The face of the Canadian family is changing.
There are more common-law couples, single parents and same-sex couples heading households than ever before, according to the latest data released Sept. 19 from Statistics Canada’s 2011 Census of Population.
And while the traditional family structure-mother, father and children-still accounts for two-thirds of all Canadian families, the number of traditional families as a proportion of all families declined from 2006 to 2011.
The census counted a total of 9,389,700 families in 2011. Of these, 67 per cent consisted of married couples, down from 70.5 per cent a decade ago. In contrast, common-law couples increased by 13.9 per cent in 2011 and single-parent families rose by 8.0 per cent that same year.
The number of same-sex married couples “nearly tripled” between 2006 and 2011-the five year period following the legalization of same-sex marriage in Canada. The census counted 64,575 same-sex couple families in 2011, an increase of 42.4 per cent from 2006. (Statistics Canada later stated that the number of same-sex married couples may have been overestimated by as many as 4,500.)
The census also showed that 92.1 per cent of Canadians 65 years of age and older are living in a private household. This hasn’t changed significantly since the last census, but more than half (56.4 per cent) are living as part of a couple, a slight increase from 54.1 per cent in 2001. The number of seniors who live alone was down slightly, 24.6 per cent in 2011 versus 26.7 per cent in 2001.
The census counted stepfamilies and foster families for the first time. One in 10 children ages 14 and younger lived in a stepfamily in 2011. Children living in foster families represented 0.5% of children ages 14 and younger living in private households.
The number of young adults, ages 20 to 29, who still live with their parents “appears to have leveled off,” said the report. It noted that four in 10 young adults still live with their parents. Most of them are in their early 20s, and most are male.