They are young, educated and most likely to live in Ontario.
That's the typical profile of Canadian users of shared ride and room services such as Uber and Airbnb, according to Statistics Canada's first snapshot of the sharing economy.
One in 10 adult Canadians used one of these services in the 12 months to October, 2016, sustaining what has become a $1.3-billion-a-year industry, Statscan reported Tuesday.
But usage varies widely across the country. People in the National Capital Region are the most likely to use Uber and Airbnb; residents of Winnipeg and Quebec City the least likely.
People in Ottawa-Gatineau are more than twice as likely as other Canadians to embrace the sharing economy. The urban area leads the country in the reported use of both ride-sharing (17.6 per cent) and accommodation-sharing (8.5 per cent). That's well above the national average of 7 per cent for ride-sharing and 4.2 per cent for shared-accommodation services. Toronto was No. 2 in ride-sharing and 6th in accommodation.
"Ottawa is a high-income, tech-literate city, where even the older generation of public servants are keen smartphone users," said Dan Hara, an Ottawa-based economist who has studied the taxi and ride-sharing industries.
Statscan official Myriam Hazel said it's hard to draw definitive conclusions about why some Canadians use Uber and Airbnb more than others. But she said anecdotal evidence suggests people with higher levels of education are more open to using them, and Ottawa leads most other Canadian cities in education.
But the reason Ottawa-Gatineau leads the country is more than just about willing and enthusiastic users. It's also a function of the market, regulatory environment and the competition. Mr. Hara pointed out that Ottawa has fewer taxis per capita than Toronto and other cities, making it tough to hail a cab on the street. It also boasts relatively congestion-free roads, allowing Uber drivers to efficiently use their vehicles.
"It's a perfect market for Uber," Mr. Hara said.
Ottawa legalized ride-sharing services in September, 2016, several months after Toronto, and just as Statscan was conducting its survey.
Regulators in other provinces, including Quebec and Alberta, have been more resistant to ride-sharing. Uber remains illegal in many jurisdictions, including British Columbia.
Age and language may also discourage take-up of these services, according to Philip Cross, former chief economic analyst at Statistics Canada. He pointed out that Ottawa is a relatively young city, compared with Montreal or Winnipeg. Mr. Cross pointed out that French-speakers may also be less likely to use Uber and Airbnb – U.S.-based companies that offer their services on English-only smartphone apps.
Usage is also linked to youth. Sharing-economy participants are heavily concentrated among millennials, aged 18-34, according to Statscan.
The United States may be slightly ahead of Canada. A 2016 poll by the Washington-based Pew Research Center found that 15 per cent of Americans had used ride sharing, and 11 per cent room sharing. A 2014 PricewaterhouseCoopers study put the total value of the sharing economy at $14-billion (U.S.).
But the market for these services is growing at more than 20 per cent a year, as urban dwellers catch on to their ease and low cost, according to PwC.
Canadians spent more than $1-billion (Canadian) on so-called peer-to-peer room services, and $241-million on ride services, according to Statscan, which conducted the study as part of its October, 2016, Labour Force Survey. The agency has no immediate plans to repeat the survey in future years. But Ms. Hazel said private clients can pay for the questions to be added to future surveys.