Canadians and the Internet: StatsCan releases 2016 GSS Survey Results

Statistics Canada has released the 2016 General Social Survey (GSS), Canadians at Work and Home, results.


The vast majority of Canadians, of all ages, use the Internet.

  • Just over 90% of Canadians 15 years of age and older went online at least a few times a month in 2016, and it was not just young people checking out the Internet. Some 68% of those 65 years of age and older also used the Internet at least a few times a month.
  • According to the 2016 GSS, 91% of Canadians aged 15 and older used the Internet at least a few times during the month preceding the survey, up from 86% three years earlier in 2013. While people aged 15 to 44 had similarly high usage rates—generally well over 90% in both years—individuals aged 45 and older increased their Internet use substantially from 2013 to 2016. Most notably, among 65- to 74-year-olds, Internet use rose from 65% to 81%, while among those aged 75 and older usage rose from 35% to 50% over these three years. Internet use varied across the provinces, ranging from 94% in Alberta to 88% in Newfoundland and Labrador in 2016. In every province, Internet use was highest among the youngest age groups and lowest for those aged 75 and older.

Most Canadians own smart phones, and use multiple devices.

  • Specifically, nearly three-in-five (59%) Canadians aged 15 and older reported that life was better as a result of their use of technology in 2016. Interestingly, the proportion of those who felt this way was fairly stable for those aged 15 to 64—averaging about 61%. From age 65 on, it declined to 55% for those aged 65 to 74 and continued falling to 38% for Canadians aged 75 and older. These older Canadians were more likely to say that the use of technology makes no difference in life.
  • Technology can offer several potential benefits. Indeed, 77% of Canadians aged 15 and older reported that technology helps them to communicate with others, 66% felt that it saves time, 52% stated that it helps to make more informed decisions, and 36% felt that it helps one to be more creative. In each case, Canadians in younger age groups were more likely to affirm these benefits than their older counterparts. Those aged 75 and older were consistently the least likely to agree that technology helped them achieve these benefits.
  • Overall, 14% of Canadians felt that technology often interfered with other things in life, with a declining pattern showing across older age groups. Among those who reported that technology often interfered with other things in life, the proportion ranged from 20% of 15- to 24-year-olds to 3% of those aged 75 or older. This is perhaps not surprising since people who use technology more often are more likely to find it interfering with the rest of life.
The Internet and Digital Technology, Statistics Canada, 2017
The Internet and Digital Technology, Statistics Canada, 2017


About the GSS and Canadians at Work and Home survey:

The two primary objectives of the General Social Survey (GSS) are to gather data on social trends in order to monitor changes in the living conditions and well being of Canadians over time; and to provide information on specific social policy issues of current or emerging interest.

The mandate of the GSS “Canadians at Work and Home” is to explore people’s views about work, home, leisure and well-being, and the relationships between these. Data from this survey will help decision makers select the programs and policies that will best serve Canadians.