCAF.

The weights were calculated in three steps:

1. Design Weight: The SSMCAF is a census; therefore, the design weights are set to 1 for all in-scope individuals on the survey frame.

2. Non-response Adjustments: The weights of the respondents are adjusted to represent the individuals who do no not respond to the survey. The adjustment factors were calculated within non-response weighting classes formed using frame information. The frame variables age, sex and Regular Force/Reserve Force were used to define the weighting classes.

3. Calibration: The weights were calibrated so that the sum of the SSMCAF weights match frame counts for age group, sex, regular force / reserve force, rank and command organization.

The survey used weighting adjustments for which there was no simple formula that could be used to calculate variance estimates. Therefore, the bootstrap method, a resampling method, was used to calculate variance estimates.

Quality evaluation

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 comparison of similar measures within the survey
b. Verification of estimates through cross-tabulations
c. Confrontation with previous cycles of SSMCAF and other similar sources of data
d. Consultation with stakeholders internal to Statistics Canada
e. Consultation with external stakeholders
f. Coherence analysis based on quality indicators

Disclosure control

Statistics Canada is prohibited by law from releasing any data which would divulge information obtained under the Statistics Act that relates to any identifiable person, business or organization, unless consent was given by the respondent or as permitted by the Statistics Act. Various confidentiality rules were applied to all data that were released or published to prevent the publication or disclosure of any information deemed confidential. When necessary, data were suppressed to prevent direct or residual disclosure of identifiable data.

The micro data file does not contain any personal identifiers. Individual responses and results for very small groups are not and will not be published nor shared with Department of National Defence or the Canadian Armed Forces.

For aggregate or tabular data, confidentiality was maintained by both cell collapsing and suppression of data where necessary.

Revisions and seasonal adjustment

This methodology does not apply.

Data accuracy

Sampling error is defined as the error that results from estimating a population characteristic by measuring a portion of the population rather than the entire population. While the SSMCAF is a census, the estimates are not based on the entire population due to nonresponse. The methodology for this survey assumed that the respondents were a probability sample of the population.

One commonly used measure to quantify sampling error is the estimated standard error which is the square root of the estimated variance. Another commonly used measure is the coefficient of variation (CV) which is the estimated standard error divided by the estimate itself.

The overall response rate for the SSMCAF was 28%. The response rate for Regular Force was 33%, and the response rate for Primary Reserve was 17%.

Quality measures were calculated using the bootstrap variance method.


Measurement errors (sometime referred to as response errors) occur when the response provided differs from the real value; such errors may be attributable to the respondent, the questionnaire, the collection method or the respondent's record-keeping system. Such errors may be random; however, if they are not random, they may result in a systematic bias.

In this survey, to understand how much coherence there is in the reported data, information on the initial (frame) file were compared to information obtained directly from respondents. This would include variables such as the respondent's sex, rank and age.

Several measures were taken prior to collection to decrease the chance of response error. These measures included questionnaire review and testing using cognitive methods to detect questionnaire design problems or misinterpretation of instructions.


Processing errors are associated with the activities conducted once survey responses have been received. They include all data handling activities after collection and prior to estimation. Like all other sources of error, processing errors can be random in nature, and inflate the variance of the survey estimates, or systematic, and introduce bias. It is difficult to obtain direct measures of processing errors and their impact on data quality, especially since they are mixed in with other types of errors (non-response, measurement and coverage).

Data processing of the SSMCAF was completed in a number of steps, including data capture, verification, coding, editing, etc. At each step, a picture of the output file was taken and verifications were done by comparing files at the current and previous step. Completing these steps should have greatly improved the chance that errors were not introduced at the data processing stage.

Coverage errors consist of omissions, erroneous inclusions, duplications and misclassifications of units in the survey frame. Since they affect every estimate produced by the survey, they are one of the main sources of error. Coverage errors may cause a bias in the estimates and their effects can vary for different sub-groups of the population. This is a very difficult error to measure or quantify accurately.

For this survey, CAF members were able to call the STC survey help desk to take part in the survey, provided that they could demonstrate that they were in-scope. To determine if a member was eligible (in-scope) to complete the electronic questionnaire, help desk staff administered a short screening questionnaire. During the collection period, the equivalent of less than 0.1% of the original population size was added to the survey frame for collection.

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