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Canada Pension Plan Statement of Contributions Survey

Subject Matter

Human Resources Development Canada (HRDC) wanted to conduct a survey with Canada Pension Plan (CPP) contributors who received information about their CPP contributions through the mail (such information was sent by mail to millions of Canadians). The three groups that received a Statement of Contributions (SOC) and a letter with information relevant to their life situations were as follows: 18-24 year-old cohort, 25-34 cohort, and 55-64 cohort. The purpose of this research was to evaluate the SOC mailing. In particular, the study was designed to measure recall and behaviour with respect to the information received in the mailing, assess the impact of the information on knowledge, awareness and attitudes with respect to the CPP, evaluate the usefulness of the information contained in the mailing, and determine receptiveness in terms of checking the SOC online in the future. The results were used by Income Security Programs of HRDC to support future communications efforts relative to CPP contributors.


A telephone survey was conducted with 1,218 CPP contributors that had recently received the SOC by mail. Approximately 400 interviews were conducted with each age cohort. Within each cohort, interviews were conducted proportionately by language and region (all regions of the country included). Few interviews were conducted in Quebec since few CPP contributors live in that province. Based on a sample of this size, the results can be considered to be accurate within +/- 2.9%, 19 times out of 20. Quotas were set to address different age sub-groups within two of the cohorts. Weights were applied to the aggregate data to ensure that the overall results matched the actual distribution of Canadians that received the SOC mailings. Interviewing was conducted in waves that corresponded to the timing of the mail-outs. HRDC provided electronic mailing lists for each cohort. The list did not contain phone numbers (this information is not kept for the CPP program), so a matching of names on the list with phone numbers using on-line directories was performed. The questionnaire averaged 10 minutes in length. The research was conducted using a survey because of the need for representative data. The survey was conducted by phone in order to better control for the achievement of specific quotas, match the methodology used in a previous wave of this study, complete the targeted number of interviews within a specific timeframe, and ensure that interviews were conducted in waves that corresponded to the timing of the mail-outs.

Among the challenges involved in this study were:

  • The target audience in this study was quite complex. The study involved interviewing three different cohorts of Canadians, with interviews conducted proportionately by language and region within each cohort, and quotas for different age sub-groups within two of the cohorts. To address this, a detailed sample frame was developed to guide the fieldwork, which was monitored closely through the successive waves of the fieldwork.
  • Because the mail-out took place in stages, it was important to ensure that contributors were contacted within a set timeframe corresponding to their specific mail-out. To ensure this, contributors were contacted 10-15 days after the mail was sent, with data collection for each wave conducted within a 3-4 day period. For mail-outs that took place over a considerable amount of time (the older two cohorts), fieldwork for that cohort was done in three stages (with one-third of the interviews conducted per stage). For the youngest cohort, it was conducted in one stage only.
  • The material that was mailed out was different for each cohort, and for some of the sub-groups within a cohort. This had significant implications for questionnaire design, and was addressed through multiple skip patterns and 'modules' to ensure that respondents were asked questions that corresponded to the contents of their specific mail-out. Careful attention was paid in finalizing the questionnaire, including a detailed review of the programmed CATI version, to ensure that questions were asked to the right people.

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