Statistics Canada reports 21.7 million Canadians 16 and over use the internet for personal reasons. ((iStock))

Eighty per cent of Canadians age 16 and over used the internet for personal reasons in 2009, up from 73 per cent two years earlier, Statistics Canada reports.

People living in Alberta and B.C. reported the highest internet usage rates, at 85 per cent in each province. Calgary and Saskatoon topped the list for internet use by city, each with 89 per cent.

The most common household internet use was email, while health information was the topic most frequently searched.


Internet use: What do you like to do online?

An increasing number of internet users now report watching TV and movies online (31 per cent), and contributing content through writing blogs, uploading photos or taking part in discussion groups (27 per cent).

The number of Canadians with high-speed access also grew — to 92 per cent in 2009 from 88 per cent in 2007.


Younger Canadians in larger cities, with higher education and income, are more likely to use the internet. ((iStock))

Statistics Canada reported a continuing "digital divide" between internet users and non-users, with age, income, education and geography as key factors.

Canadians living in communities with fewer than 10,000 people use the internet far less than those in larger centres.  The margin is 83 per cent versus 73 per cent.

The survey also showed that among wealthy Canadians, those with incomes over $85,000 personal internet usage is 94 per cent, compared with 56 per cent in households with incomes under $30,000.

People with a post-secondary education reported 89 per cent internet use, compared with 66 per cent for those with no post-secondary education.

Not surprisingly, younger Canadians used the internet far more than those in older age groups.

In 2009, 98 per cent of those between 16 and 24 went online, compared with 66 per cent of Canadians over 45.

The survey that produced the data included 23,000 Canadians over the age of 16. It was conducted by Statistics Canada in November 2009.