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article imageCanada census reveals true picture of changing family structure

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By Darren Weir     Sep 19, 2012 in Lifestyle
Ottawa - Canada's census reveals that the number of marriages is on the decline, while common-law and same-sex couples are on the rise. The national survey also counted step families for the first time. 12.6% of couples with children are blended families.
The data was compiled by the 2011 census, found that there are almost 9.4-million families in Canada, but just two-thirds of them are married couples. The rate of common-law couples rose by almost 14% between 2006 and 2011, more than four times the growth rate for married couples.
Statistics Canada's Laurent Martel says, "I think it's related to the fact that we saw a large increase in common law couples, so people are shifting from married to common law. It's not a new trend, we've seen this coming for years."
The number of same-sex couples has increased by 42.4 per cent. But while the number of same-sex couples who have gotten married has tripled since it was legalised in 2005, the majority are choosing common-law arrangements. But those numbers may not reflect an accurate picture. When the census-takers noticed a high number of same-sex relationships in places like the oilpatch, they realized that many of the "couples" were only splitting the rent. As a result some of the data on gay and lesbian families has been held back until it can be sorted out. Census manager Marc Hamel says, “We observed that there was a possible over estimation of same-sex families, the counts for some smaller communities seemed too high.”
For the first time, the census found there are more people living alone as there are couples with children. Single-person households now make up 27.6 per cent of all homes, triple the rate in 1961. The number of families with children living at home, has fallen to 39.2%
This is also the first time that foster children have been identified in the census results. There were almost 30,000 foster children under the age of 14, living in Canada in 2011. More than 17,000 households take care of foster children, with more than half of them taking in at least two children.
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