Life After Service Survey (LASS)

Detailed information for 2016





Record number:


This 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 - June 23, 2017


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 personnel after transition to civilian life;
- Examine how health outcomes compare between released Reserve and Regular Force personnel;
- 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. This survey is expected to be a resource to the sponsors for the next twenty years.

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 LASS 2016 had two target populations. The primary difference between the two groups is that the longitudinal population followed those released prior to 2013 where the cross-sectional population covered those released prior to 2016 and excluded all Reserve Forces.

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

The longitudinal observed population consisted of Regular Forces released from the Canadian Armed Forces 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 B service for the Reserve Class A/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 ten 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 Canadian Armed Forces prior to 2016 and who are not re-enlisted at the time of the survey and 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 Veterans Affairs Canada services.

The cross-sectional observed population consisted of Regular Forces released from the Canadian Armed Forces during the years 1998-2015 and who were not enlisted at the time of the survey. Persons in the observed population were to be living in the ten provinces of Canada, were not living in long-term care facilities and could not be entry rank at release.

Instrument design

The Life After Service Survey (LASS) 2016 is the second cycle of LASS; the first cycle was LASS 2013. LASS 2016 was developed in two ways. First, development drew from concepts and survey content from LASS 2013. Some sections were modified or dropped while new content was added, but many aspects of LASS 2013 were retained. LASS 2013 content had been developed in coordination with survey sponsors, 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. In addition, a health measure (SF-12v2) was used, which is a reduced item scale based on the SF-36 health measure.

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. Qualitative testing was performed to test new and revised content with former Regular Force and Reserve Force members and to determine if content modifications were required for a survey containing longitudinal design elements. A total of twenty-three cognitive interviews were conducted where participants were administered the test questionnaire on a face-to-face basis to determine if the content was indeed relevant and well understood. Another requirement of the qualitative testing was to determine the suitability of certain time-specific and recall-sensitive topics in a longitudinal survey.


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

The 2016 LASS is a cross-sectional survey with longitudinal follow-up. It features a stratified random sample of released Canadian Armed Forces personnel.

Longitudinal cohort:
Eligible respondents from the LASS 2013 were re-contacted for the LASS 2016.

New cohort:
A new cohort was selected in 2016. Given the key domains were based on type of veteran, rank and class, the frame was stratified into three groups of Regular Forces (Officers, Seniors and Juniors).
This sample when combined with those from 2013 that are in the cross-sectional observed population comprise the cross-sectional sample. The survey frame of the new cohort was the list of Regular Forces releases from September 2012 to August 2015 supplied by VAC.

There were two list frames to create the sample file: The Department of National Defense and Canadian Armed Forces Human Resources Management System and Veterans Affairs Canada Reporting Database.

The sampling units consists of Canadian Armed Forces personnel who were released from the Canadian Armed Forces. For the longitudinal sample they were released prior to 2013. For the cross-sectional sample they were released prior to 2016.

The frame was stratified into three groups of Regular Forces (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 3,270 which was described in the sample design section. It is a follow-up of the respondents from the 2013 LASS that were still in the 2016 observed population definition.

New cohort
The total sample size of the new cohort was fixed at 2,000. Roughly equal sample sizes amongst the three strata of Regular Forces were desired after four cycles of data collection in order to produce estimates. Assumptions were made in order to calculate sample size for each group. They were based on the rates that were achieved in the LASS 2013 and expectations for future waves.

The LASS 2016 sample sizes by strata were calculated by applying expected response and out-of-scope rates.

Data sources

Data collection for this reference period: 2016-02-01 to 2016-03-31

Responding to this survey is voluntary.

Data are collected directly from survey respondents.

The survey collection period was from February to March 2016 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 LASS. 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. Help screens were provided to the interviewers to assist them in answering the questions of respondents. 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. For the cross-sectional portion of LASS 2016, respondents were considered to be out of scope if they had rejoined the Canadian Armed Forces or Reserves, were living outside the ten 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) .

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 of disclosure of any information deemed confidential. If necessary, data are suppressed to prevent direct or residual disclosure of identifiable data.

Personal identifiers are removed from the file.

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