Society and community
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One of the ways that Canadians are engaged in society is through their social networks—their families and friends, neighbours, co-workers, religious and voluntary organizations, community groups, institutions or the Internet.
Many Canadians turn to these networks to help them cope with a major change, such as undergoing a change in their finances or health, or experiencing the death of a loved one. In 2008, more than 4 in 10 Canadians (43%) aged 20 and older had experienced at least one major change in the previous year that had a large impact on their lives.
Types of change, their impact and how they were handled all varied by life stage. One constant, however, was that no matter the life stage, Canadians consistently identified family as the most helpful resource for dealing with major change, providing such things as emotional, financial and informational support. Nearly 7 in 10 Canadians turned to their families for support and almost 6 in 10 Canadians turned to their close friends when dealing with a major life change.
While 39% of people used the Internet to help deal with change, it was seldom cited as the most helpful resource, implying that Canadians still rely on people to help cope with life changes.
Many Canadians give to their communities by donating time, money or both. In 2007, about 84% of people aged 15 and older reported that they donated money to charitable or other nonprofit organizations and 46% of people volunteered for an organization. The rates of donations and volunteering were virtually the same rates as in 2004.
The amount of financial donations and volunteer time did increase from 2004. Canadians donated $10.0 billion in 2007, an increase of 12% in donations from the $8.9 billion reported in 2004. However, these figures are not adjusted for inflation. Canadians volunteered 2.1 billion hours in 2007, an increase of 4% from 2004. That volunteer time was the equivalent of 1.1 million full-time jobs.
The top quarter of donors (who gave $364 or more) contributed 59% of total donations and 40% of total volunteer hours.
In 2007, 84% of Canadians provided direct help to someone instead of through an organization, such as doing housework or driving someone to an appointment. Those aged 15 to 34 gave direct help more frequently than other age groups.
Sense of belonging
In 2008, nearly 9 in 10 Canadians surveyed felt a 'somewhat strong' or 'very strong' sense of belonging to Canada, while more than 8 in 10 felt that level of attachment to their province and more than 7 in 10 felt a 'somewhat strong' or 'very strong' sense of belonging to their local community. Proportionately, men and women expressed virtually the same levels of attachment to Canada. The percentage of Canadians with a 'very strong' sense of belonging to Canada increased with age.
Two out of three residents of the Prairie provinces said they felt a 'very strong' sense of belonging to Canada—the highest proportion among survey respondents. The lowest proportion was in Quebec, where one in three residents reported a 'very strong' sense of belonging to their country.