Survey on Family Transitions (SFT)

Detailed information for 2024




Every 5 years

Record number:


The General Social Statistics Program (GSSP) has two main objectives: a) to collect data on social trends in order to monitor changes in the living conditions and well-being of Canadians over time, and b) to provide updated information on specific social policy issues of current or emerging interest.

Data release - To be determined


The Survey on Family Transitions (SFT) explores the experiences of families in Canada through time by examining how individuals and families change during various stages of life - from childhood to adulthood to retirement.

Survey results will be used to develop programs and policies aimed at improving the well-being of children and families, such as parental leave, childcare services and pay equity. The results will also be used to help enhance and complement information on families from the census, and to compare families in Canada with those of other countries.

Statistical activity

This record is part of the General Social Survey (GSS) program and originated in 1985. Since 2022, the GSS is referred to as the General Social Statistics Program (GSSP) to better reflect that data is integrated from administrative data, statistical modelling and alternative data collection approaches, in addition to a detailed survey on a given topic. The GSSP is comprised of surveys on core topics, using focus or exploratory questions and a standard set of socio-demographic questions used for classification. More recent surveys have also included some qualitative questions, which explore intentions and perceptions.


  • Families, households and housing
  • Immigration and ethnocultural diversity (formerly Ethnic diversity and immigration)

Data sources and methodology

Target population

The target population for the SFT is all persons between the age of 20 and 79 years old, living in private dwellings in the 10 provinces of Canada.

Excluded from the survey's coverage:
- residents of Yukon, the Northwest Territories, and Nunavut,
- full-time residents of institutions and other collective dwellings,
- residents of reserves and other Indigenous settlements.

Instrument design

The questionnaire was designed based on research and extensive consultations with key partners and data users. Qualitative testing of the survey questions, conducted by Statistics Canada's Questionnaire Design Resource Center (QDRC), was carried out, with respondents 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 when possible. In addition, the EQ application underwent extensive qualitative testing by the Centre of Expertise in Accessibility (CEA). Recommendations from CEA were implemented into the final version of the application.


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

The sample consists of a random sample of units selected from the 2021 Census of Population (short-form questionnaire) along with the Longitudinal Immigration Database (IMDB) and the landing records received from Immigration, Refugees, Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to target specifically recent immigrants.

Sampling Unit

This is a targeted respondent survey. The sampling unit is the person.

Stratification method

Strata were defined to achieve sufficient sample sizes in each domain of estimation and optimize sample allocation. The frame for the SFT was stratified by province (Atlantic provinces regrouped) and certain characteristics of the immigrant population. The domains of estimation consist of the provinces in addition to immigration groups, by admission category (economic immigrants, immigrants sponsored by family, and refugees/other immigrants), and admission period (less than 5 years ago, between 5 to 10 years ago, at least 10 years ago).

Sampling and sub-sampling

Within each stratum, a sample was drawn using systematic sampling, after sorting the frame by dwelling identifier, to reduce the possibility of sampling more than one person per household.

Through a new program called the Disaggregated Data Action Plan (DDAP), Statistics Canada is producing detailed data to address gender gaps, racism and other systemic barriers, to apply fairness and inclusion to decisions that affect all people in Canada.

With DDAP funding, the SFT has increased its sample size and oversampled immigrants in order to produce more detailed disaggregated data on the immigrant population and to best represent the immigrant population.

The total sample size for the SFT is approximately 51,000 individuals. A completion of approximately 17,100 questionnaires is expected.

Data sources

Data collection for this reference period: 2024-04-22 to 2024-09-20

Responding to this survey is voluntary.

Data were collected directly from survey respondents either through an online questionnaire or through CATI (computer-assisted telephone interviewing). First contact is made by an introduction letter in the mail. Targeted respondents may receive e-mail invitations or a telephone call from a Statistics Canada interviewer to complete the survey. No proxy reporting is allowed. Respondents have the choice to complete their questionnaire in French or English. The average time to complete the survey is estimated at 30 minutes.

Questions relating to income show rather high non-response rates, the incomes reported by respondents are usually rough estimates. Linking allows getting such information without having to ask questions. The aim of record linkage is to obtain higher quality data.

The information collected during the 2024 SFT is planned to be linked with personal and household level tax record files (T1, T1FF and T4) and with the IMDB for completed cases. The linkage falls under the omnibus record authority (Type B) as the linkage will be used for data replacement.

Respondents will be notified of the planned linkage before and at the exit of the survey. Any respondents who object to the linkage of their data will have their objections recorded, and no linkage to their administrative data will take place.

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

Error detection

The metadata will be provided upon release.


The metadata will be provided upon release.


The metadata will be provided upon release.

Quality evaluation

The metadata will be provided upon release.

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 program.

Data accuracy

The metadata will be provided upon release.


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