Society and community

How Canadians use their time sheds light on changes in social relationships and communities. Time-use diaries inform us about issues of current or emerging interest and reveal trends in our society.

Canadians who participated in paid work and related activities in 2010 spent, on average, 8 hours, 12 minutes on these activities on the diary day. Paid work took 7 hours, 38 minutes and commuting and other work-related activities took 1 hour, 5 minutes.

Men remain more likely than women to spend time on paid work and related activities. However, the gap between the sexes is narrowing. In 1998, 51% of men spent time on paid work and related activities, compared with 36% of women. In 2010, these proportions were 49% for men and 39% for women.

In 1998, 38% of people aged 15 to 24 took part in education-related activities on the diary day, a proportion that rose to 43% in 2010, when they spent, on average, 6 hours, 28 minutes a day on these activities.

Unpaid work

People who performed unpaid work in 2010—such as housework, child care, and civic and voluntary activities—spent 4 hours, 4 minutes a day on these activities, up 8 minutes from 1998.

Over those 12 years, men who partici­pated in unpaid work increased their activities by 15 minutes per day, while the time that women spent on these activities remained stable. On average, women spent 4 hours, 38 minutes on any given day on unpaid work in 2010, 1 hour, 13 minutes more than men.

The share of the population who spent time cooking was 65% in 2010, down from 74% in 1998, while the proportion who spent time housekeeping fell to 36% from 41%. In 2010, women were more likely than men (91% versus 81%) to have done household work on the diary day.

Canadians who took care of children reported spending 2 hours, 31 minutes a day on primary child care in 2010, up 21 minutes from 1998. In 2010, parents with children aged 4 and younger spent the most time on child care, 4 hours, 52 minutes a day, a rate over twice that of parents with children aged 5 to 12, who averaged 1 hour, 59 minutes a day.

Regardless of the child's age, women are spending more time caring for children than men. In 2010, women spent 6 hours, 33 minutes per day caring for children aged 4 and younger while men spent 3 hours, 7 minutes.

Women with young children who worked 30 or more hours a week spent 5 hours, 13 minutes a day on child care. Men in the same situation spent 2 hours, 59 minutes on child care.

Less socializing

Canadians are spending less time socializing with friends and relatives outside the home. The proportion of people who took part in social activities—including restaurant meals and face-to-face or telephone conversations—fell to 59% in 2010 from 66% in 1998. This might be partly because people are spending more time interacting via online social networks and text messaging.

The proportion of people who used computers for email, social networking and searching for information increased to 24% in 2010, a nearly fivefold increase from 5% in 1998. Users spent an average of 1 hour, 23 minutes a day on the computer, excluding paid work activities.

By contrast, television viewership fell to 73% in 2010 from 77% in 1998. Viewers spent an average of 2 hours, 52 minutes a day in front of the TV in 2010. The number of people who played video games doubled from 3% in 1998 to 6% in 2010. The amount of time spent playing video games increased from 1 hour, 48 minutes to 2 hours, 20 minutes from 1998 to 2010.

More sleep, reduced time stress

In 2010, Canadians aged 15 and older reported getting 13 minutes more sleep per day than 12 years earlier. This brought the average daily time spent on sleep to 8 hours, 18 minutes.

In general, people reported less time stress in 2010: 34% felt trapped in a daily routine, down from 39% in 1998, while the proportion who felt they had no time for fun declined to 29%, down from 38%. Fewer people wanted to slow down in the coming year, and fewer described themselves as workaholics. Fewer also reported that they were concerned about not spending enough time with family and friends.

These declines may be occurring because people aged 55 and older now represent a larger share of the population. Older people tend to feel less stressed by time pressures than their younger counterparts.

Chart 29.1 Time spent on various activities, by sex, 2010
View data source for chart 29.1

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