Families and households

The topic of Families and households provides information on the living arrangements of people in Canada, their family size and composition, the number of children living with one parent or two parents and the number of people who live alone. These data are considered important to understand and follow the evolution of family dynamics and transitions.

Examples of reported data usesFootnote1


At the federal level, it was reported that families and households data are used in support the Official Languages Act. A number of laws including the National Housing Act and the Canada Agriculture Products Act also have program monitoring and/or performance reporting activities requiring data from this topic.

Alberta's Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act, Child Care Licensing Act, Protection Against Family Violence Act, and Family Support for Children with Disabilities Act, Ontario's Family Responsibility and Support Arrears Enforcement Act, 1996, S.O. 1996, c. 31, Quebec's Loi sur le ministère de la Famille, des Aînés et de la Condition féminine (L.R.Q., c. M-17.2) and Loi sur l'aide aux personnes et aux familles (L.R.Q., chapitre A-13.1.1) are among the examples of legislative uses received from provincial governments during consultation for this topic.

It was reported that families and households data are used by local governments for policy development and program monitoring, among other activities, in relation to the Ontario Places to Grow Act, R.S.O. 2005. They are used by the City of Toronto to inform the provision of services under the City of Toronto Act and for the development charges by-law.

Resource allocation and service delivery

These data are used for resource allocation and/or service delivery by Employment and Social Development Canada's (ESDC)Footnote2 Persons with Disabilities Working Group and by Status of Women Canada for their Women's Program.

Among the uses contributed by provincial and territorial governments, these data support resource allocation and/or service delivery of full day kindergarten and child care, social services, and programs associated with literacy and basic skills, and healthy aging and seniors. Examples of uses received at the local level comprise planning and resource allocation for programs such as affordable housing development and repair including Canada-Ontario Affordable Housing Program, the Residential Rehabilitation Assistance Program and related municipal programs. These results are also used to determine the need for subsidies and for community outreach programs.

Planning, development, monitoring, evaluation and performance reports

Family data are used for policy or program requirements related to the Canada Pension Plan, Old Age Security and Employment Insurance. The Public Health Agency of Canada refers to families and household data, more specifically the presence of children in a household for the Canada Prenatal Nutrition Program, Community Action Program for Children and Aboriginal Head Start in Urban and Northern Communities Program. Other examples include by Finance Canada's Federal-Provincial Relations and Social Policy Branch for federal-provincial transfer policy and social policy development, by ESDC for income security and child development policies, and by Parks Canada for visitor experience operations.

Uses submitted by provincial and territorial governments for this topic include assessing the need and eligibility for social services programs, planning for transportation, emergency response, day care centres, schools and long-term care, producing environmental scans, and monitoring and evaluating the Ontario Crime Stoppers program and Victim Safety Project.

As reported during consultation, local government participants rely on these data for municipal and regional transportation models, municipal development plans, regional program plans in Ontario such as regional strategic plans and, for the Community Action Plan for Housing, the Affordable Housing Strategy and for the Homelessness to Housing Stability Strategy. Other examples at the local level include to determine water usage and waste disposal needs, inform land budgets and for urban and economic planning.

Research and other uses

With results from this topic, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation maintains the Potential Housing Demand, which consists of long-term household projections, and produces publications such as the Canadian Housing Observer report. Provincial/territorial and local governments make use of these data for modelling and forecasting activities.

It was reported by non-government organizations that these data are consulted for the delivery of services and programs in the areas of health, family and child care, some of which are geared to single-parent households and seniors living alone. They are used to determine housing needs and demands, and to monitor living conditions in order to elaborate policy/programs for adequate housing. They are also included in proposals for funding and are spatially analysed (mapped) by neighbourhood for community planning.

Participants from the business sector indicated that families and households data are used for capital investment decisions, target marketing, profiling of trade and service areas and for weighting surveys.

Other examples include:

  • Inputs into aging and care micro simulations to inform family policy
  • Analysis of family characteristics in relation to labour market dynamics/educational paths
  • For applied microeconomics.
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