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By The Numbers: How Do Canadians Measure Up?

Written by Posted On Tuesday, 03 April 2001 00:00

Statistics Canada data is behind many of the surveys and studies used to describe what Canadian homeowners are doing and what they want. Like it or not, the services and products that Canadians have to choose from as property owners probably have their start with a statistical analysis or predicted trend.

So how do we shape up by the numbers? How accurately do numbers and analysis describe your life as a Canadian property owner? Take a look at the statistics below and decide how typical you really are.

The following figures were collected from two Statistics Canada publications:

*The current edition of Market Research Handbook which is a fascinating compilation of Canadian facts and figures from across the spectrum of social and economic topics;

*The 2001 edition of the coffee-table book Canada Year Book, a hard-cover, large-format, 564-page volume which "offers readers of all ages an entertaining and engaging perspective on Canada in the year 2001." (This is reportedly the last year the $65 beauty -- a great housewarming gift -- will be produced, but it will continue to be available annually in CD Rom format.)

  • The 1996 Census revealed that 77.86 percent of the Canadian population lives in urban areas, leaving 6.4 million people to share the vast rural reaches of Canada.

  • In 1999, there were 11.2 million Canadian households, including an estimated 8 million families -- 3 million in Ontario alone -- and more than 2.6 million people living alone. Although the average family size was 3 people, living in an average of 6 rooms, 43 percent of Canadian families had 2 children

  • In 1998, shelter accounted for 20 percent of household spending -- the largest expense for those with an annual total income of less than $53,000. For those earning over $53,000, taxes took the biggest bite out of their pocketbook.

  • In 1996, there were 10.8 million occupied private dwellings in Canada and 56.6 percent of all Canadians lived in single detached houses while 9.1 percent lived in apartment buildings of 5 or more storeys. A 1998 analysis revealed that, on average, 64.7 percent of Canadians own their own home, but ownership is highest in the Maritimes (Nfld 76.2%, PEI 69.9 %, NS 72.5% and NB 73.4 %) and lowest in Ontario (67.1 %), BC (63.7 %) and the territories ( an average of 44.9 %)

  • In 1998, 34.3 percent of dwellings were mortgage free and 30.4 percent carried a mortgage, with 35.3 percent rented. In 1996, the average owner's major household payment was $754. While 98.8 percent of homes had colour televisions, home computers (first measured in 1992 at 20 percent of all households) were present in 45.1 percent of homes, with the highest usage in Ontario (49.2 percent), Alberta (50.4 percent) and British Columbia (51.6 percent).

  • In 1998, 48.5 percent of Canadian households used piped and bottled gas to heat their homes, an increase from 47.2 percent in 1996, while 33.4 used electricity, a decrease from 34.3 percent.

When you compare the patterns of your life and those of your neighbours with these statistics, where do you stand?

Statistics Canada churns out socio-economic statistics and highlights emerging trends for governments, non-profit organizations and businesses to use in setting policy, designing products and services, forecasting their success and presenting them to the public.

If you do not have the choices you feel you should, the numbers may not be revealing your interests and those shared with other homeowners. Statistics do not account for changes in values, behaviour, options and attitudes, particularly those which may be occurring more rapidly than the once-every-five-years census or interim studies can measure.

Polls and surveys are a significant part of the news we get each day. We automatically assume the figures are accurate, relevant and interpreted correctly. Even if they are not, they may be applied to you and your property in developing products, programs and policies.

Homeowners and other property owners may benefit from writing or emailing politicians and corporate executives when they feel something has been overlooked or ignored. Businesses typically respond to consumer demand and are always looking for new ideas. Governments may not be as sensitive to public needs between elections, but they won't know about your concerns at all if you don't speak up above the roar of statistics and surveys.

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PJ Wade

Futurist and Achievement Strategist PJ WADE is “The Catalyst”—intent on Challenging The Best to Become Even Better. A dynamic speaker and author of 8 books and more than 1800 published articles, PJ concentrates on the knowledge, insight, communication prowess, and special decision-making skills essential for professionals and their clients who are determined to thrive in the 21st-Century vortex of change.

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