Individual Internet use and E-commerce

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In 2010, 80% of individuals aged 16 years and older used the Internet for personal use. Significant differences in use rates exist based on age, income, location and other factors.

Residents of British Columbia (86%) and Alberta (84%) reported the highest use rates. Rates were lowest in Newfoundland and Labrador (73%) and New Brunswick (70%).

Among individuals living in census metropolitan areas (CMA) or census agglomerations, 82% used the Internet, compared with 72% of those living outside of these areas. CMAs with the highest rates of use included Calgary, Saskatoon, Barrie, Ottawa–Gatineau, and Halifax (all at 88%), as well as Vancouver and Victoria (both at 87%).

Note to readers

The 2010 Canadian Internet Use Survey was conducted in October and November as a supplement to the Labour Force Survey.

The survey was redesigned for 2010 to meet the measurement needs of the Broadband Canada: Connecting Rural Canadians Program, sponsored by Industry Canada.

The survey now consists of a household component, which measures home access, and an individual component, which measures online behaviours. To keep abreast of changing technologies and online activities, questions were modified and new content developed as part of the redesign with Industry Canada. For these reasons, results from the 2010 survey cannot be directly compared with those of past surveys.

This release features individual Internet use and e-commerce, based on a sample of approximately 22,600 individuals aged 16 years and older. Results from the household component were released in The Daily on May 25, 2011.


The Internet use rate is the proportion of individuals who used the Internet for personal use during the last 12 months, from any location. Business-related use is excluded.

An online shopper is someone who ordered at least one product on the Internet for personal or household use, with or without online payment.

An Internet window shopper is someone who went online to browse for information on goods or services, without necessarily placing an order.

Income and age divides

Households were classified into four equal groups (or quartiles), based on their household income. More individuals (94%) living in households in the highest household income quartile used the Internet, compared with those living in households in the lowest quartile (59%).

Individuals under the age of 45 had the highest rate of use, at 94%, while 80% of those aged 45 to 64 used the Internet. Among seniors, about one-half (51%) of those aged 65 to 74 used the Internet, compared with 27% of those aged 75 years and older.

Overall, Canadians are experienced Internet users, with almost one-half of users (47%) having been online for 10 years or more. About three-quarters (76%) used the Internet at least once a day in a typical month.

Mobile use

Among Internet users, one-third (33%) went online with a wireless handheld device. These users tended to be younger and more experienced Internet users. The majority (59%) were under the age of 35, and most (60%) had 10 or more years of online experience. Nearly one-half (47%) also came from households in the highest income quartile.


Seniors accounted for about one-half (51%) of non-users. Nearly 4 in 10 non-users (39%) came from households in the lowest income quartile.

A majority of non-users (62%) said they did not use the Internet because they had no need or interest, did not find it useful, or did not have time. Over one-fifth (22%) mentioned a lack of skills or training, or that they found the Internet or computers too difficult to use. Limited access to a computer (12%), cost of service or equipment (9%) or age (9%) were other reasons cited for not going online.

Online activities

The 2010 Canadian Internet Use Survey was redesigned to measure online activities from any location, and so results cannot be compared with those of previous cycles, which measured activities that were conducted from home.

A majority of Internet users went online to bank (68%) or to read or watch the news (68%). Many users obtained travel information or made travel arrangements online (65%), visited or interacted with government websites (65%), or searched for medical or health-related information (64%).

Many participated in social media. A majority (58%) used social networking sites, including 86% of Internet users under the age of 35. Female users (62%) were more likely than their male counterparts (54%) to use social networking sites.

Electronic commerce

In 2010, 51% of Internet users ordered goods or services for personal or household use. In total, Canadians placed nearly 114 million orders, valued at approximately $15.3 billion.

Among those who placed an order, individuals averaged about 10 orders over a 12-month period, with an average total value of $1,362 per person.

Of those who placed an order, 55% purchased travel arrangements (for example, hotel reservations, travel tickets and rental cars) and 48% ordered tickets for entertainment events.

Most shoppers (83%) placed orders from companies in Canada, while 60% ordered from vendors in the United States, and 18% from vendors in other countries.

When it came to paying for their purchases, 89% used a credit card online, and 31% used an online payment service.

Nearly three-quarters (74%) of Internet users window shopped online, or browsed for information on goods or services, without necessarily placing an order.

Reasons for not ordering online

Of those who did not place an order, nearly one-third (32%) said that the main reason was that they had no interest, while 26% preferred to shop in person, and almost one-fifth (19%) cited security concerns.

Security incidents and practices

As part of the survey redesign, a new module was developed to measure the security and privacy-related experiences and practices of Canadian Internet users.

Nearly two-thirds (63%) of users reported having experienced a computer virus at some point in the past. Of those who had experienced a virus, almost one-half (49%) said that the virus (or viruses) resulted in the loss of information or damage to software.

About 7% of Internet users reported that they had experienced misuse of personal information online (for example, misuse of pictures, videos or personal information uploaded on public websites). Over one-third (37%) said they had received e-mails requesting personal information (such as bank account numbers or passwords) from a fraudulent source.

To protect their computer or the other devices they use to access the Internet, most Internet users (85%) indicated that they use security software.

Available on CANSIM: tables 358-0152 to 358-0158.

Definitions, data sources and methods: survey number 4432.

For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Ben Veenhof (613-951-5067; or Anik Lacroix (613-951-6399;, Business Special Surveys and Technology Statistics Division.