Statistics Canada released another set of data from its recent 2011 Canadian census, showing a general decrease in nuclear family structures since the last census was conducted in 2006. In particular, the census reported a diversification of family structure with an increase in same-sex couples and families.
In the past five years, the number of married couples has increased by 3.1 per cent, while the number of common-law couples saw a rise of 13.9 per cent.
The last census, taken in 2006, was taken months after the Civil Marriage Act made Canada the fourth country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide.
Since then, legal same-sex marriages have increased by 181 per cent, according to the National Post.
Despite this growth, the total number of legally married same-sex couples is still under 1 per cent of the wtotal married couples in Canada.
The National Post recently stated in a news article that the census results show that “The sanctity of marriage as the bedrock of the Canadian family is steadily eroding.”
According to Celine Le Bourdais, Canada Research Chair in Social Statistics and Family Change and professor of sociology at McGill, “There was no backlash here – especially not in Quebec – as there was in the United States.”
Mona Greenbaum, director of the Coalition des Familles Homoparentales, told The Daily she was skeptical about the reported increase in same-sex couples.
One possible reason for this is that the census may have counted roommates as married gay couples.
“Roommates who are married – just not to each other – could have been counted as a couple,” reported the CBC.
As a result, Statistics Canada admitted they could not tell in many cases whether two people were a cohabitating couple or strictly splitting the rent and may have overestimated as many as 4,500 same-sex married couples, according to the CBC.
“I know that in Quebec, there is a larger proportion who are cohabitating. Four out of five were common-law couples – they were not married. This goes along with [the fact that] in Quebec people get married less,” said Le Bourdais.
The census also reported that more cohabitating couples, which includes both same-sex and heterosexual couples, were having children.
Although the majority of married same-sex couples were male, those with children were overwhelmingly found to be two females.
“Since the 2002 reform of the Civil Code we have had different ways to start our families,” said Greenbaum.