Survey of Volunteer Workers

Detailed information for 1980




One Time

Record number:


The purpose of the survey was to basic information on volunteer workers in general, rather than focusing on the characteristics, activities, or motivations of any particular group of volunteer workers.

Data release - October 1, 1981


The supplementary Survey of Volunteer Workers is the second of its kind and the first of its scale in Canada. Because so very little information is available on volunteer work in Canada, this survey has been designed to collect only basic information on volunteer workers in general rather than focusing on the characteristics, activities, or motivations of any particular group of volunteer workers. The survey therefore has as its objective the collection of data which will answer the following questions: i) 'What is the total quality of volunteer work done in Canada?' To answer this we need to know how many people do any volunteer work at all and how many hours of volunteer work are contributed by each of these persons. ii) 'What types of community organizations are served by volunteer workers?' and 'What kind of work do the volunteers do for these agencies?' (iii) Since volunteer work contributes greatly to the quality of life in our communities, it is something to be encouraged. In order to increase or at least maintain the overall supply of volunteer work, it is necessary to know, 'why those who have done volunteer work in the past are no longer doing it?' and 'why those who have given consideration to doing volunteer work have not acted on their intentions?' The survey collects data from volunteer workers in households randomly selected.

Reference period: Most of the estimates refer to the week containing the 15th day of the month or to the 12 month period February 1979 to February 1980.


  • Labour
  • Society and community
  • Unpaid work
  • Volunteering and donating

Data sources and methodology

Target population

All persons 15 years of age and over residing in Canada with the exception of inmates of institutions, full-time members of the armed forces, and residents of the Yukon and Northwest Territories, and Indian Reserves. (These exceptions represent less than 3% of the population.)


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

The survey is based on the multistage stratified, clustered, probability, area sample of the Labour Force Survey.

Data sources

Responding to this survey is voluntary.

Data are collected directly from survey respondents.

All interviewing is done by personal visit or by telephone. (Telephone interviewing is confined to urban areas in households in their second to sixth months in sample.) Wherever possible the interviewer attempts to obtain the information directly from the respondent, but failing that, information is accepted from another household member.

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

Error detection

Data capture occurs in the regional offices and after the records are transmitted to Ottawa, they are subjected to comprehensive editing, imputation, and tabulation.


The LFS records are weighted using what can be thought of as a three-stage process. The first stage involves the assignment to each record of the inverse of the design sampling ratio applicable to the geographic area where the respondent represented by that record resides. The second stage involves adjustments to the weight assigned in the first stage. These include an adjustment for the rural/urban distribution of the population and an adjustment for non-response (both performed for relatively small sub-provincial areas). It also includes an adjustment for unanticipated population growth in particular small areas selected for the sample (clusters) and an adjustment for the fact that the sample size remains constant (55,000 households) resulting in a slowly declining sampling ratio as the population grows. The third stage involves the comparison of the sum of the weights assigned to the records in the first two stages to population totals derived from sources independent of the LFS. These comparisons are done for 38 age-sex groups for each province. The weights for all records belonging to an age-sex province group are then adjusted so that their sum is equal to the corresponding independently derived population total. The independently derived population totals are obtained as projections from the annual post-censal estimates of population produced by demography division with adjustments to reflect the exclusions described in Design and Procedures. An adjustment is made to the basic LFS sampling weight to reflect the subsampling of rotation groups and the difference in non-response between the LFS and the supplementary survey.

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.

In order to prevent any data disclosure, confidentiality analysis is done using the Statistics Canada Generalized Disclosure Control System (G-Confid). G-Confid is used for primary suppression (direct disclosure) as well as for secondary suppression (residual disclosure). Direct disclosure occurs when the value in a tabulation cell is composed of or dominated by few enterprises while residual disclosure occurs when confidential information can be derived indirectly by piecing together information from different sources or data series.

Revisions and seasonal adjustment

This methodology does not apply to this survey.

Data accuracy

The estimates are based on a national sample of slightly less than 1% of the population. The resulting sampling errors, which can be measured, vary according to a number of factors the most important of which is the size of the estimate. Sampling variance indicators are published in 'The Labour Force'.

Errors unrelated to sampling can occur at every stage of a survey. These non-sampling errors range from the respondent misunderstanding the question to errors introduced during processing. Mechanisms to minimize these errors are in place although the final estimates are still affected to some degree.

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