Census reveals increasing diversity

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Census data released last week has shown that Canadian households have undergone diversification in comparison to five years ago.

Current information from Statistics Canada counted 9,389, 700 census families  in 2011, increasing up to 5.5 per cent in comparison to the 2006 census. Of these families, virtually 6,294,000 were made up of married couples. This is a 3.1 per cent increase from previous years.

The amplification in married couples is not the only thing that has changed, however. Since 2006, the number of common law families has increased by 13.9 per cent.

Wilfrid Laurier University associate professor in the department of sociology Glenda Wall believes that the idea of marriage is no longer a major priority to individuals. Instead, couples are choosing to live together and delay marriage or remain unmarried.

“You have a smaller of proportion of families being married couples. Fewer people are choosing to marry or delaying marriage longer,” Wall said.

“Common-law has been accepted, its not stigmatized like it used to be. Children grow up with the experience of parents who have been divorced and there’s speculation that they are less willing to marry.”

Wall also shared that there is now an estimated 464, 335 step-families in Canada. They now represent 12.6 per cent of the approximate 3.7 million couple families with children currently living in Canada.

Nora Bohnert,  demographer with Statistics Canada, also noted that the gradual trend of common-law families rose at an increasing rate in the duration of a 30-year period. The trend patterns of common-law unions forced Statistics Canada to reevaluate how they count the population.

“When you look over the population in the last five years, there has been a gradual trend that has happened over time,” Bohnert explained.

“We didn’t even begin counting common-law couples until 1981 and they have increased rapidly since then.”

Bohnert also shared that blended families and single-parent households have also increased, as the divorce rate has continued to progress in the last five years to just over 1,527,800.

In addition to the acceptance of common-law unions, there has been an increase in same-sex marriages and unions.

Same-sex families have been up to 64, 575, which is a staggering 42.4 per cent increase from the 2006 census. Of these, 21, 015 were same-sex married couples and 43, 560 were same-sex common-law couples. In total, Same-sex couples accounted for 0.8 per cent of the population.

“There is a growing diversity of families,” Wall said. “There is a corresponding increase in same-sex marriages and it will only increase over time.”

The drastic changes in the census have been viewed by Stats Canada as having a positive impact on Canada and its people. The census shows a Canada that is more diverse and tolerant of these changes in the home life.

“I think they are positive, they indicate greater diversity in families, and greater tolerance for diversity in families,” Wall said.

“We have families that are very different. We have families that still love and care for each other, but they don’t always fit the same mold.”


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