The General Social Survey by Statistics Canada found that 13 million Canadians, or 53 percent of those aged 15 and over, used the Internet at home, at work or at some other location in the past year. This was three times the 1994 rate of 18 percent. Although 11.6 million people aged 15 and older were not using the Internet in 2000, about 27 percent of them expressed interest in doing so.
The survey also found that people who use the Internet tend to be younger, and have higher incomes and more education than those who don’t. Men in Canada use the Internet more than women. In addition, French speakers were less likely to use the Internet than English speakers, while people living in rural Canada were less likely than urban dwellers to go online.
Nine out of every 10 teenagers aged 15 to 19 reported using the Internet at some time in the 12 months prior to the survey, the highest proportion of any age group. Internet use declined steadily for each subsequent age group. About 70 percent of those aged 25 to 29 used the Internet, compared with 61 percent of those age 35 to 39, and only 13 percent of seniors aged 65 and over. This pattern has changed since 1994, when Internet use was lower among teens (12 percent), and ranged between 16 percent to 23 percent for age groups up to age 59.
Men were more likely to use the Internet than women in every age group. However, women have closed the gap substantially since 1994. About 22 percent of men used the Internet in 1994, compared with 14 percent of women. By 2000, the proportion of men surfing the net had more than doubled to 56 percent, while the proportion of women had more than tripled to 50 percent.
Individuals with university education were much more likely to use the Internet than those with less than a high school diploma. Among individuals 20 or older, 13 percent of those with less than a high school diploma used the Internet, compared with 79 percent with university education.
Internet use also increases with income. Only 30 percent of individuals in households with income less than $20,000 had used the Internet, compared with 81 percent of individuals in households with an annual income of $80,000.
The impact of income on Internet use in Canada increased with age. For example, among 15- to 24-year-olds, Internet use increased from 77 percent of those with less than $20,000 household income to 94 percent of those with household income more than $100,000. In contrast, in the age group 55 to 64, Internet use increased from 8 percent of those with less than $20,000 household income to 77 percent of those with more than $100,000 income. Internet use among seniors showed similar trends; use was lowest in low-income households and highest in households with higher incomes.
Internet use was highest in Alberta and British Columbia, at about 61 percent of the population. Between 44 percent and 48 percent used the Internet in Newfoundland, New Brunswick, Quebec, Manitoba and Prince Edward Island.
An estimated 3.1 million people, about one-quarter of all Canadians who surf the Internet, have used it to buy goods and services. About 28 percent of men and 19 percent of women who used the Internet reported they had purchased something online during the 12 months prior to the survey, even though the majority had used it only for “window shopping” — searching for information on products and services. In Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta, about 26 percent of users used it to buy something.
Just under 3 million people, 23 percent of users, used it for electronic banking, which was most common in Ontario, Nova Scotia, Alberta, Quebec and British Columbia. E-banking increased with income, from 15 percent of users with household incomes of less than $30,000 to 34 percent of those with with household incomes of $80,000 or more.
E-banking and online purchasing were most common among adults in their late 20s and 30s. About 31 percent of Internet users aged 30 to 39 used the Internet for e-banking, a higher percentage than younger or older age groups. Similarly, 28 percent of Internet users aged 25 to 39 used the Internet to purchase goods and services, also higher than other age groups. E-banking and online purchasing were least common among users aged 15 to 24 (11 percent and 17 percent, respectively).
About 84 percent of Internet users connect to email, and many use it daily. Just over 4 million email users, about 39 percent of the total, reported that they used email every day in the past month, and another 25 percent said they used it at least several times a week.
Internet users who were born outside Canada were somewhat more likely to use email every day than those born in Canada. About 44 percent of those born outside Canada used it daily, compared with 38 percent of people born in Canada.
After email, the next most popular use was to access a news site; 55 percent of users reported doing so. Men were more likely to surf for news than women. Teens were less likely to access a news site than were all other age groups. Women, however, were more likely than men to search for health and medical information – 52 percent compared with 41 percent. About 40 percent of Internet users, or 5.3 million individuals, said they had accessed information on government programs on the Internet.
As Canadians spend more time on the Internet, they devote less time to other activities. More than one-quarter of users reported that because of their Internet use they watched less television, and 15 percent spent less time reading books, magazines and newspapers. About 10 percent reported that they devoted less time to sleeping, leisure activities and household chores.