Canadians Living a Life Aquatic


Fondest memories revolve around water; Canadians concerned about quality of lakes and rivers

TORONTO, Canada – June 7, 2012 – With only two weeks to the official start of summer, Canadians are looking forward to vacations, weekends at the cottage and spending time in or on the water swimming, sailing or at the beach.
For many, their fondest outdoor experiences involve water – from swimming (33 per cent) and going to the beach (33 per cent), to fishing (28 per cent) and canoeing (11 per cent). Winter sports that depend on water also factored in, with skating and skiing (14 and 13 per cent) being mentioned often, according to the 2012 RBC Canadian Water Attitudes study, which measures Canadians’ perceptions about water protection and conservation.
The poll examined the country’s passion for recreation around some of our 243,000 kilometres of shoreline and thousands of lakes and rivers and found that many Canadians consider water to be the country’s most valuable natural resource (49 per cent). In addition, almost half (48 per cent) declare freshwater was the natural resource they most care about – more than forests (21 per cent) and oil (10 per cent).
“Canadians clearly have an intense love affair with lakes and rivers. But many people are missing out on some of the greatest Canadian outdoor experiences because they’re concerned about the water quality in their local lakes and rivers,” said Lynn Patterson, Director, Corporate Responsibility. “On June 8, as we celebrate our third annual RBC Blue Water Day, we’re asking Canadians to think about why they care about water, and join us in protecting our freshwater resources here at home and around the world.”
While Canadians in all provinces share a fondness for a summer filled with freshwater activities, not everyone will wade into those waters. Almost seven out of 10 Canadians (69 per cent) are somewhat or very concerned with the quality of water in Canada’s lakes and rivers, while 52 per cent feel the quality of lakes and rivers is getting worse. While nearly two-thirds of Canadians (64 per cent) swim in Canada’s freshwater lakes and rivers at least once a year, a full 36 per cent never do. In fact, four in 10 people in Quebec, Alberta, and Atlantic Canada never swim in lakes and rivers; and interestingly, respondents in those regions also have high concerns about water quality (79 per cent, 59 per cent and 58 per cent respectively).
Clearly, water plays an important role in Canadians’ lives and protecting it is crucial. However, only four per cent report that they currently donate to an environmental organization that helps protect water, despite the fact that 89 per cent believe that nature and wildlife should be a top priority for protection.
To celebrate RBC Blue Water Day and show you care about water, go to the RBC Blue Water Facebook page on June 8 ( and RBC will donate $50 to one of five water-related charities. You can also follow RBC on Twitter (
RBC Blue Water Project grant recipient Lake Ontario Waterkeeper has created “The Swim Guide” – an app to help locate the closest, cleanest beach, get directions, view photos and determine if the water is safe for swimming in these areas – Alabama, Alberta, British Columbia, California, Florida, the Great Lakes and the Ottawa River region. To download the app, go to

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2012 RBC Canadian Water Attitudes Study: Additional highlights

Following are additional highlights from the 2012 RBC Canadian Water Attitudes Study, which has tracked Canadians’ perceptions and attitudes towards water quality and conservation since 2008.

Water consumption behaviours

  • Two-thirds of Canadians (66 per cent) always turn off the water while brushing their teeth (70 per cent female; 61 per cent male);
  • Almost half (48 per cent) avoid watering their lawns in the summer (55 per cent female; 40 per cent male);
  • Many Canadians have installed low-flow shower heads (47 per cent) and water-efficient toilets (42 per cent) in their homes;
  • Four-in-ten respondents regularly choose tap water over bottled water in restaurants;
  • Of the typical sources of drinking water at home, Canadians drink tap water (48 per cent), filtered tap water (27 per cent), water from a large jug/cooler (11 per cent) and individually-sized bottled water (nine per cent).

Top five things people do that upset Canadians the most about water usage

    1. Water their lawns when it has just rained, is raining or about to rain (48 per cent)
    2. Flush things down the toilet that should be disposed of in another manner (29 per cent)
    3. Hose down their driveway (24 per cent)
    4. Leave a faucet running in a public place (19 per cent)
    5. Use soap or shampoo to bathe in a lake (18 per cent)

Top five things Canadians admit they have knowingly done themselves

    1. Left water running in the kitchen when washing and rinsing dishes (44 per cent)
    2. Left water on while brushing teeth (42 per cent)
    3. Allowed soapy water to run down a storm drain (18 per cent)
    4. Flushed things down the toilet that should have been disposed of in another manner (14 per cent)
    5. Hosed down driveway (12 per cent)

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About the RBC Canadian Water Attitudes Study

These are some of the findings of a GlobeScan poll conducted between February 1-15, 2012, on behalf of RBC and sponsored by the UN Water for Life Decade. A sample of 2,428 adult Canadians from an online panel were interviewed. Weighting was then employed to balance demographics and ensure that the sample’s composition reflects that of the adult population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. The margin of error for a strict probability sample for a sample of this size would be ±2.0 per cent, 19 times out of 20. The margin of error will be higher in subgroups. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to multiple sources of error, including but not limited to, sampling coverage and measurement.

About the RBC Blue Water Project

The RBC Blue Water Project is an innovative, wide-ranging, 10-year global commitment to help protect the world’s most precious natural resource: fresh water. It includes a $50 million philanthropic commitment to organizations that protect watersheds and ensure access to clean drinking water. The RBC Blue Water Project also promotes responsible water use through awareness programs and supports programs that encourage businesses to develop and commercialize innovative solutions to the water issues facing the world. Since 2007, RBC has pledged over $32 million to more than 450 not-for-profit organizations worldwide that protect watersheds or ensure access to clean drinking water.

About GlobeScan

GlobeScan delivers evidence, insights, and ideas that build value for clients through stronger stakeholder relationships. Uniquely placed at the nexus of reputation, brand, and sustainability, GlobeScan combines rigorous research with creative and challenging thinking to instill trust, drive engagement, and inspire innovation within, around, and beyond our clients’ organizations.