Statistics Canada
Symbol of the Government of Canada
Warning View the most recent version.

Archived Content

Information identified as archived is provided for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It is not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards and has not been altered or updated since it was archived. Please contact us to request a format other than those available.

2006 Census: Family portrait: Continuity and change in Canadian families and households in 2006: Provinces and territories

Quebec: More than one-third of couples live common-law

The prevalence of common-law unions in Quebec is one of the defining family patterns in this province, and this trend has continued between 2001 and 2006.

The census enumerated 2,121,600 census families in Quebec. Of these, 611,900 consisted of common-law-couple families, a 20.3% increase from 2001.

Common-law-couple families in Quebec represented 44.4% of the national total. The closest other province was Ontario, where common-law-couple families accounted for only 25.5% of the national total.

Within Quebec, common-law couples represented one-third (34.6%) of all couples in the province, much higher than the other provinces and territories (13.4%). The proportion was also far above several other countries for which recent data were available such as Sweden (25.4%), Finland (23.9%), New Zealand (23.7%) and Denmark (22.2%).1

Table 8 Proportion of common-law couples in Quebec higher than in Canada and in other selected countries

The popularity of common-law unions in Quebec is rooted in the Quiet Revolution. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, a new 'mode de vie' emerged in Quebec which reflected a declining influence of the Catholic church on family life. At the same time, greater access to contraception, the women's movement, and more liberal divorce laws contributed to the decline in marriage and the growth of common-law unions in Quebec.2

Consequently, the proportion of married-couple families was much lower in Quebec. Married couples represented 54.5% of census families in Quebec in 2006, the lowest proportion among the provinces, and well below the national average of 68.6%. Lone parents accounted for 16.6% of families.

Between 2001 and 2006, the number of census families increased 5.1% in Quebec, lower than the national average (+6.3%).

The census counted 13,700 same-sex couples in Quebec, 30.2% of all same-sex couples in Canada. These same-sex couples in Quebec represented 0.8% of all couples in the province, the highest proportion in the country. Along with British Columbia (0.7%), these were the only two provinces that surpassed the national average of 0.6%.

Table 9 Distribution of same-sex couples by conjugal status, Canada, provinces and territories, 2006

Quebec was the third province to legalize same-sex marriage in March 2004. Of the 13,700 same-sex couples in Quebec, 1,300, or 9.2%, were married couples. This proportion is below the national average of 16.5% which may reflect the greater popularity of common-law unions in general for all couples in the province.

The census counted 3,189,300 private households in Quebec in 2006. Of these, 30.7% were one-person households, the second highest proportion in Canada.

The number of one-person households in Quebec increased 11.3% between 2001 and 2006, while the number of households comprised of couples without children rose 13.2%. On the other hand, the number of households with couples and children declined 2.8%.

previous gif  Previous page | Table of contents | Next page  next gif