Statscan reports big jump in Internet use

Canadians are putting to rest speculation that interest in the Internet is waning; according to Statscan figures released Thursday.

In fact, Internet use across Canada took its biggest jump ever in 2000. Fifty-one per cent of 34,000 Canadians households measured by Statistics Canada reported at least one regular Web user. That’s up from 42 per cent in 1999.

All provinces recorded a rise in Internet penetration. Quebec recorded the lowest numbers, with 33 per cent of households using the Web. But it also experienced the largest growth in users from 1999, jumping seven per cent, followed by P.E.I. and Newfoundland.

Alberta had the highest rate of use at 51 per cent.

Statscan found home is where the heart is when it comes to online browsing. Roughly 40 per cent of respondents said that was their favourite place to access the Internet. The number of people who accessed the Web at work rebounded in 2000 after a 1999 decline, with 28 per cent of households reporting a member who surfed there.

In all, 6.9 million – or three out of five – households had a member who has surfed the Web at some time in their life.

But avid Internet use doesn’t necessarily Canadians are buying goods online, said Cheryl Carleton, Internet economy analyst with Toronto-based market research firm IDC Canada. “It would be a leap to say that just because (people) are spending time online that this is going to translate into dollars,” she said.

Of 1,282 Canadians recently surveyed by IDC, only one-fifth reported ever buying a good or service online, said Carleton. “We have a significant percentage of Internet shoppers . . . who have yet to make an online purchase,” she added. “And the majority have never even shopped (online).”

Although no studies have been done by IDC to find out why Canadian Web shopping shopping isn’t more common, Carleton said security concerns still dominate. “Also, they’re just isn’t a whole of interest. People don’t feel the need,” she added.

The vast majority of households used the Web for e-mail and general browsing, according to Statscan. But well over half also used it to search for health and medical-related information, 37 per cent for banking and 31 per cent to find employment.

Statscan found higher-income households are still more likely to surf the Web, although households with incomes of less than $36,000 saw a 41 per cent growth rate over 1999. Access rates were also highest in single-family homes with children under the age of 18.

Statistics Canada is online at

IDC Canada in Toronto is at