Staffing and Non-partisanship Survey (SNPS)

Detailed information for 2018




Every 2 years

Record number:


The Public Service Commission has redesigned the Survey of Staffing (SOS) in light of changes brought about by the implementation of the New Direction in Staffing. The Staffing and Non-Partisanship Survey (SNPS) will be conducted every two years and targets all departments and agencies under the Public Service Employment Act (PSEA) - including those with less than 350 employees.

The SNPS gathers information from a broader range of audiences - employees, hiring managers and staffing advisors - on key aspects of the staffing system (e.g., merit). 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 - September 26, 2018


The SNPS is an important tool for understanding public servants' perceptions of the 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 better target efforts to safeguard non-partisanship within the federal public service.

The survey will provide vital information to managers, human resources advisors and Deputies to improve staffing within their own organizations, and to the Public Service Commission (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

Collection 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 Forces who have civilian staff reporting to them who are employed under the PSEA.

Instrument design

The SNPS questionnaire was developed in coordination with the survey sponsor, the Public Service Commission. The content was simplified from previous versions of the Survey of Staffing (SOS) and covers three main themes: organizational staffing practices, staffing policies, and political non-partisanship of the federal public service.

Focus group testing was used to test the survey content. A total of six focus groups (3 in English and 3 in French) took place in Ottawa. They were conducted with groups of managers, staffing advisors, and employees. Participants were asked to complete paper copies of the questionnaire followed by a discussion of the survey.


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

The survey frame was made up of all in-scope employees that were on the October 2017 Public Services and Procurement Canada's Incumbent file and employee lists provided by in-scope organizations that do not appear on the Incumbent file. Since the contact information (e-mail) is not available on the Incumbent file, it had to be collected by Statistics Canada from the departments through Article 13 of the Statistics Act. The sampling unit is the employee.

Data sources

Data collection for this reference period: 2018-02-22 to 2018-04-20

Responding to this survey is voluntary.

Data are collected directly from survey respondents.

Each person in the sample is contacted by e-mail and invited to complete an electronic questionnaire available on the Statistics Canada website.

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

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

Error detection

All questionnaires received were processed the same way. The data were processed by applying edit rules to identify missing, invalid or inconsistent data. Each question was examined to verify the presence of a valid value. If none was present then a "Not stated" response code of "9" was assigned. Edit rules were also applied to examine the flow of data from Question xx to Question xy. Depending on the response to Question xx, superfluous data that did not respect the flow of data were eliminated and coded as "6", a "Valid Skip".


This methodology type does not apply to this statistical program.


Weighting factors for SNPS were calculated so that the respondents and population for each department or agency have the same overall distribution with respect to occupational groups. For example, if 20% of the employees in a department or agency are in a particular occupational group, then the weights would ensure that when tabulating the data, respondents in this occupational group would represent 20% of the number of employees for that department.

Put another way, the weighting factor compensates for the over- and under-representation of occupational groups within each federal department or agency. For over-represented groups in departments/agencies, the weights were set to one, so that each respondent only represents themselves. For under-represented groups in departments/agencies, the weights were calculated to be greater than one, so that each respondent represents, besides him or herself, other persons who did not respond. For example, a respondent with a weight of 2 would represent 2 persons in the population.

The weighting procedure calculates this factor for each record. This weight must be used to derive estimates from the microdata file. For example, if the number of employees who agree "To a great extent" with the statement "I am aware of my rights and obligations for engaging in political activities" is to be calculated, it is done by selecting the records for those respondents (ALL_Q15A = 4) and summing the weights.

Non-response adjustments were also applied to the weights in order to reduce non-response bias. They were calculated separately for each department or agency.

Share weights were produced along with Master weights (which include all respondents). The share file contains only those respondents who agreed to share their survey information with the Public Service Commission. These share weights are calculated by rerunning the weighting procedure with only this subset of respondents, typically resulting in a slightly higher weight per record than the Master weight.

Quality evaluation

While rigorous quality assurance mechanisms are applied across all steps of the statistical process, validation and scrutiny of the data by statisticians are the ultimate quality checks prior to dissemination. Two validation measures were implemented. They include: 1) analysis of changes over time and 2) verification of estimates through cross-tabulations.

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.

Revisions and seasonal adjustment

This methodology type does not apply to this statistical program.

Data accuracy

The Staffing and Non-Partisanship Survey is a census and therefore, there is no error due to sampling. However, the survey is subject to non-sampling errors such as non-response or other non-sampling errors that may occur at almost every phase of a survey operation. Respondents may make errors in answering questions, the answers may be incorrectly entered and errors may be introduced in the processing and tabulation of the data.

Quality assurance and control methods were implemented according to Statistics Canada's standard practices at each step of the data collection and processing cycle to monitor the quality of the data. These measures included focus group testing to detect problems of questionnaire design or misunderstanding of instructions, and using edit rules designed to detect missing, invalid or inconsistent data.

Total non-response can be a major source of non-sampling error in many surveys, depending on the degree to which respondents and non-respondents differ with respect to the characteristics of interest. Total non-response occurred when an eligible employee did not participate in the survey or returned a completely blank questionnaire. The overall response rate for the 2018 Staffing and Non-Partisanship Survey was 47.6%.


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