General Social Survey - Time Use (GSS)

Detailed information for 2020 (Pilot test)




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.

Data release - Data will not be released for this pilot


This survey monitors changes in time use to better understand how Canadians spend and manage their time and what contributes to their well-being and stress.

The data collected provides information to all level of governments when making funding decisions, developing priorities and identifying areas of concern for legislation, new policies and programs. Researchers and other users use this information to inform the general Canadian population about the changing nature of time use in Canada such as:
- Are we working too many hours and spending too much time commuting?
- Do we have flexible work schedules?
- Do we have enough time to play sports, participate in leisure activities or volunteer?
- Are we spending enough quality time with our children, our families and our friends?
- How has the internet and social media affected the way we spend our time?
- Are we satisfied with our lives?

Statistical activity

This record is part of the General Social Survey (GSS) program. The GSS originated in 1985. 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.


  • Time use

Data sources and methodology

Target population

The target population for the survey is non-institutionalized persons 15 years of age or older, living in the 10 provinces. For the survey, a single eligible member of each sampled household is selected. For half of the sample, the respondent will be randomly selected while for the other half of the sample a targeted respondent was selected.

Instrument design

The questionnaire design was based on results of qualitative testing done by Statistics Canada's Questionnaire Design Resource Centre (QDRC). This included a detailed report of participant feedback and interviewer observations written by QDRC staff. 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.

The frame for the survey consists of both the Dwelling Universe File (DUF) and the Building Universe File (BUF)

The sample is based on a stratified design employing probability sampling. The stratification is done at the province level and the population city centre level. Information is collected from one randomly selected household member aged 15 or older, and proxy responses are not permitted.

Sampling Unit
The Time Use Survey (TUS) uses a two-stage sampling design. The sampling unit is the household. The final stage unit is an individual within the identified household.

Data sources

Data collection for this reference period: 2020-01-07 to 2020-02-17

Responding to this survey is voluntary.

Data are collected directly from survey respondents.

Data are collected using EQ.

First contact was made by letter prior to the start of collection.

The average time to complete the survey is 15 minutes.

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


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