More than 13M Canadians volunteered in 2010: StatsCan
A course volunteer throws a salt mixture to harden the snow as warm weather sets on the hill during the men's downhill Canadian Championship race Tuesday, March 20, 2012. (Jacques Boissinot / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Published Monday, April 16, 2012 6:05PM EDT
As Canada observes a week dedicated to celebrating those who do unpaid work, Statistics Canada says there are millions of people to thank.
According to data released Monday, the agency estimates that 13.3 million Canadians, or nearly half of all citizens over the age of 15, regularly volunteered their time in 2010.
In total, StatsCan estimates they devoted more than 2 billion hours, or the equivalent of 1.1 million full-time jobs to volunteer work that year.
The numbers are even more impressive when you consider that just 10 per cent of volunteers accounted for 53 per cent of all hours given to non-profit and charitable groups in this country.
In a statement issued Sunday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper paid tribute to the "remarkable contributions" Canadian volunteers make everyday.
"These individuals, who volunteer their time and energy, are often the lifeblood of charitable organizations that could not operate without their help," Harper said.
"Their contributions range from helping the elderly and sick, to elections, to putting their lives on the line as volunteer firefighters and disaster relief personnel," he said, encouraging Canadians to thank the volunteers in their lives.
StatsCan says the most prolific among them spent at least 390 hours, or the equivalent of 10 weeks of full-time work, on their volunteer endeavours in 2010.
Other highlights from the report include:
15 per cent of volunteers accounted for 24 per cent of all volunteer hours, spending between 161 and 390 hours on their voluntary activities
- Compared to Canadians with less than a high school diploma, university graduates were twice as likely to be among the top 25 per cent of volunteers
- In order of popularity, the most common types of organizations Canadians volunteered for were: sports and recreational; social service; educational; religious; and health-related
- Also in order of popularity, the top cited motivations for volunteering were: contributing to the community (93 per cent); making use of skills and experience (78 per cent); personal connection to a cause (59 per cent); the prior involvement of friends (48 per cent)
In a speech at his inaugural Roundtable on Volunteerism and Philanthropy Monday, Gov. Gen. David Johnston singled out the 58 per cent of Canadians between the ages of 15 and 24 who volunteered their time.
"That percentage is higher than the participation rate of any other age group," Johnston said in prepared remarks praising their "real courage and intelligence in creating the kind of country they want."
But, Johnston added, they may not be put to their best use.
"These young Canadians are often left out of the strategic decision-making in organizations and are thwarted from making full use of their talents," he told attendees at the Carleton University event, calling on volunteer-staffed organizations to find ways to turn that trend around.
Of those who did not volunteer during the 12 months preceding Statistics Canada's 2010 survey, two-thirds said they couldn't find the time.
Another 45 per cent said they didn't volunteer because no one had asked them to.