Canada's changing family
BRODIE FENLON - Globe and Mail Update and Canadian Press
September 12, 2007 at 10:02 AM EDT
TORONTO — The redefinition of family continues apace in Canada, with the latest household figures from the 2006 census showing a significant increase in the number of same-sex couples and a first-ever count of same-sex marriages.
The census counted 45,345 same-sex couples, up 32 per cent from 2001, representing 0.6 per cent of all couples in Canada. Not surprisingly, half of these couples lived in the three largest census metropolitan areas: Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver.
Statistics Canada allowed census respondents for the first time to indicate if they were in a same-sex marriage. A total of 7,465 couples said they were.
About nine per cent of Canadians in a same-sex relationship had children under 24 years old living in the home.
Although the increase in same-sex couples is significant, it was not unexpected.
Under-reporting is common on first-time census questions: The number of same-sex couples identified by the Australian census doubled from 1996 to 2001; the United States saw an increase of 300 per cent from 1990 to 2000.
Moreover, Canada has seen broad policy changes on same-sex couple rights and entitlements since the last census.
Adoption, pension benefits, child-care tax breaks and a host of other rights were awarded to gay and lesbian couples in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Canada became the fourth country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage in July, 2005, after several provincial courts ruled that the government's definition of marriage – the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others – was unconstitutional.
Experts say these policy changes and greater societal tolerance made it easier for same-sex couples to self identify on the 2006 census.
"drf" and I are looking forward to being able to raise the numbers for Vancouver in the next census . . . .