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The preliminary interview is comprised of three main modules:

Work experience – data on both part- and full-time work;

Family and personal history – marital history, birth history, mother tongue, place of birth, ethnic origin;

Educational attainment – certificates and degrees, years of schooling and parents' level of education. Although the EP questions are part of the preliminary interview, they are asked within the education module of the labour interview.

The labour and income interview is comprised of eight main modules:

Dates – Employer start and end dates are collected for up to six employers during the year. This module has an employer roster (a list of all employers the person worked for during the year), and a ghost employer roster (a list of former employers reported in previous interviews). Feeding back of employer names from the previous January also occurs in this module. For a person on unpaid absence at the beginning of last January, the absence as well as the employer name is fed back.

Regarding "don't know" responses in employer dates: To collect information on an employer, the interviewer must be able to establish the date the person started working for that employer. If the interviewer is able to establish the month the job began, but not the day, the computer will set the day to 01 and the employer will be accepted. Similarly, if the interviewer can establish the month the job ended, but not the day, the computer will set the day to 28. However, if the interviewer cannot get an estimate of the month in which the job started or ended, it is impossible to proceed with that employer, and it is deleted from the roster. If the respondent reports no employers during the past year, the respondent skips to SE.

The following classification of jobs is used in DA:

Job type 1 – a job at which the respondent was working on December 31st of the previous reference year.

Job type 2 – a job at which the respondent was not working on December 31st of the previous reference year but to which he/she was attached (i.e. on temporary lay-off or away on an absence of more than a week).

Job type 3 – a job not previously identified in the survey, generally one at which the respondent started working during the reference year.

Jobless spells are derived from the dates of employment.

Employment with each employer is characterized as ended or un-ended, referring to whether the respondent was working for the employer at the end of the reference year. If a job type 1 is denied, the job is deleted without an array of probing questions. For job type 2, one probing question is asked if the job is denied.

Characteristics – This will be collected for up to six employers per respondent. For job type 1 and 2, information on employer name, and type of work performed is fed back to the respondent. A change in occupation and wages can be recorded, as can one change in work schedule for job types 1 and 2. This allows greater precision in deriving implicit hourly wage rates or total annual earnings from an employer (total annual earnings from all employers will also be collected in May in the income interview). The number of absences of one week or more (except paid vacation), and details on the first and last absences with each employer are also recorded.

Search – If there was a jobless spell identified in 'DA' or if the respondent did not work at any time in the year, the flow will be directed to this module. For each jobless spell, there are a series of questions on job search, and the desire for employment. For people who begin the year with a jobless spell, the search status in January is fed back to the respondent only if they were looking for work.

Compensation – This module asks questions regarding receipt of Employment Insurance, Social Assistance, or Workers' Compensation and the months in which it was received during the reference year. This information is collected for everyone, independently of any reported job absences and jobless spells.

Spend – This module requests information on support payments, both paid and received and on child care expenses. Also, questions on inter-household transfer payments (both monetary and non-monetary) were asked for the first time in reference year 2006.

Education – This module on formal education includes educational activity during the year, and degrees, certificates or diplomas obtained. If respondents attended more than one type of educational institution, several flows will result providing information also on field of study, program length, and time attended (months, weeks, hours). By asking question ED_Q150 about other degrees, certificates or diplomas received during the reference year, this identifies situations where a respondent received a degree in the reference year although the program finished the previous year. Questions are asked to identify whether respondents have ever received a student loan and, if so, how much was borrowed and how much is still owed. The education module also contains a few questions on the most important work-related course taken by the respondent.

Disability – This module contains questions concerning disability which are asked of all respondents. The basic structure of the questions concern disability at home, at work and in other activities, but a distinction is made in the questions asked for those who worked versus those who didn't work in the reference year. No questions are asked about disability at work for respondents aged 70+.

Income – This module asks for the amounts of income received from various sources. Everyone age 16 and over receive these questions unless they give Statistics Canada permission to access their Canada Revenue Agency tax records. Edits are programmed using the information collected in the labour portion of the survey to remind respondents that they had reported being employed or receiving employment insurance, social assistance or workers' compensation, to ensure that the amounts are entered. Flags are also set during the labour interview so that amounts are collected where applicable for: employer pension plan contributions; professional membership dues or malpractice insurance premium payments; and union dues.

The major components of the preliminary, labour and income modules are listed below.

Preliminary modules
  • When started working full time
  • Any years did not work
  • Ever worked part time
  • Dates of marriage, divorce, separation, living common-law
  • Number of children gave birth to or fathered and year first child born
  • Adopted or raised any other children
  • Mother tongue, country of birth, ethnic origin
  • Immigrant status, Treaty or Registered Indian status
  • Years of elementary and high school completed
  • Certificates and degrees received prior to the reference year
  • Highest level of education of parents
Labour and income modules
  • Job tenure
  • Reasons for leaving job
  • General job characteristics
  • Supervisory/managerial responsibilities
  • Work schedule
  • Wages & fringe benefits
  • Absences from work for one or more weeks
  • Jobless spells
  • Job search activities
  • Receipt of employment insurance
  • Receipt of Workers' Compensation
  • Receipt of Social assistance or welfare
  • Receipt of support payments
  • Payment of support
  • Payments for child care
  • Inter-household transfer payments
  • Type of educational establishment
  • Months/hours attended school
  • Information on any diplomas, certificates or degrees earned
  • Student loans; amount borrowed and amount owed
  • Information on the most important work-related course taken
  • Identifies disabilities/activity limitations
  • Impact of condition on amount and/or the ability to work
  • Request permission to access income tax records
  • Amounts of income from various sources
  • Amount of employer pension plan contributions
  • Amount paid for professional membership dues or malpractice premiums
  • Amount paid in union dues

The general flow of the preliminary, labour and income interview is given in the flowchart on the next page.

An initial divergence based on age can be seen. Those aged 16-69 are asked the labour series of questions, while those 70 years and over flow to DA_Q001 (main activity) and then to the Disability (DI) module. For the former, if the respondent worked since the last interview, the characteristics of up to six jobs are asked, followed by identification of jobless spells. If a jobless spell occurred, the respondent is asked the Search (SE) series of questions. These are also asked for respondents who have not worked since the last labour interview. The Compensation (CO) questions are then asked of all respondents, as are subsequent modules on Spend (SP), Education (ED) and Disability (DI). Income (IN) questions are only asked if the respondent does not give Statistics Canada permission to access their Canada Revenue Agency tax files.