OTTAWA – New polling data commissioned by CIRA indicates that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought transformative, lasting change to Canadians’ use of the internet. Having been forced to work from home, many people now say they want to continue doing so. Among the many changes, more than a third of those surveyed say they would refuse jobs with employers who do not permit virtual work.
While it is no surprise that most people spent more time online in this past year, with massive increases in the use of virtual meetings and online services (half received online medical care for the first time), they don’t seem to be sick of it, as a majority say they don’t plan to unplug more often post-pandemic. At the same time, many are troubled by the risks of online harassment.
Facebook remains by far the most popular social media platform, but Canadians have decidedly mixed feelings about it. More than four in 10 Canadians feel Facebook is the most toxic social media site, and 36 per cent say it is the most addictive. Only one in 10 of the people surveyed say Facebook is the most positive site or app they use.
While giants such as Amazon have prospered, 7 in 10 of the people surveyed said they prefer to shop online with Canadian retailers. As a result, small businesses in this country quickly pivoted to establish an online presence which led to a massive increase in .CA domain registrations. .CA domain names registrations jumped from 2.8 million in March 2020—when the pandemic began—to over 3.1 million registrations a year later.
The findings are in featured CIRA’s annual Canada’s Internet Factbook and draw from a poll conducted by The Strategic Counsel.
“The pandemic challenged Canadians to adapt, to embrace technology as a way of coping with a once in a lifetime public health emergency,” said Byron Holland, president and CEO, CIRA. “Canada’s Internet Factbook shows us that it brought profound changes in attitudes and that there’s no going back. We hope our report provides helpful insight for employers, decision-makers and all of us as we transition into a post-COVID recovery.”
The full findings are featured in this year’s Canada’s Internet Factbook report and in the poll results here.
- While many employers plan to re-open their offices, many Canadians prefer to work at home. Thirty-six per cent of survey respondents say they would be unwilling to work for an organization that doesn’t also allow for remote work.
- More than six in ten Canadians report that their screen time has increased during the pandemic, with 62 per cent saying their children’s screen time has also increased.
- Half (49 per cent) of Canadians received medical care online for the first time since the pandemic began.
- More than half of us also attended some kind of virtual event for the first time (55 per cent), with birthday parties, holiday dinners, and exercise classes being the most common.
- The pandemic has increased Canadians’ internet obsession, as less than half of Canadians (43 per cent) plan to unplug from the web more often once the pandemic is over.
- Ordering food online has seen a big increase. One in four Canadians says they are ordering home food delivery more frequently than before the pandemic began.
- While many Canadians turned to social media to stay connected during the pandemic, one-third reported feeling concerned about online harassment. Women were more likely than men to feel concerned about being harassed, with 39 per cent saying so compared to 29 per cent of men.
CIRA developed Canada’s Internet Factbook 2021 through an online survey conducted by The Strategic Counsel. The purpose of CIRA’s research is to identify trends in Canadian internet use. A total of 2,022 adult Canadians (18+) took the survey, conducted in March 2021. The survey sample is weighted proportionately to population by province. It is also proportionate by age and by gender. Where percentages are used to represent the survey, responses do not add up to exactly 100%, it is due to rounding.
CIRA (The Canadian Internet Registration Authority) manages the .CA top-level domain on behalf of all Canadians. CIRA also develops technologies and services—such as CIRA DNS Firewall and CIRA Canadian Shield—that help support its goal of building a trusted internet for Canadians. CIRA team operates one of the fastest-growing country code top-level domains (ccTLD), a high-performance global DNS network, and one of the world’s most advanced back-end registry solutions.