The 2016 Canadian census has just been released and confirms that Canadian households are continuing to evolve. In the new findings released this week, an updated overview of the country shows that the definition of family in Canada is becoming more inclusive.
For the first time ever, people living alone now make up the majority of households in Canada. The 2016 census found that almost 30 per cent of all Canadian households are occupied by one person. This number has jumped drastically from 7.4 per cent in 1951.
Jonathan Chagnon, a demographer with Statistics Canada, says that a number of factors have led to an increase in single person households, including a higher rate of divorce, as well as an aging population that often leave one partner widowed and living alone. “There’s an improvement in the standard of living – 150 years ago there was no retirement pension so it was really difficult to live by yourself,” says Chagnon. “It can explain why today it’s possible to be in a one-person household.”
As the population ages and housing prices continue to rise, so do the numbers of multi-generational families living in one house. Homes with at least three generations living under one roof have seen a 37.5 per cent growth rate since 2001, accounting for more than 2 million Canadians. The rate of young adults living with family has also increased, with 34.7 per cent of adults aged 20 to 34 living with at least one adult. Toronto’s rising housing market is likely to account for this trend, with almost half of all young adults in Toronto living with their parents.
When Canada was first born, the average number of people per household in rural areas was 5.6. That number has now dropped a significant amount 150 years later to an average of 2.4 people per rural household. The census also found that only 51 per cent of couples have a child, the lowest number that has ever been recorded. While the number of couples with children has increased by 2.3 per cent, the number of couples without a child is growing at a faster rate, up 7.2 per cent.
Couples who are married are still the most frequently found, but common law couples now make up 21 per cent of all couples, in comparison to only 6.3 per cent of couples in 1981. This number varies throughout the country, with Nunavut having 50 per cent of its couples living with the common-law status, compared to only 14 per cent in Ontario.
Although same-sex couples only make up 0.9 per cent of the Canadian population, this number has grown 60 per cent in the past 10 years. Of the 72,880 same-sex couples living in Canada, one third are married and a little more than half are men. Out of these couples, approximately 12 per cent have children living in their home. As for location, same-sex couples tend to gravitate towards large urban centers, with half of the population spread out between Toronto, Ottawa, Vancouver, and Montréal.
The number of single-parent homes is also on the rise, with approximately 20 per cent or one million Canadian children living with one parent. While the majority of children in single-family homes live with their mother, there is a rise in single-parent homes run by the father, with 34.5 per cent of single-parent homes now led by the male caregiver.