CCSD Stats & Facts - A Profile of Canadian Families (Fact Sheet) (2023)

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CCSD Stats & Facts - A Profile of Canadian Families (Fact Sheet) (2)

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  • There were 8.4 million families in Canada in 2001.

  • The majority of Canadian families are married households. In 2001, 70.4% of families were married couples, 13.8% were common-law relationships, and the remaining 15.6% were lone-parent families.

  • Although married families are the most common family type in Canada, Quebec and the Northern Territories have a smaller percentage. In 2001, only 58.2% of families in Quebec were married families, while 25.2% were common-law. In the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut, common-law families ranged from 23% to 31%, higher than the Canadian average of 13.8%.

  • The size of Canadian families is decreasing. In 2001, average family size was 3.0 persons, down from 3.1 in 1991, and 3.7 in 1971. Nunavut had the largest average family size, at 4.4 persons.

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  • The number of families in Canada grew by 6.8% between 1996 and 2001. The largest proportional increase was among common-law families, which rose by 25.8%. Ontario and Prince Edward Island reported the largest increases in the number of common-law families, which grew by more than 30% over this five-year period.

  • Distribution of Canadian Families,
    by Family Type and Province/Territory, 2001

    Province/TerritoryMarried, children at homeMarried, no children at homeCommon-law, children at homeCommon-law, no children at homeFemale lone-parentMale lone-parent
    Prince Edward Island44.3%29.9%4.4%5.0%13.6%2.7%
    Nova Scotia39.9%31.9%4.8%6.6%14.0%2.8%
    New Brunswick40.1%30.9%6.0%6.9%13.1%3.0%
    British Columbia41.0%32.4%3.9%7.1%12.6%2.9%
    Northwest Territories37.2%15.6%15.6%10.8%15.8%5.2%
    Source: Calculations by the CCSD using data from Statistics Canada's 2001 Census, Ivision Table 97F0005XCB01006.ivt.


  • There were 1.3 million lone-parent families in Canada in 2001. The majority of these families were headed by women (81.3%).

  • Over the last decade, there has been a steady increase in the number of lone-parent families. Between 1991 and 2001, the number of male lone-parent families grew by 49%, while the number of female-lead lone-parent families rose by 35%.

  • The Northwest Territories (21%) and Nunavut (25.7%) reported the highest percentage of lone-parent families in Canada in 2001.


  • In 2004, there were 146,377 marriages in Canada, a marginal decrease of 0.9% from the previous year. The number of marriages has been declining in recent years, with a drop of 6.0% recorded between 1999 and 2004.

  • In 2004, 48.6% of the Canadian population were married, 41.8% were single, and the remainder (9.6%) were divorced or widowed. Nunavut had Canada's largest proportion of single people, at 62.8%, and Newfoundland had the lowest, at 38%.

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  • Canadians are continuing to marry later in life. The average age of brides in 2002 was 31.5 years. This was up by 2.2 years from 1991, and up 5.3 years from 1981. The average age of grooms in 2002 was 34 years, an increase of 2.2 years from 1991, and 5.2 years from 1981.

  • The number of divorces in Canada has remained relatively stable over the last few years. In 2003, there were 70,828 divorces – up 1% over the previous year – largely due to increases in Ontario (+5.1%) and Quebec (+1.4%).

  • Between 2002 and 2003, the divorce rate in Canada increased by only 0.7%. Most provinces and territories recorded a drop in their divorce rates, the exceptions being Prince Edward Island, Quebec, and Ontario, which reported increases of 2.1% over this period. New Brunswick and Saskatchewan reported marginal increases of 0.4% and 0.3%, respectively.

  • Divorces in Canada
    and the Provinces/Territories

    Province/Territory2000200120022003% Change
    % Change
    Prince Edward Island2722462582813.3%8.9%
    Nova Scotia2,0541,9451,9901,907-7.2%-4.2%
    New Brunswick1,7171,5701,4611,450-15.6%-0.8%
    British Columbia10,01710,11510,1259,820-2.0%-3.0%
    Northwest Territories94836862-34.0%-8.8%
    Source: Calculations by the CCSD using data from Statistics Canada's The Daily, May 4, 2004.


  • In 2003/04, there were 745,254 regulated child care spaces across Canada. This was an increase of 151,824 spaces from 2001, and 373,741 more spaces than in 1992. Of these 745,254 spaces, 48% were centre-based full-day and part-day care for preschool-aged children, 34.1% were child care spaces for school-aged children, and the remaining 17.9% were regulated family care spaces.

  • In 2003/04, there were only enough regulated child care spaces to accommodate 15.5% of Canadian children aged 0 to 12. This was, however, an improvement over 2001, when there were regulated spaces for only 12.1% of Canadian children, and an increase over 1992, when there were spaces for only 7.5% of children. Among the provinces and territories, the percentage of children aged 0 to 12 for whom there was a regulated space available ranged from a low of 4.9% in Saskatchewan to a high of 29.9% in Quebec.

  • Between 2001 and 2003/04, 151,824 new child care spaces were created and of those, 87,000 spaces - or 57.3% - were generated in Quebec. In fact, by 2003/04, 43% of all regulated child care spaces in Canada were in Quebec, up from 40% in 2001.

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  • Between 1992 and 2004, the percentage of children for whom there was a regulated space increased in all provinces and territories except Alberta. Quebec reported the greatest increase over this period (at 23.1%), while Alberta saw a decline of 0.4%. In five of the provinces, the increase was less than 5%.

  • Estimated Number of Regulated Child Care Spaces
    by Type of Care,
    Canada & Provinces/Territories, 2003/04

    Province/TerritoryCentre-based full and part-day child care for preschool-aged childrenSchool-aged child careRegulated family child careTOTAL regulated spaces% of children aged 0-12 for whom there is a regulated child care space
    Prince Edward Island3,3652695404,100218.9%2
    Nova Scotia12,6003n/a15912,7599.6%
    New Brunswick11,7473n/a15011,89711.0%
    Alberta41,40517,7676,55447,959 (65,726)69.3% (12.7%)6
    British Columbia39,76923,08917,37280,23013.7%
    Northwest Territories8021612561,21913.1%
    CANADA357,421 (48.0%)254,218 (34.1%)133,615 (17.9%)745,254 (100%)15.5%
    Source: Childcare Resource and Research Unit, Early Childhood Education in Canada 2003/04.

    N/A = Not available
    1Includes individually licensed and agency approved settings.
    2For the purpose of comparison with other provinces, the figure 1,266 part-day spaces (excluding part-day kindergarten spaces) has been used in calculations.
    3This figure includes school-aged child care, as breakdown is not available.
    4Nursery schools (part-time) are not regulated in Quebec, Saskatchewan or Yukon, so are not included in these figures.
    5School-aged child care for children 5-12 years old is the responsibility of the Ministry of Education (MEQ).
    6School-aged child care in Alberta became regulated for the first time in 2004. For purposes of comparison with previous years, the 2003/04 figure for Alberta uses the number of spaces without school-aged care; the figure including school-aged care appears in brackets. However, the figure including school-aged spaces has been used in the total spaces calculations and total percentage calculations in this table.

    Estimated Number of
    Regulated Child Care Spaces
    Canada & Provinces/Territories, 1992 to 2004

    Province/Territory19921995199820012003/04% Change 1992 to 2003/04
    Prince Edward Island4,1233,8883,7174,2704,100-0.6%
    Nova Scotia10,82610,64511,16311,46412,75917.9%
    New Brunswick7,1627,9529,20411,08611,89766.1%
    British Columbia42,92759,79468,97872,94980,23086.9%
    Northwest Territories9631,2861,3511,2341,21926.6%
    N/A = Not available
    Source: Childcare Resource and Research Unit, Early Childhood Education in Canada 2003/04.
    *School-aged child care in Alberta became regulated for the first time in 2004. For purposes of comparison with previous years, the 2003/04 figure for Alberta uses the number of spaces without school-aged care; the figure incuding school-aged care appears in brackets. However, the figure including school-aged spaces has been used in the total spaces calculations and total percentage calculations in this tabale.

    In November 2004, the CCSD organized the “Child Care for a Change” conference in Winnipeg, in cooperation with Social Development Canada, the Government of Manitoba, and Status of Women Canada. Over three days, 650 participants from across Canada discussed, debated and shared their expertise on the latest developments in child care policy.

    Highlights from the Conference proceedings and workshop sessions are available on the Council's website at, along with a special issue of the CCSD's Perception magazine, which focussed on quality child care and early learning.


  • In 2003, almost 72% of Canadian mothers with children under age 16 were in the labour force working either full- or part-time. Over the last decade, the percentage of mothers in the workforce has increased steadily, particularly among women with children under age 3. In 1993, 55.1% of women with children under 3 were employed, and by 2003, this had climbed to 63.4%.

  • Overall, women with preschool-aged children are less likely to be employed than those with school-aged children. In 2003, 65.6% of women with children under age 6 were employed, compared with 76.5% of women with children aged 6 to 15.

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  • Female lone-parents are less likely than women in two-parent families to be employed. In 2003, 67.9% of female lone-parents with children under age 16 living at home were employed, compared with 72.3% of mothers in two-parent families with children in the same age group.

  • Percentage of Mothers
    who are Employed,
    by Age of Youngest Child,
    1993 to 2003

    &nbspYoungest child under age 3Youngest child aged 3-5Youngest child under age 6Youngest child aged 6-15Youngest child under age 16Mothers under age 55, no children under age 16 living at home
    Source: Statistics Canada, Women in Canada: Work Chapter Updates, 2003.


  • Based on estimates from the economics section of Manitoba Agriculture, the cost of raising a daughter to age 18 in 2004 was an average of $166,549. For boys, the figure was slightly higher – at $166,972 – due to extra costs for food.

  • Raising a child can be an expensive undertaking, with the first year being the most expensive. In 2004, over $10,000 was needed to raise a child to age 1. Parents spent the least amount of money – close to $7,000 – when their children reached age 12. Expenses for both boys and girls then began to rise again as they entered their teenaged years.

  • The Progress of Canada's Children and Youth 2006 is the latest edition in this highly acclaimed series ofCCSD reports which explore different aspects in the lives of Canada's young people. Using informationfrom a vast number of databases, Progress examines trends in family life, economic security, physicalsafety, community resources, health status, social engagement, learning, and the labour force(April 2006). Check the


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