General Social Survey - Caregiving and Care Receiving (GSS)

Detailed information for 2017 (Cycle 32, Pilot Survey)




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.

The purpose of this survey is to provide a snapshot of the lives of caregivers and care receivers in today's Canada.

Data release - No data will be released for the pilot portion of GSS Cycle 32.


This survey collects data on the situation of Canadians who receive help or care because of a long-term health condition, a disability or problems related to aging, and of those who provide help or care to family members or friends with those conditions. Data from this survey will help us to better understand the needs and challenges faced by these Canadians, and allow policy makers to design programs that meet their needs.

Questions in the survey cover the types and amount of care family caregivers provide, the kinds and amounts of care Canadians receive, and the unmet needs of those who need care but are not receiving it. An expanded set of questions covers the impact of caregiving on various aspects of the lives of caregivers. All respondents are asked questions about their overall health, employment, housing and other socio-demographic characteristics such as birth place, religion and language.

Results from this survey will be used by analysts and researchers to study current situations and trends, and by many government departments to develop policies and programs that can have an impact on individuals who receive care, their families, those who provide care, and those who may need or provide care in the future.

Statistical activity

This record is part of the General Social Survey (GSS) program. The GSS, originating in 1985, conducts telephone surveys. 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.

Until 1998, the target sample size was approximately 10,000 persons. For 2011, this was established at 25,000. With a sample of 25,000, results are available at both the national and provincial levels and possibly for some special population groups such as visible minorities and seniors.


  • Society and community

Data sources and methodology

Target population

The target population for the GSS32-Pilot includes all persons 15 years of age and older living in Nova Scotia, Québec, and Ontario. It excludes full-time (residing for more than six months) residents of institutions.

Instrument design

The questionnaire was designed based on research and extensive consultations with data users. Qualitative testing, conducted by Statistics Canada's Questionnaire Design Resource Center (QDRC), was carried out, with respondents in Ottawa, who were screened in based on representative criteria. Questions which worked well and others that needed clarification or redesign were highlighted. QDRC staff compiled a detailed report of the results along with their recommendations. All comments and feedback from qualitative testing were carefully considered and incorporated into the survey whenever possible.


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

This survey uses a frame that combines landline and cellular telephone numbers from the Census and various administrative sources with Statistics Canada's dwelling frame. Records on the frame are groups of one or several telephone numbers associated with the same address (or single telephone number in the case a link between a telephone number and an address could not be established). This sampling frame is used to obtain a better coverage of households with a telephone number.

For Cycle 32, a technique called "rejective sampling" is used to reach more caregivers and care receivers. This technique has been used in other surveys in order to include more respondents from hard-to-reach or small populations. After a respondent is classified as a caregiver, care receiver, both or neither, sub-sampling is carried out for selected respondents who are neither caregivers nor care receivers. All respondents who are caregivers or care receivers do a long interview. Those who are NOT caregivers or care receivers are randomly divided into two groups. One group do a long interview, while the other group do a short interview.

Data sources

Data collection for this reference period: 2017-10-10 to 2017-11-10

Responding to this survey is voluntary.

Data are collected directly from survey respondents.

Data are collected directly from survey respondents either through an electronic questionnaire or through CATI (computer assisted telephone interviewing).
Proxy interviews are permitted over the phone in cases where the selected respondent does not speak either of the official languages or where the respondent is not able to take part in the survey because of health reasons.

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

Error detection

Not applicable for pilot


Not applicable for this pilot survey.


Not applicable for pilot

Quality evaluation

Not applicable for this pilot survey.

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

For micro data: content is reduced and modified. For tabular data: sensitive cells correction methods such as cell collapsing and suppression are applied.

Revisions and seasonal adjustment

This methodology does not apply to this survey.

Data accuracy

Not applicable for this pilot survey.


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