Statistics Canada
Symbol of the Government of Canada
Warning View the most recent version.

Archived Content

Information identified as archived is provided for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It is not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards and has not been altered or updated since it was archived. Please contact us to request a format other than those available.

2006 Census: Family portrait: Continuity and change in Canadian families and households in 2006: Highlights

By Anne Milan, Mireille Vézina and Carrie Wells, Demography Division, Statistics Canada

  • The 2006 Census enumerated 8,896,800 census families in Canada. Married couples constituted the largest group (68.6%), although their proportion has been steadily decreasing for the past 20 years.
  • The number of common-law-couple families increased 18.9% between 2001 and 2006, more than five times the 3.5% gain observed for married-couple families and more than double the growth of 7.8% for lone-parent families.
  • Lone-parent families headed by men increased 14.6% during the five years prior to 2006, more than twice the growth of lone-parent families headed by women (+6.3%).
  • For the first time in 2006 there were more census families comprised of couples without children (42.7%) than with children (41.4%).
  • The 2006 Census enumerated 45,300 same-sex couples. Of these, about 7,500 (16.5%) were married couples and 37,900 (83.5%) were common-law couples. In 2001 there were 34,200 same-sex couples in Canada.
  • The number of same-sex couples grew 32.6% between 2001 and 2006, more than five times the growth observed for opposite-sex couples (+5.9%).
  • Households have been declining in size over the past century. In 2006, there were more than three times as many one-person households (26.8%) as those consisting of five or more people (8.7%).
  • The census counted 12,437,500 private households in 2006, up 7.6% from 2001. One-person households (+11.8%) and couples without children (+11.2%) grew more than twice as fast as the total population in private households (+5.3%). Households with children edged up only 0.4%.
  • For the first time in 2006, there were more unmarried people aged 15 and over in Canada than legally married people. Just over one-half of Canada's population aged 15 and over was unmarried, that is, they had never been legally married, or they were divorced, widowed or separated.
  • Two-thirds (65.7%) of Canada's total of 5.6 million children aged 14 and under lived with married parents in 2006, a decline from 81.2% in 1986.
  • A growing proportion of young children aged 4 and under had a mother in her forties as more and more women delayed childbearing. In 2001, 7.8% of children aged 4 and under had a mother who was between the ages of 40 and 49. By 2006, this proportion had increased to 9.4%.
  • The proportion of young adults aged 20 to 29 who lived in the parental home continued to increase, following an overall upward trend for the past 20 years. In 2006, 43.5% of young adults lived at home, up substantially from 32.1% two decades earlier.
  • Provincially, Newfoundland and Labrador (52.2%) and Ontario (51.5%) had the highest proportions of young adults in their twenties living in the parental home in 2006 while Alberta (31.7%) and Saskatchewan (31.8%) had the lowest proportions.
  • Nova Scotia had the lowest proportion of private households comprised of couples with children (25.5%) in 2006. The national average was 28.5%.
  • Common-law unions continued to be more prevalent in Quebec in 2006, where over one-third of couples lived in a common-law union (34.6%), a level much higher than the other provinces and territories (13.4%).
  • Ontario had the highest proportion of married-couple families (73.9%) in Canada in 2006 and the lowest proportion of common-law-couple families (10.3%).
  • The number of census families in Alberta increased 11.5% between 2001 and 2006, nearly twice the national average (+6.3%).
  • In 2006, half (50.0%) of same-sex couples in Canada lived in Montréal, Toronto and Vancouver. Quebec, Ontario, and British Columbia were the first three provinces to legalize same-sex marriage.
  • In 2006, nearly one out of five census families was a lone-parent family in the census metropolitan areas of Regina, Saint John, St. John's, Winnipeg, Thunder Bay and Montréal.
  • Census metropolitan areas with fast growing populations in private households also tended to have the most rapid increases in the number of households with couples and children. Between 2001 and 2006, households with couples and children grew above the national average (+0.4%) in Barrie (+14.6%), Calgary (+12.9%) and Oshawa (+7.6%).
  • In 2006, more young adults aged 20 to 29 in Toronto's CMA lived with their parents (57.9%) than in any other CMA. The national average was 43.5%.

previous gif  Previous page | Table of contents | Next page  next gif