Quebecers who volunteer—who are they?

Montréal, December 4, 2017. – On the eve of International Volunteer Day, the Institut de la statistique du Québec is publishing a Profiles & Pathways newsletter on participation in volunteer activities among Quebecers aged 16 to 65. The data used come from the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC)carried out in 2011 and 2012.

The data reveal that, in 2012, about 36% of Quebecers aged 16 to 65 had volunteered for a charity or non-profit organization or for a political party or advocacy group in the previous 12 months. That rate is lower than in Canada as a whole (49%). Among the Quebecers who volunteered, about half (51%) did so less than once a month, 1 out of 5 (20%) at least once a month but less than once a week, and nearly 3 out of 10 (28%) at least once a week.

Several sociodemographic characteristics are associated with volunteering

The statistical models tested in the publication show that several sociodemographic characteristics are positively associated with participation in volunteer activities among Quebecers aged 16 to 65: being a woman, having at least one parent born outside of Canada, belonging to certain age groups (16-19 years, 35-44 years, or 45-65 years), having school-aged children, having a high education level, and speaking English at home. Students are also more likely to volunteer, presumably because of the school or after-school setting. In addition, those who trust others seem more likely to volunteer.

Skills and volunteering go hand in hand

The data show that high literacy levels and good technological problem-solving skills as well as regular reading and frequent use of computers outside of work are positively associated with the propensity to volunteer.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is responsible for the PIAAC. In 2011-2012, 24 countries took part in the program. Statistics Canada was in charge of collecting data in Canada. In Québec, data collection for the survey was funded in large part by the Ministère de l’Éducation et de l’Enseignement supérieur (MEES).


The Institut de la statistique du Québec produces, analyzes and disseminates official, objective and quality statistical information on various aspects of Québec society. It is responsible for carrying out all statistical surveys of general interest. The relevance of its work makes it a strategic ally for decision makers and all those wishing to learn more about Québec.

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