Survey on Health Care Workers' Experiences During the Pandemic (SHCWEP)

Detailed information for 2020 to 2021





Record number:


The purpose of this survey is to understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on health care workers in Canada.

Data release - June 3, 2022


This voluntary survey covers topics such as job type and setting, personal protective equipment (PPE) and infection prevention and control (IPC) practices and protocols, COVID-19 vaccination and diagnosis, and the impacts of the pandemic on personal health and work life. It also includes general demographic questions.

Information collected may be used by the Public Health Agency of Canada, Health Canada, the Canadian Institute for Health Information and other government organizations to help to inform health care workforce planning, the delivery of health care services and to better understand what health care workers need in terms of equipment, training and support.

Reference period: 2020 to 2021

Collection period: September to November 2021


  • Health
  • Health care services
  • Labour
  • Mental health and well-being
  • Workplace organization, innovation, performance

Data sources and methodology

Target population

The target population of the SHCWEP is health care workers and those working in a health care setting since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic who are living in the ten provinces. This includes people who provide health care services directly to individuals, technical support to medical staff (e.g., laboratory technician), or coordinate or supervise activities in a health care setting, and emergency medical personnel such as firefighters or paramedics.

The observed population includes people working in the covered occupations as of May, 2016 as well as people following courses of study from 2015-2018 that were likely to lead to work in the covered occupations. Any person working as a health care worker during the pandemic not covered by these two groups is outside the observed population.

Instrument design

The content for the Survey on Health Care Workers' Experiences During the Pandemic electronic questionnaire was drafted in consultation with the Public Health Agency of Canada, Health Canada and the Canadian Institute for Health Information.

The questionnaire underwent cognitive testing in the form of focus groups and in-depth interviews in both of Canada's official languages, conducted by Statistics Canada's Questionnaire Design Resource Centre. The goal of the qualitative study was to test the survey content.

The questionnaire follows standard practices and wording used in a computer-assisted interviewing environment, such as the automatic control of flows that depend upon answers to earlier questions and the use of edits to check for logical inconsistencies and capture errors. The computer application for data collection was tested extensively.


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

This survey has a stratified sample and cross-sectional design. The size of the sample is sufficient to achieve specific precision targets in strata, based on assumptions pertaining to data collection. Strata are defined by province and classification according to the National Occupation Classification (NOC) 2016 or the Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) 2016. The sample is allocated to the survey strata and a simple random sample of persons is selected independently within each stratum.

Sampling unit:
The SHCWEP sample has a one-stage design and the person is the sampling unit.

Stratification method:
The frame is stratified by province and by Health Care Worker Occupation Group, a concept derived based on the National Occupation Classification (NOC) 2016 or the Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) 2016, depending on availability of information. A simple random sample of health care workers is selected independently within each stratum.

Sampling and sub-sampling:
The SHCWEP sample has a one-stage design. People aged 18 years or older were randomly selected among Census 2016 long form respondents who either identified as a health care worker at the time of Census (based on NOC 2016) or who were registered in a health care education program (based on CIP 2016) between 2015 and 2018, according to the Postsecondary Student Information System (PSIS).

Minimum stratum sample sizes were determined to ensure certain estimates would have acceptable sampling variability at the stratum level, based on assumptions made regarding the survey data collection. The sample size of 32,500 units was allocated according to these stratum sample sizes, except where the stratum population size was too small to support the allocation, in which case stratum censuses were drawn. This overall sample is representative of all health care workers (HCW) in the ten provinces who were health care workers at the time of Census 2016, or who, in recent years, were registered in education programs likely to yield health care workers.

Data sources

Data collection for this reference period: 2021-09-02 to 2021-11-12

Responding to this survey is voluntary.

Data are collected directly from survey respondents.

Data are collected directly from survey respondents either through an electronic questionnaire (EQ) or through CATI (computer assisted telephone interviewing).

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

Error detection

Most editing of the data was performed at the time of collection by the collection application. It was not possible for respondents to enter out-of-range values and flow errors were avoided through programmed skip patterns. For example, the questionnaire ensured that questions that did not apply to the respondent were not asked.

In response to some types of inconsistent or unusual reporting, warning messages were invoked but no corrective action was taken at the time of the collection. Where appropriate, edits were instead developed to be performed after data collection at Head Office. Inconsistencies were usually corrected by setting one or both of the variables in question to "not stated".


This methodology type does not apply to this statistical program.


In order for estimates produced from survey data to be representative of the covered population and not just the sample itself, users must incorporate the survey weights in their calculations. A survey weight is given to each respondent included in the final sample. This weight corresponds to the number of persons in the entire observed population that are represented by the respondent.

As described above, the SHCWEP uses a frame based on Census 2016 long form respondents for its sample selection. From this frame, initial weights are calculated for each sampled person. These weights undergo several adjustments, including for non-response and Winsorization, to create the final weights.

The sample design used for this survey was not self-weighting. That is to say, the sampling weights are not identical for all individuals in the sample. When producing simple estimates, including the production of ordinary statistical tables, users must apply the proper sampling weight.

Proportions and ratios are obtained by summing the final weights of records having the characteristic of the numerator and the denominator, and then dividing the first estimate by the second.

Bootstrap weights are created through resampling the original sample by applying similar adjustments to the bootstrap weights as to the sample weights. Bootstrap weights are used to evaluate the quality of survey estimates.

More details on the weighting steps can be found in chapter 7 of the SHCWEP User Guide.

Quality evaluation

Throughout the collection process, control and monitoring measures were put in place and corrective action was taken to minimize non-sampling errors. These measures included response rate evaluation, reported and non-reported data evaluation, observation of interviews, improved collection tools for interviewers and others.

After the SHCWEP data were compiled, the data were reviewed in terms of the accuracy, coherence and overall reasonableness. A variety of summary indicators were calculated from the data and were reviewed for reasonableness.

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

Survey errors come from a variety of different sources. One dimension of survey error is sampling error. Sampling error is defined as the error that arises because an estimate is based on a sample rather than the entire population.

Sampling error can be expressed through a confidence interval or coefficient of variation. The coefficient of variation (CV), is produced using bootstrap weights. The CV magnitude will depend on the domain of interest and the prevalence of the characteristic.

Survey documentation is included with the microdata that instructs data users on the steps to define the confidence interval for population estimates.

Response rate:
In total, 22,293 of the selected units in the SHCWEP were estimated to be in-scope for the survey, out of which a response was obtained for 12,246 individuals, resulting in a response rate of 54.9%.

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