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Gettin' together: new census highlights spike in same-sex and common-law unions

OTTAWA – Highlights from the latest release of data from the 2011 Canadian census, focused on families and living arrangements:

— Canada home to 9,389,700 “census families” — married or common-law couples, or single parents — in 2011, 5.5 per cent more than in 2006.

— For the first time, there were more common-law couples in Canada — 16.7 per cent of all census families — than single-parent families, at 16.3 per cent.

— Same-sex marriage nearly tripled between 2006 and 2011 as same-sex couples grew by 42.4 per cent. Same-sex common-law couples grew 15 per cent, compared with 13.8 per cent for opposite-sex common-law couples.

— Common-law couples increased 13.9 per cent between 2006 and 2011, compared with 3.1 per cent for married couples over the same time period.

— Single fathers grew by 16.2 per cent, compared with six per cent for single mothers, as lone-parent families grew eight per cent since 2006. Single mothers still comprise 80 per cent of single-parent families.

— Stepfamilies, counted for the first time in 2011, comprised 12.6 per cent of Canada’s 3.7 million couples with children. Nearly 60 per cent were “simple” stepfamilies — families in which the children are the biological or adopted offspring of only one parent.

— The census counted 29,590 foster children aged 14 and under living in private households.

— Ten per cent of all children aged 14 or under living in private households were members of a stepfamily.

— The number of couples without children at home (44.5 per cent) continued to outpace those couples with kids living at home (39.2 per cent).