Census: Canadian Families Redefined

By Kristina Skorbach, Epoch Times
September 19, 2012 Updated: October 1, 2015
The latest 2011 census data, which focuses on family dynamics, dwellings, and marital status, illustrates a very different version of Canada than the one depicted in this photo that was familiar a half-century ago. The family photo of Mom, Dad and their 2.1 kids is now crowded with foster kids, grandparents living in the family home, same-sex couples, and moms going it alone. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Leigh Tynan)

The latest batch of 2011 census data released by Statistics Canada shows the changing face of Canadian families over the past five years.

Although traditional families composed of married couples declined between 2006 and 2011, they still formed the predominant family structure, accounting for two-thirds of all families.

In contrast, the proportion of common-law couples and lone-parent families both increased, with common-law couple families outnumbering lone-parent families for the first time in 2011. Common-law families increased 13.9 percent from 2006 to 2011, while lone-parent families increased 8 percent.

Single-parent families accounted for 16.3 percent of Canadian families and common-law couple families accounted for 16.7 percent, while the rest were married couples. The 67 percent of married-couple families is a significant decrease from 1961, when it was 92 percent.

About 8 in 10 lone-parent families were female lone-parent families, representing 12.8 percent of all families surveyed.

The number of same-sex married couples nearly tripled between 2006 and 2011, reflecting the first full five-year period during which same-sex marriage has been legal in Canada. Same-sex couples made up less than 1 percent of the families surveyed.

For the first time, the census counted the number of children in foster homes as well as those in stepfamilies.

Data showed 1 out of every 10 children aged 14 and under in private households lived in a stepfamily in 2011. Foster children aged 14 and under represented 0.5 percent of children in this age group in private households.

As for the elderly, a higher share of seniors aged 65 and over lived as part of a couple in a private household in 2011 compared with 2001. During the same period, the proportion of senior women who lived alone declined, while it remained much the same for senior men.

About 1 in every 12 seniors lived in a collective dwelling, such as a nursing home or a residence for senior citizens.

The census provides important information for policymakers who use the information for outlining infrastructure initiatives for Canadian cities. It is also valuable for campaigners who use the data to gauge the needs of Canadian families.

The StatsCan findings were based on a survey of nearly 9.4 million Canadian families.

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