Official Languages Demand for Services Survey (OLDSS)

Detailed information for 2014-2019





Record number:


The purpose of this survey is to determine the official language preference of the clients of various government departments. The data will allow the department to decide if they need to provide services to clients in the minority language according to the rules of the Official Languages Act.

Data release - There is no official release in The Daily as this is done for administrative purposes.


The objective of the survey is to determine for each office to be evaluated if the demand for service in the official language of the minority (English in Québec, French in other provinces) is equal or greater than 5%. The results of the survey are then used to determine if the office evaluated must provide service in both official languages or only in the language of the majority. Each department must provide the results of the evaluation to the Treasury Board Secretariat who will post the demand for each office on their web site. According to the Official Languages Act, every federal institution must evaluate every 10 years the linguistic designation of the offices providing service to the public based on the demand of clients. If 5% or more of the clients in an office indicate that they prefer to be served in the minority language, the office must be designated as bilingual. The survey has been conducted for approximately 15 departments since 2004.Treasury Board Secretariat is responsible for the implementation of the Act, and selects the offices that need to be evaluated for each department. In most cases, the Census of Population provides the appropriate information.In some cases however, a special evaluation must be done.

Reference period: The reference period varies for each office depending on the type of service provided, volume of contacts, and expected demand. The period varies from one week to one year.

Collection period: The collection period varies for each office depending on the type of service provided, volume of contacts, and expected demand. The period varies between one week and five months.


  • Languages
  • Use of languages

Data sources and methodology

Target population

For each government office assessed by this survey, the target population is all requests for, and instances of, service to public users (clients) during a one-year period. The survey population is all dealings with these clients during the survey reference period. Excluded from this survey are federal public servants contacting the office on official government business.

Instrument design

The questionnaire contains only one question asking for the preferred language when receiving service from the government office. The same question is used for all departments and did not need to be tested as it had not changed significantly since the last iteration of this survey.


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

Statistics Canada assigns a reference period to each government office participating in this survey. During this reference period, the contact information of all clients is recorded in order for Statistics Canada to administer the survey at a later time.

Data sources

Data collection for this reference period: 2016-11-15 to 2016-12-22

Responding to this survey is voluntary.

Data are collected directly from survey respondents.

Data are collected using three collection methods. The primary method is an electronic questionnaire. Invitations containing a link to the survey are emailed to the clients as well as three reminders. Non-response follow-up to the electronic questionnaire is conducted via computer assisted telephone interviews. For those offices that are unable to provide Statistics Canada with their client's contact information, clients are given a questionnaire at the time of contact. Completed questionnaires are placed in a drop-box located in the office or are returned by mail to Statistics Canada. It should be noted that this method of collection using questionnaire cards does not fall under the Statistics Act as most completed cards are left in the drop-boxes in the government offices. As such, Statistics Canada cannot guarantee the confidentiality of these responses.

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

Disclosure control

Statistics Canada is prohibited by law from releasing any data which would divulge information obtained under the Statistics Act that relates to any identifiable person, business or organization without the prior knowledge or the consent in writing of that person, business or organization. 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.

Since only percentages are being released for each office and the survey is done anonymously, confidentiality is not a concern, therefore, no special measure is necessary.

Date modified: