COVID-19 has changed everything. Overnight the entire country had to move their work, schooling, and social calendar online.
New survey data from the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) offers insight into how technology and internet use has changed in Canada since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
Widespread school closures, social distancing, and work from home has significantly shifted how Canadians are using the internet to learn, work, and stay connected with friends and family.
The findings suggest that the number of Canadians working from home has skyrocketed, and that many are experiencing slower internet speeds as video streaming and video and teleconferencing are on the rise.
Here are the key findings of the survey:
Mobile and Home Internet Use:
– Many Canadians are reporting slower internet speeds. 38 per cent of respondents said their home internet connection is slower than before the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing began.
– B.C. residents are more likely to say their connection is slower since the pandemic began (49 per cent).
– Nearly one in 10 Canadians have 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 per cent) currently employed say they are now working from home as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, compared to only 7% who were working from home before it began.
– Nearly half of households (44 per cent) report having two or more people working at home due to COVID-19.
– 61 per cent of respondents working from home say having no commute is by far the biggest perceived benefit of widespread working from home.
– Nearly half (45 per cent) say the biggest drawback is fewer face-to-face interactions, followed by problems ‘switching off’ (27 per cent) and lack of proper office equipment (25 per cent).
– One in four (26 per cent) 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
– A majority of Canadians are spending more time streaming video online. 70% of respondents say 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 per cent) 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 years of age. For those 18-39, the most preferred method is WhatsApp.
– Internet users in Canada are making an effort to support Canadian businesses. 6-in-10 have made an effort to support Canadian businesses and retailers instead of international ones when shopping online since the pandemic began.
– Nearly half (46 per cent) say they are shopping mostly from large chain stores for food and other items, while, about one-third (36 per cent) are shopping from both large chains and local small businesses.
– Few Canadians (12 per cent) 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 per cent).
An online panel methodology was used to survey 1,200 Canadian internet users (18-79 years of age) between the dates of April 3 – 7, 2020. The total sample is proportionate to population by gender, age and province. Research was performed for CIRA by The Strategic Counsel.