National Volunteer Week: Almost half of Canadians lend a helping hand

Nadine Bells
Good News

According to the latest numbers from Statistics Canada, almost half of Canadians do volunteer work.

In 2010, 47 percent of Canadians volunteers. That's 13.3 million people.

In total, 2.1 billion hours were donated to volunteer activities, the equivalent of 1.1 million full-time jobs.

Of those volunteers, 10 percent of them accounted for a whopping 53 percent of the volunteer hours. (That's 390 hours dedicated to their volunteering positions each.)

Most likely to volunteer? University graduates and religious individuals.

"The education finding is a source of comfort, since more people are getting higher levels of educations — and there's hope the volunteer pool will grow as a result," said Cathy Barr, senior vice-president of Imagine Canada. "The religious attendance one, of course, goes in the opposite direction."

"The vast majority of volunteers — 93% — said they donated their time because they wanted to contribute to their communities, while 78% said they wanted to make use of their skills and experience, 59% were personally affected by a cause and 48% were motivated by friends," QMI Agency reports.

Most encouraging was that 12.5 percent more Canadians volunteered in 2010 than in 2004.

In a statement issued Sunday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper paid tribute to the "remarkable contributions" Canadian volunteers make daily, and encouraged Canadians to thank the volunteers around them.

"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 added.

Do you volunteer?