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One in 10 Canadian adults participate in the sharing economy: StatCan
Feb. 28, 2017
Claire Brownell

One in 10 Canadian adults made use of sharing economy services like those offered by Uber Technologies Inc. and Airbnb Inc. last year, according to data released by Statistics Canada Tuesday.

The national statistical agency surveyed people living in Canada about their use of such services from November 2015 to October 2016. The survey examined ride sharing services like Uber — an app that dispatches drivers to pick up and drop off passengers using their own vehicles — and accommodation services like Airbnb, which facilitates the rental of spare rooms and apartments on a short-term basis.

“The sharing economy — which can be defined as an activity facilitated by digital platforms where people rent their skills (such as, driving or computer skills) and make their resources (such as properties or cars) available for money — has the potential to play an increasingly important role in the Canadian economy,” the agency said in a release.

Statistics Canada found 2.7 million Canadians — or 9.5 per cent of the population — used ride- or accommodation-sharing services last year. Canadians were more likely to use ride sharing than accommodation sharing, with 7 per cent of Canadian adults using services like Uber and 4.2 per cent using services like Airbnb.

Since these services are relatively new and facilitated by technology, it’s not surprising that young people were the most frequent users. Statistics Canada found 14.6 per cent of Canadians aged 25 to 34 used ride sharing last year, with 8.6 per cent of Canadians in the same age group using accommodation sharing services. In contrast, just 2.1 per cent of Canadians aged 55 or older used either ride sharing or accommodation sharing services.

Canadians were far more likely to use an app to find a lift or a place to stay than they were to offer such a service themselves, with less than one per cent of the population making money through the sharing economy last year. Statistics Canada found about 72,000 Canadian adults worked as drivers for a service like Uber last year, with 69,000 offering their property for rent through a site like Airbnb.

The use of both types of services was evenly split among men and women in all provinces, Statistics Canada found. Ottawa-Gatineau had the highest concentration of ride sharing users, with 17.6 per cent of adults making use of such a service last year.

Canadian sharing economy users spent a significant amount of money on these services, shelling out $241 million on ride sharing and more than $1 billion on accommodation, the statistical agency found. Ride sharing users spent an average of $122 on the service last year, with accommodation sharing users spending $367 million in Canada and $698 million outside of Canada.