A new Statistics Canada report has found the sharing economy, based on digital platforms that enable people to rent out skills and resources such as ride services to others, is increasingly playing an important role in the Canadian economy.

To produce the report, Statistics Canada surveyed Canadians across the country about their use of peer-to-peer (P2P) ride services and private accommodation services and found that 9.5 per cent – 2.7 million people – over the age of 18 participated in both, with spending totalling $1.31 billion between November 2015 and October 2016.

The agency defined P2P ride services as “services that connect riders and drivers through a mobile application that acts as an intermediary and processes the payment from the rider to the driver,” such as Uber or Lyft.

Private accommodation services are those “that connect travelers and hosts through a mobile application or website that acts as an intermediary and processes the payment from the traveler to the host,” such as Airbnb or Flipkey.

Individually, seven per cent of adults in Canada used P2P ride services last year, while just over four per cent used private accommodation services, Statistics Canada said in a Feb. 28 press release. “Spending on peer-to-peer ride services totalled $241 million, while more than $1 billion was spent on private accommodation services,” it added.

However, it’s worth noting that while $1.1 billion was spent on private accommodation services between November 2015 and October 2016, averaging to $890 per user, this is for both inside and outside of Canada.

“Of that total, $367 million was spent in Canada, while $698 million was spent outside of Canada,” Statistics Canada found. “The average spending by Canadian users of private accommodation services in Canada was $307, while it was $584 for those who used the service outside Canada.”

Young people more likely to take advantage of sharing economy

Not surprisingly, the use of P2P ride services was highest among young people aged 25 to 34 (14.6 per cent) and 18 to 24 (13.5 per cent), while only 2.1 per cent of people over the age of 55 reported using P2P services.

Similarly, usage of private accommodation services was highest among Canadians aged 25 to 34 (8.6 per cent), 35 to 44 (4.8 per cent) and 18 to 24 (4.4 per cent), and lowest among people over 55 (2.1 per cent).

In terms of geography, Ottawa-Gatineau respondents had the highest proportion of P2P ride services usage among the eight most populous census metropolitan areas, at 17.6 per cent, followed by Toronto (14.8 per cent) and Edmonton (9.8 per cent), Statistics Canada said.

This result was echoed in private accommodation services, which 8.5 per cent of people in Ottawa-Gatineau used. However, Calgary (7.6 per cent) and Vancouver (6.1 per cent) came in second and third place, respectively.

When broken down by sex, use of both P2P ride services and private accommodation services was almost 50-50. The split between men and women, respectively, was 51.1 vs. 48.9 per cent for P2P, and 49.7 vs. 50.3 per cent for private accommodations.

A small proportion of Canadians offer their services

However, a much smaller number of people actually offer their services, Statistics Canada reported. Approximately 72,000 adults reported offering P2P ride services within the timeframe mentioned above, with just over 75% of providers living in either Ontario (50.1 per cent) or Quebec (25.7 per cent).

And in similar fashion, “about 69,000 adults living in Canada indicated that they had offered private accommodation services, most of whom were living in Ontario (31.1%), Quebec (26.4%) or British Columbia (25.1%),” Statistics Canada said.

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