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

Close to one-quarter of common-law-couple families in Canada lived in Montréal and Québec

Of the 1.4 million common-law-couple families in Canada, nearly one-quarter (23.4%) lived in the two census metropolitan areas (CMAs) of Montréal and Québec on May 16, 2006.

A census metropolitan area (CMA) is a region that has a population of at least 100,000, including an urban core of at least 50,000. Canada has 33 CMAs today, up from 27 in 2001. The six new CMAs are Barrie, Guelph, Brantford and Peterborough, Ontario; Moncton, New Brunswick; and Kelowna, British Columbia.

In fact, the proportion of common-law-couple families was much higher than the national average (15.5%) among the five census metropolitan areas located in the province of Quebec. Roughly one-third of census families lived in common-law unions in Québec (34.5%), Sherbrooke (33.1%), and Trois-Rivières (32.4%), a proportion higher than the provincial average of 28.8%. Proportions of common-law-couple families were also high in Saguenay (29.5%) and Montréal (25.4%) compared to the other CMAs of Canada, but closer to the provincial average.

The lower proportion of common-law-couple families in Montréal may be related to the fact that its population has a high proportion of immigrants. When census data on immigration are released, it could provide more information on the family structures in these CMAs. The CMAs of Toronto and Vancouver, which also attract a large proportion of immigrants to Canada year after year, also had a low proportion of common-law-couple families. Toronto had the lowest proportion of all CMAs across the country, at only 7.8%. In contrast, the proportion of married-couple families in the CMAs of Toronto and Vancouver was much higher than the national average, and Montréal was higher than the Quebec provincial average.

Table 11 Distribution of census families by family structure, census metropolitan areas, 2006

Two other CMAs had a higher proportion of common-law-couple families than the national average: Ottawa - Gatineau and Moncton. Located partially in the province of Quebec or fairly close to that province, these CMAs also had a high proportion of francophones among their population.

The map showing the percentage of all couples who were common-law provides a more detailed picture of the geographic distribution of common-law unions in Canada. Aside from the particularly high levels in all parts of Quebec, it is noteworthy that the proportion of common-law unions in Northern Canada is above the national average.

Canada. Percentage of couples who are common-law by 2006 Census Division (CD)

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