ARCHIVED Annual Report 2007-2008

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Business Volume in Public Opinion Research in the Government of Canada

Total Projects Coordinated by the Public Opinion Research Directorate

The amount reported is for contracts and amendments issued during each fiscal year. Individual projects may be carried out over more than one fiscal year. Figures for previous years may vary slightly from those in previous annual reports.

In 2007-2008, 446 public opinion research projects worth $24.8 million were coordinated through the Public Opinion Research Directorate. This is down from $31.4 million the previous year.

Most Active Departments and Agencies

This table provides an overview of the 10 most active departments and agencies in public opinion research in the Government of Canada during the 2007-2008 fiscal year. The table presents a list of the 10 institutions along with the total contract value and number of projects conducted by each institution during the fiscal year. The data is in ascending order starting with highest total contract value.
Department/Agency Contract Value
(Thousands of Dollars)1
Number of Projects
Health Canada2 $4,799 67
Human Resources and Social Development Canada3 $3,318 47
Canada Revenue Agency $1,968 29
National Defence $1,299 18
Natural Resources Canada $1,157 23
Environment Canada4 $986 27
Parks Canada $892 27
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada $853 14
Citizenship and Immigration Canada $753 12
Canadian Heritage $750 12


  • 1 Includes projects undertaken under task authorization contracts in the 2007-2008 fiscal year. (Return to note 1)
  • 2 Includes the Public Health Agency of Canada. (Return to note 2)
  • 3 Human Resources and Social Development Canada was created on February 6, 2006, through the consolidation of the former Department of Human Resources and Skills Development and the Department of Social Development. Its POR contracts in 2007-2008 were awarded under the still legal names of its two predecessor departments. (Return to note 3)
  • 4 Includes the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency. (Return to note 4)

Health-related research has predominated for several years, reflecting the fact that health care continues to be a top priority for Canadians. This trend continued in 2007-2008. Contracts awarded on behalf of Health Canada accounted for 19.4 percent of the total value of contracts and 15 percent of the total number of projects. Human Resources and Social Development Canada was the second highest with 47 POR projects valued at just over $3.3 million. Only five departments had research in excess of $1 million, compared with ten during the previous year.

Custom and Syndicated Research

Custom public opinion research is work commissioned for specific departments or agencies for the exclusive use of the government. The commissioning organization holds the intellectual property rights to reports and other materials generated by the project. It makes these products available to other federal organizations and the public through Library and Archives Canada. Parliamentarians and the media have access through the Library of Parliament. Custom research accounts for most of the POR work undertaken by the government.

Syndicated research studies are developed by suppliers who, in turn, make them available to paying subscribers in the private and public sectors. These off-the-shelf products often contain trend information on various topics. The suppliers retain copyright and sole responsibility for managing the content. Subscribers are normally prohibited from distributing the information to non-subscribing parties. As the research costs are shared among the subscribers, syndicated research is sometimes a cost-effective option for meeting a departmental research need and obtaining information on hard-to-reach populations and highly specific target groups.

In 2007-2008, 94 percent of the total value of public opinion research contracts was for custom research products; that is, 379 projects worth $23.3 million. Contracts for syndicated studies amounted to $1.4 million and involved 67 projects.

In February 2008, the government announced a freeze on the purchase of syndicated studies while it examines options to obtain more favourable purchasing arrangements.


See Appendix III: Thematic Overview of Syndicated Studies, 2007-2008 for a thematic overview of syndicated studies purchased by the Government of Canada in the reporting period.

Approaches to Custom Research

Quantitative research follows a systematic approach to collect and analyze information. The information is gathered in carefully structured ways. This includes surveys conducted by telephone, on the Internet, or face-to-face; exit interviews; mailed questionnaires; and self-completed diaries.

A quantitative approach is used when statistics are required to draw conclusions. The results from quantitative research can be generalized to the population being studied. The approach can be used to evaluate the effectiveness of a program, service, or advertising campaign, to measure customer satisfaction, to identify market segments, and to track changes in the public's attitudes, behaviour and use of products and services.

In the reporting year, 46 percent of research fell into the category of quantitative research, unchanged from 2006-2007.

Qualitative research is used to gain insight into people's intentions and perceptions. It explores their opinions on particular topics in more depth than is possible with a survey. Qualitative methodologies cannot yield data that can be generalized to the population being studied because the research is not based on the random selection of respondents. Commonly used types of qualitative research include focus groups, personal interviews and small group discussions.

Qualitative research can be used to generate new product, program or service concepts. It can examine clients' knowledge of, and experiences with, a product, program or service. For a publication or Web site, it can test clarity and comprehension of the content or format. It can also be used to pre-test concepts for an advertising campaign.

In 2007-2008, 33 percent of custom research fell into this category, up from 32 percent in the previous year.

Projects consisting of a combination of quantitative and qualitative research accounted for the remaining 21 percent of projects undertaken during the fiscal year.

Geographic Reach of Surveys, and Locations of Focus Group Studies Conducted for the Government of Canada in 2007-2008

The map, Government of Canada Public Opinion Research 2007-2008: Geographic Reach of Surveys and Locations of Focus Groups indicates the following:

  1. The areas surveyed by the Government of Canada in 2007-2008. Many telephone surveys included all area codes in Canada. Residents of all provinces and territories with landline telephone numbers were included in the samples.
  2. The number and locations of focus groups. The information is from studies undertaken in 2007-2008 for which final POR reports were available at the time of publication of this report.

Target Groups Reached

POR is conducted among a wide variety of audiences. The list below presents 75 specific target groups reached by POR studies conducted in 2007-2008.

  • Aboriginal people
  • Business people
  • Canada Student Loans Program borrowers
  • Canada Access Grant for Students from Low-income Families recipients
  • Canadian Forces members
  • Cellphone-only households
  • Chief executive officers (CEOs)
  • Chinese Canadians
  • Clients of various GC programs
  • Committee of Equal Access and Participation
  • Community members
  • Construction sector
  • Consumers
  • Consumer contact centre agents
  • Counsellors
  • Court personnel
  • Decision makers
  • Drivers
  • Educators
  • Employees
  • Employers
  • End users
  • Environmen- tally conscious individuals
  • First Nations people
  • Forest Industry
  • General Population
  • Health professionals
  • Homeowners
  • Households with children living at home
  • Human resources specialists
  • Immigrants and newcomers
  • Industry represen- tatives
  • Internet users
  • Judges
  • Lawyers
  • Low income families
  • Municipal officials
  • Non-govern- mental organizations
  • Northern Canadians
  • Nurses
  • Opinion leaders
  • Owners and/or managers of historic sites
  • Parents
  • Patients groups
  • People whose mother tongue is neither English nor French
  • People with higher education
  • People with HIV/AIDS
  • People with lower education
  • People with specific health conditions
  • Permanent residents
  • Police officers
  • Probation officers
  • Public servants
  • Restaurant sector
  • Scientists
  • Self-employed Canadians
  • Seniors
  • Single individuals
  • Smokers
  • Spouses
  • Stakeholders
  • Students
  • Taxpayers
  • Teachers
  • Travellers
  • Truck and bus drivers
  • Unemployed Canadians
  • Vehicle owners
  • Veterans
  • Visible minorities
  • Visitors of government Internet sites
  • Visitors of various events/sites
  • Wage earners
  • Women
  • Younger Canadians

Procurement Methods in Public Opinion Research

The Government of Canada uses various procurement methods to contract public opinion research. Standing offers and supply arrangements were established competitively in 2004. In 2007-2008, 77.3 percent of the total value of contracts issued ($24,760,034) were awarded through the standing offers. Another 3.8 percent ($939,031) were awarded through supply arrangements. The value of contracts for public tenders (MERX) was $2,173,343.84 or 8.8 percent of the total. Syndicated studies accounted for $1,414,462 or 5.7 percent. Specialized research services not offered through the standing offers or supply arrangements accounted for $1,078,385, or 4.4 percent of the total. These are typically low dollar value requirements below $25,000.

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