The reality in Canada today is that a fairly large proportion of married couples will end up becoming divorced. Additionally, a fairly large proportion of these divorced couples, with or without children, will end up re-establishing themselves in a step, or blended, family. So, with all of this re-arrangement occurring, the question to ask is: what do we know about the composition of blended families in Canada?

Statistics Canada recently released a report on this very subject called: Portrait of Families and Living Arrangements in Canada. Stepfamilies were counted for the very first time in the 2011 census, and this report allows us some insight into the various stepfamily arrangements that currently exist in our country.

According to this report, stepfamilies are couple families where there is at least one child whose birth or adoption preceded the current relationship. Of the 3,684,675 couples with children, 87.4% were intact families — that is, they were comprised of two parents and their biological or adopted children — and 12.6% were stepfamilies. In total, 557,950 children aged 14 and under lived in stepfamilies in 2011.

In the study, stepfamilies were classified as either simple or complex. In a simple stepfamily, all children are the biological or adopted children of one, and only one, married spouse or common-law partner. A complex stepfamily consists of any of the following:

  • Families in which there is at least one child of both parents and at least one child of only one parent
  • Families in which there is at least one child of each parent and no children of both parents
  • Families in which there is at least one child of both parents and at least one child of each parent

In 2011, 7.4% of couples with children were simple stepfamilies while 5.2% were complex stepfamilies.

Compared to intact families, a smaller proportion of stepfamilies were comprised of married couples. In 2011, 49.9% of stepfamilies were married compared to 86.0% of intact families. Complex stepfamilies were more likely to be married couples (55.5%) than were simple stepfamilies (46.0%).



Article courtesy BC Council for the Family
by Pilar Onatra


Young Parent Outreach is a dynamic resource program providing services and support to young pregnant women, young moms and dads, and their children in the Greater Victoria area.

These services – provided by The Cridge Centre for the Family – are designed to give young pregnant women and young moms and dads the help and support network they need to have healthy babies and to be effective, successful parents. Whether it’s housing, income assistance, food back or dealing with child custody or substance abuse, The Cridge Young Parent Outreach program can help.