East vs. West: Canadian Internet usage differs vastly coast to coast
Jameson Berkow Oct 12, 2011 – 11:25 AM ET | Last Updated: Oct 12, 2011 11:26 AM ET
You will have an easier time finding one in British Columbia than you will in New Brunswick.
An average of four in five (80%) Canadians over 16 were online in 2010, Statistics Canada said on Wednesday. However, only 70% of individuals living in New Brunswick were regular Web users while 86% of B.C. counted among Canada’s netizens in 2010.
Redesigned for 2010, StatsCan’s annual Canadian Internet Use Survey was broken into two components to measure household and individual usage based on responses from two samples totalling more than 50,000 people. While the new design makes the results difficult to compare to previous years, New Brunswick has typically ranked towards the bottom of Canadian Internet usage since 2005.
While the federal information gathering agency provided many reasons for why some Canadians still remain offline, no explanation of the vast geographic disparity was immediately forthcoming.
Despite the Internet being an apparently less popular pastime out east, the region is nonetheless home to a growing contingent of Web startups. Social media analysis firm Radian6 Technologies Inc., based in Fredericton, was picked up by California cloud computing giant Salesforce.com Inc. for US$326-million last March in what remains the largest acquisition of a venture-backed Canadian startup of the year so far.
Then there is GoInstant Inc., a small online customer engagement startup based in Halifax still in stealth mode. Being headquartered in a province with Internet usage below the national average hasn’t prevented some major buzz brewing around the company.
Halifax, incidentally, was among the most popular Canadian cities to get online last year, with 88% of the city having Internet connections. That figure is 9% higher than the usage rate for all of Nova Scotia.
Canadians aged 65 and older accounted for 51% of those who remained offline last year while 39% of non-users had extremely low income. The remaining 10% cited a range of explanations from a general lack of internet, time or training for their continued Internet reticence.
Also noteworthy is one figure released in May as part of the household component of the survey. Those living with two or more other people were virtually guaranteed (93%) to have an Internet while barely half (58%) of those living alone had home Internet access.
In the individual component released on Wednesday, 94% of those aged 45 and under had Internet connections.
So unless New Brunswick is filled with cash-strapped single seniors and British Columbia is populated by masses of affluent young families, other forces are clearly behind the Internet being more popular in Canada the further west you travel.