Here in Victoria, it is not unusual for parents to hire private tutors to help their children with some portion of their formal education. Based on what I have heard from others and seen in online advertising, I believe that the practice is much more common in larger Canadian cities like Vancouver and Toronto.
What I do know for certain is that private tuition is much more popular in some Asian countries. So far, I have tutored at least eight students from South Korea. Every single one of them has reported that after school, back home in Seoul or Incheon, they and all of their friends would head straight to a private academy or some other form of supplementary education. The intensity of academic competition these kids describe vastly exceeds what we normally see here. I am no longer surprised that one of the very first things a Korean mother does when she arrives in Victoria is find a tutor for her children, if she has not already lined one up to start within a week or two of their arrival in Canada.
Last month, I read this article on a Singaporean blog. It describes a recent survey of attitudes toward private tuition in Singapore. The article quotes some statistics about the popularity of tutors in that country and compares the amount of money spent on supplementary tuition in Singapore to the corresponding amounts spent in Hong Kong, Japan, and South Korea. The article ends with a link to the original survey results (a five-page PDF), which include an excellent graphical summary.
The more I learn about attitudes toward education elsewhere in the world, the less surprised I am by those typical stories like this one from the CBC about which countries routinely beat Canada in global math and science rankings.