The Evolution of the Digital Divides in Canada

29 Pages Posted: 1 Apr 2014 Last revised: 16 Aug 2014

Date Written: August 15, 2014


This paper analyzes the evolution of the digital divides in Canada. Our first model suggests that education, age, income, geographical location, sex and employment status all influenced Internet use in 2012, after controlling for all the factors. The descriptive statistics suggest that the digital divide based on Internet use from any location decreased slightly, generally speaking, between 2010 and 2012. However, when we look at Internet use with a wireless handheld device, the digital divide has widened considerably in most socio-demographic groups. A linear regression model is then used to assess the presence of a “second level” digital divide by regressing the number of online activities performed by Internet users on a set of socio-demographic variables. The results suggest that income, education and age are the main predictors of the number of activities Internet users carry out online, thus suggesting that younger, wealthier and more educated individuals have a greater propensity to take advantage of our digital society.

It is important for policy analysts and academic researchers to continue monitoring the various aspects of the digital divide in order to ensure all Canadians have the opportunity to participate fully in a digital society. However, such monitoring requires pertinent data and measurement of Internet use in Canada remains somewhat ad hoc. For instance, this and other similar research efforts use data from the Canadian Internet Use Survey (CIUS), which continues to be conducted on an occasional basis.

This paper presents some thinking on how the program of measurement of the digital divide and more broadly the measurement of the digital economy can evolve in Canada. It addresses a series of data gaps pertaining to the measurement of the digital divide, from issues of population coverage to barriers to adoption and use, to digital skills and competencies, ICT use in school, and effects of digital platforms on connecting Canadians, as well as impacts of increased information flows.

Key elements of a roadmap for the measurement of the digital divide in Canada are identified, including strengthening of partnerships as leader and curator of official statistics; making more efficient use of existing survey infrastructure; targeting content on individual use of ICTs; and exploring avenues for direct measurement of Internet performance. The paper concludes with a series of key considerations for addressing the digital divide in Canada.

Keywords: Broadband, Internet access and use, Digital divide, Non-users

Suggested Citation

Landry, Karine and Lacroix, Anik, The Evolution of the Digital Divides in Canada (August 15, 2014). 2014 TPRC Conference Paper, Available at SSRN:

Karine Landry (Contact Author)

Industry Canada ( email )

613-990-4268 (Phone)

Anik Lacroix

Statistics Canada ( email )

Ottawa, Ontario
613-951-6399 (Phone)

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