Common-law couples and single life remain popular in Quebec

The latest set of results from the 2021 census paints a picture of the composition of Canadian households.

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Quebec has the highest proportion of people living alone in Canada and the highest number of common-law couples, according to new results from the 2021 census.

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And although marriage remains the main type of union in the country, the number of common-law couples continues to increase, increasing by 447% since 1981.

“Canada ranks first among G7 countries in terms of the prevalence of common-law couples in 2021,” said Laurent Martel, director of the center for demography at Statistics Canada, during a press conference on Wednesday.

“And it is mainly because of the situation in Quebec.

Released Wednesday by Statistics Canada, the latest batch of results from the 2021 census provide details on the composition of Canadian households and families, as well as their financial situation in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the data, there are now more people living alone than ever before in Canada, and Quebec remains the province with the most, at 19%. In comparison, this number is 12% in Ontario and 13% in Alberta.

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The federal agency indicated that several factors contributed to the situation in Quebec, such as “lower housing costs, tax refunds for single people in certain circumstances, as well as various socio-cultural factors, including a greater union instability.

In general, the data shows that people are more likely to live alone when residing in the downtown areas of major urban centres. The results showed that this was also true in Quebec.

As an example, the agency says nearly half of adults live alone in downtown Trois-Rivières and Saguenay, and similar levels were found in Drummondville, Quebec and Sherbrooke.

Meanwhile, across the country, people living with roommates are now the fastest growing household type, with the total jumping 54% since 2001.

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Asked Wednesday if this indicates Canadians are trying to find solutions to rising housing costs, Martel said it was not the first census that showed more people opting for roommates.

But he agreed that part of the reason is likely strategic.

“Especially as we see roommate households growing faster in larger urban centers, we can certainly think of this as a strategy to deal with housing affordability and also the cost of living,” did he declare.

Wednesday’s post also paints a picture of average household incomes across the country and how they were affected by the early part of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Data shows that two-thirds of Canadian adults have received income from some form of pandemic relief program, such as the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).

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The median amount people received through the programs in 2020 was $8,000, the agency said.

More generally, in Quebec, the median after-tax household income was $63,200 in 2020, up 12% from 2015. At the same time, the prevalence of low-income households in the province was 11.9%.

In terms of family composition, in 2021, 46% of couples in Quebec had children, nearly 43% were common-law couples and 15% of two-parent families were blended families.

Transgender or non-binary couples were found to be most prevalent in urban centers like Victoria, Halifax and Fredericton, the agency said, but less prevalent in Quebec.

The province, however, recorded the highest proportion of same-sex couples in Canada, at 1.4%. This number climbs to about 6% in Quebec and Montreal.

Wednesday’s release from Statistics Canada was the third of seven expected from the 2021 census. Future press releases will address, among other things, linguistic diversity, immigration and education.

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