General Social Survey - Social Identity (SI)

Detailed information for 2020 (Cycle 35)




Every 5 years

Record number:


The two primary objectives of the General Social Survey 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 - Scheduled for December 20, 2020


The main objective of the General Social Survey on Social Identity is to provide an overall picture of Canadians' identification, attachment, belonging and pride in their social and cultural environment. The key components of the survey include the following topics: social networks, civic participation and engagement, knowledge of Canadian history, appreciation of national symbols, shared values, confidence in institutions, and trust in people. In addition, the survey also covers people's possible experiences of discrimination before and during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Statistical activity

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


  • Social networks and civic participation
  • Society and community

Data sources and methodology

Target population

The target population for the 2020 General Social Survey is all non-institutionalized persons 15 years of age or older, living in the 10 provinces of Canada.

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 four cities, representing three provinces, 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.


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

The frame of the survey is the Dwelling Universe File (DUF).

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

Data sources

Data collection for this reference period: 2020-08-17 to 2020-12-16

Responding to this survey is voluntary.

Data are collected directly from survey respondents.

Data are collected using the computer-assisted telephone interviewing method and an electronic questionnaire. First contact is made either by an invitation letter in the mail, which provides a link and access code for completing survey electronically, or by telephone. A non-responding household may receive up to three mail reminders and one SMS reminder before they are contacted by a Statistics Canada interviewer to complete the questionnaire over the telephone. No proxy reporting is allowed. The respondents have the choice between French and English. Interviews are approximately 45 minutes.

Tax derived files (CSDD environment).

By linking data, we are aiming to obtain better quality data for income (personal and household).

Questions relating to income generally show high non-response rates and the incomes that are reported by respondents are usually rough estimates. Linking data allows for more accurate information without having to ask income-related questions.

The data collected are linked to the personal tax records (T1, T1FF, or T4) of respondents and the tax records of all household members. Household information, respondent information, and information on other members of the household are key variables for the linkage.

Respondents are notified of the planned linkage before and during the survey. Any respondent who objects to the linkage of their data has their objections recorded and no linkage to their tax data takes place.

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

Error detection

Not applicable at this survey stage.


Not applicable at this survey stage.


Not applicable at this survey stage.

Quality evaluation

Not applicable at this survey stage.

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 microdata: 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 type does not apply to this survey.

Data accuracy

Not applicable at this survey stage.


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