2006 CENSUS HIGHLIGHTS: Factsheet 5

Families and Marital Status

Pie charts: Census Family by Structure, Ontario, 2001 and 2006 Bar Graph: Census Family Growth Rate, Ontario, 2001-2006 Bar graph: Distribution of Census Families, Ontario Pie Charts: Marital Status Distribution, Population 15+, Ontario, 2001 and 2006 Bar graph: Marital Status Growth Rate, Ontario, 2001-2006 Bar graph: Marital Status Distribution, Population 65+, Ontario

This factsheet looks at developments in families, marital status, households and living arrangements recently released by Statistics Canada as part of the 2006 Census.


  • A census family is defined as a married couple or a common-law couple, with or without children, or a lone-parent living with at least one child, living in the same dwelling. A couple can be of the opposite sex or of the same sex.
  • The 2006 Census enumerated 3,422,320 census families, up 7.2% from 2001. Married-couple families constituted the largest group (73.9%) but their share has declined from 75.4% in 2001.

Common-law Couple Families Increasing Fastest

  • The Census counted 2,530,560 married-couple families, up 5.2% from 2001. In contrast, the number of common-law-couple families grew by 17.6% to 351,045 in 2006, more than three times faster than for married-couple families.
  • The proportion of common-law-couple families rose from 9.4% to 10.3%, while the share of lone-parent families increased from 15.2% to 15.8% in 2006.
  • Lone-parent families increased by 11.2% to 540,715 in 2006. Lone-father families rose faster (17.4%) than did lone-mother families (9.9%).
  • Around 4 in 5, or 81.6%, of the 540,715 lone-parent families in 2006 were headed by women.
  • In 2006, there were 17,500 same-sex couples in Ontario, which represented 0.6% of all couples. Between 2001 and 2006, the number of same-sex couples increased by 40%.

Married Couples With Children Grew the Slowest

  • The census families with the slowest growth between 2001 and 2006 were those comprised of married couples with children, up 3.5%. In contrast, common-law couples without children increased by 20.5%.
  • As a result, the proportion of married couples with children declined slightly to 44.5% in 2006 from 46.1% in 2001, while that of common-law couples without children increased to 6.1% from 5.4%.

Marital Status

  • The share of Ontario's population aged 15 and over who are married fell to 51.9% in 2006 from 53.4% in 2001.
  • However, the number of married people (legally married and not separated) aged 15 and over grew 5.5% between 2001 and 2006 (from 4.9 million to 5.2 million).
  • The 2006 Census enumerated 3.1 million unmarried Ontarians aged 15 and over (never legally married), up from 2.8 million in 2001, an increase of 12.6%. They accounted for 31.6% of the population, up from 30.4% in 2001.
  • Those separated, divorced or widowed made up 16.5% of the population in 2006, up from 16.2% in 2001.

Divorced Population Grew the Fastest

  • Over the 2001 and 2006 period, the divorced population was the fastest-growing marital status, rising 13.8%.
  • The number of divorced Ontarians aged 15 and over increased from 597,595 in 2001 to 679,990 in 2006. They represented 6.8% of the population aged 15 and over in 2006, up from 6.5% in 2001.
  • The proportion of Ontario's elderly (65+) who are divorced is relatively low. This will change as younger cohorts with higher divorce/separation rates move into this age group.

Older Men Married; Older Women Widowed

  • Older men are more likely to have a married status and older women are more likely to be widowed.
  • In Ontario, 74.5% of men aged 65 and over were married compared to 44.0% of women in 2006. Even at ages 85 and older, a majority of men were married (56.2%), while only 13.1% of women were.
  • In contrast, 42.9% of women aged 65 and over were widowed compared to 12.6% of men in 2006.
  • The gender difference in marital status results from a combination of factors: (i) women live longer than men; (ii) women tend to marry men older than themselves, which, combined with the gender difference in life expectancy, increases the chance that a women will find herself without a spouse in her older age; and (iii) older widowed men have higher remarriage rates than older widowed women.

Contact Paul Lewis (416) 325-0821 / Victor Caballero (416) 325-0825.

Office of Economic Policy
Labour and Demographic Analysis Branch

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