Volunteering enriches the volunteer and contributes much to the community, the local economy and the non-profit sector to build the overall social capital of a region. Niagara has a rich array of human and cultural services that actively engage volunteers on their boards of directors and in aspects of their fundraising, public awareness campaigns and direct services. Each organization monitors the recruitment, selection, education and service hours of their participants separately and this makes regional data hard to trend.


In 2004, 47.1% of those in St. Catharines- Niagara volunteered (compared to 69.9% in Guelph, 61.5% in Kingston, 55.7% in Hamilton, 54.4% in Oshawa, 46.6% in Kitchener).  Five of Canada’s most giving areas were in Ontario and Niagara was not one of them; Niagara was 17th of the 37 included in the report. Source: The Canadian Council on Learning (data originally collected for the Canada Survey of Giving, Volunteering and Participation, 2004, from Statistics Canada).


The volunteer rate was up from 1997 when 34% of Niagara’s population volunteered compared to 32% in Ontario and 31% in Canada. (134 average annual hours for Niagara compared to 146 in Ontario and 149 in Canada). On average, volunteers contributed a total of 134 hours each during the year for a total of 13.4 million hours. This is the equivalent of 6,950 full-time jobs – roughly equal to 4% of the region’s labour force in 1997. Source: http://www.givingandvolunteering.ca/factsheets/1997_on_giving_and_volunteering


In 2004, 45% of Canadians aged 15 and over volunteered approximately 2 billion hours; an average of 76 hours. Those over the age of 65 volunteered the most average hours at 111 hours annually. British Columbia had the highest average of volunteer hours per year, with 90 hours in 2004 and Ontario had 73 hours per year. The four main areas of volunteer work Canadians reported being involved in were in sports and recreation (18%), social services (17%), religion (16%) and education or research (11%). Teenagers volunteered the highest percentage of any age group (65%). Volunteers who benefit from support from their employer contribute more hours than other volunteers. If regional trends continue, Niagara’s growing seniors’ population will provide more volunteer hours and seniors will also require increased assistance from volunteers.  Source: Highlights from the 2004 Canadian Survey on Giving, Volunteering and Participating, Cat. No. 71-542-XIE http://www.statcan.ca/english/freepub/71-542-XIE/71-542-XIE2006001.pdf

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