News / Ottawa

More Canadians than ever before are living alone, census shows

Stats Can data shows people living alone, more same sex couples, more people living at home.

New numbers from the Census show that more Canadians are living alone than ever before.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

New numbers from the Census show that more Canadians are living alone than ever before.

The Canadian family is seeing more variations with more young adults living at home, more same-sex couples and more people living alone than ever before.

Statistics Canada released data from the 2016 census Wednesday on families, households and marital status.

“Canadian families are getting more diversified, they’re evolving. I guess it’s just to something that relates to the Canadian population,” said Laurent Martel director of the agency’s demography division.

The numbers show that more and more Canadians are coming home to an empty house, with 28.2 per cent of people living in one-person households.

That’s the highest percentage the country has seen since Confederation and the first time that one-person households have been the most common type.

Martel said that’s being driven by people living longer, leading to more senior women living on their own, more divorces and separations and simple economics.

“A growing number of people are independent economically, so they can afford it.”

Couples with children, which had been the most common, slid in the 2016 data to 26.5 per cent of households followed by couples without children at 25.8 per cent.  

Many young adults aren’t living on their own, but they're also not starting their own families – the percentage of people 20 to 34 living with mom and dad reached 34.7 per cent. Those numbers are higher among people in their early 20’s than people in their 30’s, but all age brackets saw an increase.

Millennials in the country’s biggest city were even more likely to live with their parents, with 47.4 per cent of those living in Toronto living at home. This is followed by other municipalities nearby like Oshawa at 47.2 per cent and Hamilton at 44.5.

Martel said the increase is largely a story about Ontario where the highest numbers of adults living with their parents currently reside. He said housing costs are likely a factor, but that’s not something the census gets into.

“It’s probably one of the main reasons, but the census doesn’t ask why you’re living with your parents.”

Statistics Canada first began measuring same sex couples in 2001 and since that time the percentage has been consistently rising, growing 12.9 per cent in the last five years.

Same-sex couples now make up about one per cent of Canadian couples and about a third of them are legally married.

Martel pointed out that same-sex marriage has been legal in Canada since 2005 and more stigmas are breaking down which makes it more likely people will report in the census.

“It’s been 12 years now so things are changing,” he said. “We think people are more willing to declare themselves as living as part of a same-sex couple.”

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