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Commuting Patterns and Places of Work of Canadians, 2006 Census: Highlights

Portraits of census metropolitan areas and their municipalities

  • In the Toronto, Montréal and Vancouver census metropolitan areas, the number of workers rose faster in the peripheral municipalities than in the central municipality (based on their place of work). For example, in Toronto, the increase was 12.9% in the peripheral municipalities as a whole, compared to only 0.7% in the central municipality (the City of Toronto).
  • Among the 25 municipalities with the most workers in Canada, the three with the largest increase in the number of workers were Vaughan (+22.2%), Surrey (+17.0%) and Laval (+15.8%). All three were peripheral municipalities to their respective census metropolitan area (Toronto, Vancouver and Montréal).
  • Despite the growth of the peripheral municipalities, the clusters of workplaces in the city centres continued to dominate in several census metropolitan areas. For example, in five of the six largest census metropolitan areas in Canada, the census tract with the largest number of workers was right in the heart of the city centre.
  • Of the 25 municipalities with the most workers in 2006, Montréal was the one with the biggest net increase in workers (the number of people working there was almost 270,000 higher than the number of workers living there).
  • Between 2001 and 2006, the median commute distance for Toronto (9.4 kilometres) and Montréal (8.1 kilometres) residents increased slightly (+0.2 and +0.1 kilometres, respectively). In contrast, the median distance fell for Vancouver residents, from 7.6 kilometres in 2001 to 7.4 kilometres in 2006.
  • In 2006, workers living in the census metropolitan areas of Barrie (35.3%), Oshawa (32.6%) and Abbotsford (24.4%) were the most likely to commute 25 kilometres or more to work.
  • Residents of Oshawa had the highest median commute distance (11 kilometres). They were followed by those of Toronto (9.4 kilometres), Barrie (9 kilometres), Hamilton (8.3 kilometres), Calgary (8.2 kilometres), Montréal (8.1 kilometres) and Ottawa - Gatineau (8.1 kilometres).
  • In 2006, the three census metropolitan areas with the highest public transit use were Toronto (22.2%), Montréal (21.4%) and Ottawa - Gatineau (19.4%).
  • Between 1996 and 2006, the proportion of workers using public transit rose in the census metropolitan areas of Calgary (+3.1 percentage points), Oshawa (+2.3), Ottawa Gatineau (+2.2) and Vancouver (+2.2).
  • In several census metropolitan areas, most of the increase in the use of sustainable transportation, i.e., public transit, walking or biking, was among workers under 35 years of age, with usage generally rising very little among those aged 35 and over.
  • Public transit was more frequently used in Canada's large metropolitan areas than in U.S. metropolitan areas, such as Boston or San Francisco (but less than in the New York area).
  • In 2006, more than 40% of workers whose usual place of work was in the municipalities of Toronto, Montréal and Vancouver, used a sustainable mode of transportation to get to work. These proportions were much lower in the peripheral municipalities of the census metropolitan areas (where a sharp growth in employment attracted more and more commuters).

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