Staffing and Non-partisanship Survey (SNPS)

Detailed information for 2021




Every 2 years

Record number:


The 2021 Staffing and Non-partisanship Survey (SNPS) is the second cycle of this survey, which is conducted every two years for the Public Service Commission of Canada. The survey targets all departments and agencies under the Public Service Employment Act (PSEA), with no minimum number of employees required.

The SNPS gathers information from employees, managers or supervisors and staffing advisors, on key aspects of the staffing system (e.g., merit), including the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. As in previous years, the survey also gathers critical information on employees' understanding of their rights and responsibilities regarding political activities and non-partisanship.

Data release - March 1, 2022


The SNPS is an important tool for understanding public servants' perceptions of the federal public service staffing system as well as their awareness of their legal rights and responsibilities regarding political activities.

The information gathered in the survey will be used to identify current and emerging trends at government-wide and organizational levels, to inform potential improvements to staffing policies and practices, and to better target efforts to safeguard non-partisanship within the federal public service.

The survey will provide essential information to managers, human resources advisors and Deputy Ministers to improve staffing within their own organizations, and to the Public Service Commission of Canada (PSC) on the staffing system as a whole. The information will also be used to support reporting to Parliament via the PSC's Annual Report.

Reference period: Varies


  • Government

Data sources and methodology

Target population

The SNPS targets public service employees who are working in federal departments and agencies which fall under the Public Service Employment Act (PSEA). The SNPS also targets members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Canadian Armed Forces who have civilian direct reports employed under the PSEA.

Instrument design

The SNPS questionnaire was developed in coordination with the survey sponsor, the Public Service Commission of Canada. The content covers two main themes: organizational staffing practices and policies, and political non-partisanship of the federal public service.

Individual cognitive interviews conducted by the Questionnaire Design Resource Centre of Statistics Canada were used to test the survey content. A total of 24 virtual interviews (12 in English and 12 in French) were completed. They were conducted with supervisors and managers, staffing advisors, and employees from several organizations. Participants were asked to go through the questionnaire on a computer screen and to comment and discuss their impressions of the questionnaire.


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

The sampling unit is the employee.

The survey frame is made up of all in-scope employees who were on the November 2020 Public Services and Procurement Canada's Incumbent file and all members of the Canadian Armed Forces and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police who had at least one civil employee reporting to them.

Since the contact information (e-mail address) of federal employees is not available on the Incumbent file, the Public Service Commission of Canada contacted the 76 federal departments and agencies in-scope for the survey to request a current list of their employees with email, which enabled Statistics Canada to assemble the survey frame.

Data sources

Data collection for this reference period: 2021-03-16 to 2021-05-14

Responding to this survey is voluntary.

Data are collected directly from survey respondents.

Each person in the survey frame is contacted by e-mail and invited to complete an electronic questionnaire available on the Statistics Canada website. Under some conditions, some employees who do not have an email at work will be invited to participate in the survey by using an Anonymous portal.

During collection, reminder e-mails will be sent on a regular basis to participants who have not submitted their completed electronic questionnaire.

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

Error detection

Several consistency edits were carried out on the SNPS data file. These edits were primarily to ensure consistency between occupational groups and levels and organizations and between the age of the respondent and the years working in their organization, work unit, or as a staffing advisor or manager.


This methodology type does not apply to this statistical program.


When there are people who were invited to participate in the survey but did not respond, the principle behind estimation is that each respondent represents (in addition to himself/herself) the other people not responding. For example, if we obtain a 50% response rate, each person in the sample represents two people. The number of persons represented by a given respondent is usually known as the weight or weighting factor.

SNPS is a survey of individuals and the analytic files contain questionnaire responses and associated information from the respondents.

A weighting factor is available on the microdata file and is called WTPM. This is the basic weighting factor for analysis at the employee level, i.e. to calculate estimates of the number of employees having one or several given characteristics.

In addition to the estimation weights, bootstrap weights have been created for the purpose of design-based variance estimation.

Quality evaluation

Rigorous quality assurance mechanisms are applied at all stages of the statistical process, including questionnaire design, data collection and data processing.

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.

Revisions and seasonal adjustment

This methodology type does not apply to this statistical program.

Data accuracy

Estimates of the sampling variability of estimates can be produced with the bootstrap method using bootstrap weights that have been created for this survey. The bootstrap method was used to estimate the sampling variability for all of the estimates.

The sample error is quantified by the coefficient of variation (CV) with the following guidelines:
- 16.5% and below: Acceptable estimate;
- 16.6% to 33.3%: Marginal estimate, with cautionary note;
- Above 33.3%: Unacceptable estimate.

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