The majority (80%) of Canadians, or 21.7 million people, used the Internet for personal reasons in 2009, up from 73 percent in 2007, according to a new survey by Statistics Canada.
Rates of Internet use increased in every province during this two-year period. The largest relative increase in Internet users occurred in New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador (+15% each over 2007). Rates were highest at 85% in both British Columbia and Alberta, followed by 81% in Ontario.
Most Canadian (96%) Internet users reported going online from home during 2009, while 42 percent said they used it from work, 21 percent from schools and 15 percent from libraries.
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Among those who used the Internet from home, 75% went online every day during a typical month, up from 68% in 2007. In 2009, 55% were online for five hours or more during a typical week, up from 49% in 2007.
Among people who accessed the Internet from home in 2009, 92% did so with a high-speed connection, up from 88% two years earlier.
The majority (94%) of home users living in communities with a population of 10,000 or more accessed the Internet through a high-speed connection. This compares with 84% of those living in communities with less than 10,000 people.
Email remained the most common online activity from home in 2009, according to Statistics Canada. Searching for health information online was reported by 70% of home users, up from 59% in 2007.
Half (50%) of home users reported ordering goods or services over the Internet and 67 percent went online for electronic banking or bill payment.
Nearly a third (31%) of Internet users reported downloading or watching TV or movies, while 27 percent reported contributing content by writing blogs, posting photos or joining discussion groups.
Canadians who had used the Internet for five years or more were less likely to be concerned about online security than those with fewer years of online activity.
Among those who reported using the Internet for less than five years, 55 percent were very concerned about online credit card use and 50 percent about banking over the Internet. These figures dropped to 42 percent and 37 percent, respectively for those reporting five years or more of Internet use.
By 2009, 65 percent of all Canadians reported using the Internet for five or more years, up from 54 percent in 2007. Also, people who had used the Internet longer reported a wider range of online activities.