Data sources, methods and definitions

Data sources

This article is based on cycle 26 of the General Social Survey (GSS) on Caregiving and Care Receiving. The purpose of this survey was to provide estimates on delivering and obtaining care in Canada, the characteristics of care receivers and caregivers, and the consequences of caregiving on the caregiver (specifically consequences on physical and emotional health, consequences on education, and consequences on employment). The target population included all persons aged 15 and over living in the 10 provinces of Canada except full-time residents of institutions (for example, hospitals and prisons). Once a household had been selected, one person aged 15 and over was randomly selected to participate in the survey. In 2012, the sample size was 23,093 respondents.


In this study, the population was limited to the 6,640 persons aged 15 and over who were providing help or care to a person aged 65 and over with a chronic health condition, a disability, or problems related to aging. According to this definition, about 5.4 million caregivers provided care to seniors in 2012.

This article examines the characteristics of the caregiver’s primary care receiver, for example, the care receiver’s type of housing. The information on care receivers was collected from the caregiver. To identify the type of housing of the senior to whom the care was provided, respondents were asked whether their care receiver was living

  1. in a private household;
  2. in supportive housing;
  3. in an institution or care facility (such as a hospital or nursing home); or
  4. in some other type of housing.

Respondents wanting clarifications on the response options were told that “supportive housing offers minimal to moderate care, such as homemaking or personal care, so people can live independently.”

If the primary care receiver lived in a private household, another question in the survey was used to determine whether the care receiver and caregiver lived in the same household.

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