"overall picture one of an increasing diversification of our families"

The 2006 Canadian census figures were released yesterday, and the statistics show the continuing and increasing diversity of the Canadian family.

While some decry this as the end of civilization, I see it as a beautiful, progressive advance. Increasing numbers of people are living lives they create for themselves, on paths of their own choosing, rather than forcing themselves into the narrow confines of a few pre-determined molds. A wider range of choices have (finally) become socially acceptable, and I think we'll see that range widen even further as time goes on.

In many ways, Canada is a model of a diverse society, which can only thrive when people value tolerance and peaceful coexistence.
The redefinition of family continues apace in Canada, with the latest household figures from the 2006 census showing a significant increase in the number of same-sex couples and a first-ever count of same-sex marriages.

At the same time, there are more common-law families, more childless couples, more people living alone and a greater number of single-parent households in Canada than ever before.

The census counted 45,345 same-sex couples, up 32 per cent from 2001, representing 0.6 per cent of all couples in Canada. Not surprisingly, half of these couples lived in the three largest census metropolitan areas: Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver.

Statistics Canada allowed census respondents for the first time to indicate if they were in a same-sex marriage. A total of 7,465 couples said they were.

About nine per cent of Canadians in a same-sex relationship had children under 24 years old living in the home.

The census also found:

• There were 6,105,910 married-couple families, an increase of only 3.5 per cent from 2001, accounting for 68.8 per cent of all census families.

• In contrast, the number of common-law-couple families surged 18.9 per cent to 1,376,865, or 15.5 per cent of all census families. Only two decades ago, that proportion stood at 7.2 per cent.

• The number of lone-parent families increased 7.8 per cent to 1,414,060.

• The number of one-person households increased 11.8 per cent, more than twice as fast as the 5.3 per cent increase for the total population in private households.

• The number of households consisting of couples without children aged 24 years and under increased 11.2 per cent from 2001.

"The overall picture certainly is one of an increasing diversification of our families and households," said Doug Norris, senior-vice president and chief demographer at Environics Analytics.

"For the first time ever, we've got more couples without children than with children, we've got over a quarter of our households with one person only," he said.

Globe and Mail story here.

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