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Just In: Both Living Common Law and Living Alone Are On the Rise, Says StatsCan

Written by Russell Alexander / (905) 655-6335

Just In: Both Living Common Law and Living Alone Are On the Rise, Says StatsCan

According to a new report by Statistics Canada released July 13, 2022, the living arrangements of modern-day Canadians has shifted in two important respects:  1) Almost one-quarter of Canadian couples who live together are doing so in a common-law arrangement, rather than in a traditional marriage; and 2) More Canadians than ever are living alone.

The report, titled “State of the union: Canada leads the G7 with nearly one-quarter of couples living common law, driven by Quebec”, stems from data taken from the 2021 Census of Population, which canvassed 8.6 million couples in Canada.  It begins by concluding that most Canadian adults (aged 15 and over) are still part of a couple – the figure is about 57 percent – which has remained roughly unchanged since 1981.  Of these couples, about 77 percent are married in the traditional way.

But the big change is in the number of common-law couples – a 447 percent increase since 1981, to be exact.  About 22.7 of all couples are now choosing to live under the same roof in a common-law union, rather than get married. There are regional differences, however:  Ontario has the lowest percentage in Canada (at 15.7 percent of all couples) while Nunavut has the highest (at 52 percent).

The StatsCan report notes that “While diverse forms of couplehood have always existed, recognition of different types of couples has increased as society has evolved.”  It speculates on some of the reasons for this higher-than-ever figure on common-law cohabitation:  These include financial factors stemming from previous relationships – including having children from a prior marriage, and part-time living arrangements involving members of a stepfamily or extended family.  The report also points to the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused major disruption to households due to serious illness, job losses or reduced working hours, and stress or conflict from enduring lockdowns, restrictions, and remote work/schooling.

The second noteworthy aspect of the StatsCan report pertains to living alone:  According to the data, a full 4.4 million Canadians now live solo, which is up from 1.7 reported in 1981.   A related trend also sees an increase in people living with roommates – which is up 54 percent over the past 20 years.

For some additional reporting on various aspects of this newly-released census data from StatsCan, see: nsus-data-on-changing-makeup-of-canadian-families.html

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About the author

Russell Alexander

Russell Alexander is the Founder & Senior Partner of Russell Alexander Collaborative Family Lawyers.