The Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) has released new data offering insight into how technology and internet use has changed in Canada since the COVID-19 pandemic began. The findings suggest that with the number of Canadians working from home having skyrocketed, many are experiencing slower internet speeds as video streaming and teleconferencing usage spikes.
Based on an online survey conducted by The Strategic Counsel of 1,200 Canadian internet users (18-79 years of age) between April 3-7, the report found that 38% of respondents reported their home internet connection slower than before the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing began. B.C. residents were more likely to say their connection is slower since the pandemic began (49%). Nearly one in 10 Canadians also reported reaching their monthly mobile phone data cap since the pandemic began.
Working From Home
- The number of Canadians working from home has grown seven-fold. Half of Canadians (52%) currently employed say they are now working from home as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, compared to just 7% before it began.
- Nearly half of households (44%) reported having two or more people working at home due to COVID-19.
- 61% said having no commute is by far the biggest perceived benefit of working from home.
- Nearly half (45%) say the biggest drawback is fewer face-to-face interactions, followed by problems ‘switching off’ (27%) and lack of proper office equipment (25%).
- One in four (26%) working from home report having no dedicated workspace and instead have to continually move around and improvise.
Entertainment and Staying Connected with Family and Friends
- 70% of respondents said they are spending more time streaming TVs and movies, while a third or more (38%) report spending ‘a lot’ more time doing so.
- 18 to 39 year olds are more likely than those 40+ to spend more time playing video games and listening to podcasts.
- Over half (61%) of Canadians report spending more time connecting with friends via video or teleconference.
- The telephone tops the list of preferred ways to stay in touch with friends and family amongst those over 40. For those 18-39, the most preferred method is WhatsApp.
- Six-in-10 internet users have made an effort to support Canadian businesses and retailers instead of international ones when shopping online since the pandemic began.
- Nearly half (46%) say they are shopping mostly from large chain stores for food and other items, while, about one-third (36%) are shopping from both large chains and local small businesses.
- Few Canadians (12%) report that they are shopping primarily from local small businesses.
- While people are more likely to say that their online shopping frequency has increased with large retailers than with local independent stores, they report that the most common way of engaging with local area small businesses is by ordering take-out or delivery (35%).
“COVID-19 has changed everything. It feels like overnight the entire country had to move their work, schooling, and social calendar online,” said David Fowler, vice-president, marketing and communications, CIRA, in a release. “Over the past few weeks, the power of the internet to connect us has never been more clear, nor more important.”
“The data shows how the country is coping with our massive shift online. There are struggles as Canadians discover that working from home isn’t without its pitfalls, but we are also seeing families and friends playing games, hosting video conference parties and connecting online like never before,” added Fowler. “As Canadians do their part to fight this virus, we hope this data helps shine a light on what folks are doing online during this very unusual time in our country’s history.”
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