Survey of Union Membership

Detailed information for 1984




One Time

Record number:


The purpose of this survey is to answer a number of questions about union membership.

Data release - October 18, 1994


The Survey of Union Membership is being conducted by Statistics Canada, in co-operation with Labour Canada. In recent years there has been increased interest in the impact of labour unions on the labour market as a result of a reduction in economic growth, the rapid introduction of technological innovations in the workplace, a slowdown in the growth of unions, the increased participation of women in the workplace and growing expectations among workers regarding the quality of their working conditions and their work environment.

This survey hopes to answer a number of questions, some of which are: 1) How many workers have their wages and other conditions of work determined by a collective agreement? 2) Among those employees who are covered by collective agreements, how many are actually union members? 3) Which industries and provinces are the most highly unionized? 4) Do the wages and pension plans of union members and non union workers differ significantly?


  • Labour
  • Unionization and industrial relations

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.

A detailed description of the methodology is available in the Statistics Canada publications entitled Methodology of the Canadian Labour Force Survey, 1976 (Catalogue 71-526) and "Post 1981 Censal Redesign of the Canadian Labour Force Survey", Survey Methodology, December 1984, Vol. 10, No. 2 pp. 127-140. The LFS is a stratified multi-stage area sample based upon information from the 1971 Census of Population. The sample consists of three main components: self-representation units (SRU's), non self-representing units (NSRU's) and special areas.

Data sources

Data collection for this reference period: December 17, 1984 to December 22, 1984

Responding to this survey is voluntary.

Data are collected directly from survey respondents.

Data for the SUM were collected during the week of December 17-22, 1984. Most of the labour force variables relate to the reference week of December 9-15, 1984. In the rotation groups used by the SUM, most of the information was collected by telephone from one knowledgeable and responsible member per household. Due to the nature of the information being sought, however, the regular LFS interviewing procedures were modified to limit the amount of proxy response. As a result, 54% of the SUM information was obtained directly from the person concerned, compared to the 30% normally seen in the LFS.

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

Error detection

Following capture, the data were subjected to validation, edit and correction procedures.


Partial non-response to the SUM was identified by subjecting the raw data to an exhaustive computer edit. Records with missing or inconsistent data were imputed from similar records except in those cases where the respondent refused to provide his/her usual wage or salary. Records in this category were dropped from the file.


The principle behind the estimation procedure in a probability, sample such as the LFS is that each person in the sample 'represents', beside himself or herself, several other persons not in the sample. For example, in a simple random sample of 2% of the population, each person in the sample represents 50 persons in the population. Estimates of characteristics for the entire population could be generated by producing 50 duplicates of each record in the sample, and then tabulating over of each record in the sample, and then tabulating over the pseudo-population of duplicated records.

For the LFS, the file created for tabulation purposes contains one record per person in the sample. Each record contains all labour force and demographic characteristics related to that individual. Instead of physically duplicating the sample records, an overall weighting factor is assigned to each record. The weighting factor refers to the number of times a particular record should be duplicated.

Quality evaluation

Users are required to apply the guidelines from the Sampling Variability Policy before releasing any data derived from the Survey of Union Membership.

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.


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