Upcoming Event: Families, Mobility, and Work Atlantic Canada Symposium (May 2018)

Do you work with families that are separated due to employment in oil and gas, construction, trucking, health care, forestry, the military, fishing, agriculture, education, tourism or some other type of employment? Are you part of a family impacted by this type of employment?

From May 15 to 17, 2018, the Families, Mobility, and Work Atlantic Canadian Symposium will examine intersections between diverse families, work situations and employment-related geographical mobility in the Canadian context. This event will bring together policy and civil society leaders, researchers studying families and mobility, and families directly impacted by work-related mobility to facilitate dialogue and knowledge-sharing with a focus on leading and emerging policy and practices at home, at work and in the community.

Where: University of Prince Edward Island, Charlottetown, PEI

When: Tuesday, May 15, 2018, 6:00 p.m. to Thursday, May 17, 2018, 3:30 p.m. ADT (view schedule)

Register: Eventbrite

Themes for discussion will include:

In the Home

  • What role does work-related mobility play in family planning, conception/fertility and parenthood?
  • How are parenting and child care, caregiving and elder care, or care for persons with disabilities impacted by employment-related geographical mobility? How are these care relationships impacted by extended absence due to mobility for work?
  • How does coming to Atlantic Canada for temporary work impact international labour migrants and their families who reside in their place of origin?

In the Workplace

  • How are labour and professional organizations and employers accommodating family status in response to extended absences?
  • In what ways do precarious employment or atypical work schedules combine with work-related mobility to impact the family and individual well-being of mobile workers?

In the Community

  • How does mobility impact the communities that mobile workers live in/leave from and work in/go to? How does this reverberate back to impact their families?
  • How are diverse health care professionals, community service providers, educators, spiritual advisors/faith leaders and others responding and adapting to best meet the needs of families affected by extended commuting for work?

The Symposium is being organized by the SSHRC-funded Tale of Two Islands and On the Move Partnership research projects and in collaboration with the Vanier Institute of the Family, the University of Prince Edward Island and Memorial University of Newfoundland. Funding for this event has been received through a SSHRC Connections Grant.

The On the Move Partnership is a research initiative with international links investigating workers’ extended travel and related absence from their places of permanent residence for the purpose of, and as part of, their employment. On the Move is a collaboration between the Vanier Institute of the Family and more than 40 researchers from 17 disciplines and 22 universities across Canada and internationally, working with more than 30 community partners to design and carry out research, interpret results and disseminate findings. On the Move is a project of the SafetyNet Centre for Occupational Health and Safety Research at Memorial University of Newfoundland funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), the Newfoundland and Labrador Research Development Corporation (RDC), the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) and numerous universities and partners.

Learn more about family mobility in Canada:

Published on March 9, 2018


Families in Canada: Parents Making It Work

In light of tomorrow’s federal budget release and speculation surrounding the possibility of the introduction of a new leave for second parents (paternity leave), the Vanier Institute of the Family has compiled related data and recent statistics about work, family and modern parenthood in Canada.

Below you can find up-to-date information and insights about parents in Canada and the evolving social, economic, cultural and environmental contexts that shape – and are shaped by – family life.

Women, Work and Family

  • In 2017, the labour force participation rate of women aged 25 to 54 was approximately 83%, a steady increase from only 52% in 1976.((Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey Estimates (LFS), by Sex and Detailed Age Group (CANSIM Table 282-0002) (page last updated January 5, 2017). Link: http://bit.ly/2p38FWs.))
  • In 2016, the labour force participation rate of mothers whose youngest child was under 6 was 73%, up from 36% in 1976.((Canadian Institute of Child Health, “Module 8, Section 2: Labour Force Participation Rate,” The Health of Canada’s Children and Youth: A CICH Profile (2018). Link: http://bit.ly/2oq4xyZ.))
  • In 2017, women accounted for three-quarters (74%) of part-time workers aged 25 to 54, down from 89% in 1976.((Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey Estimates (LFS), by Sex and Detailed Age Group.))
  • In 2015, 69% of couple families with children had two earners, up from 36% in 1976.((Statistics Canada, “The Rise of the Dual-Earner Family with Children,” Canadian Megatrends, Statistics Canada catalogue no. 11-630-X (May 30, 2016). Link: http://bit.ly/25wbfED.))
  • In 2015–2016, families who received both EI maternity and parental benefits used an average of 47 weeks on a family basis (of the available 50 weeks).((Employment and Social Development Canada, Employment Insurance Monitoring and Assessment Report for the Fiscal Year Beginning April 1, 2015 and Ending March 31, 2016 (May 10, 2017). Link: http://bit.ly/2GO3Xlj.))



  • In 2014, 44% of all births to first-time mothers were to women aged 30 and older, up from 28% in 1994.((Statistics Canada, Live Births, by Age and Parity of Mother, Canada (CANSIM Table 102-4508) (page last updated April 26, 2017). Link: http://bit.ly/2o4EP4D.))
  • In 2014, 35% of all births were to women aged 30 to 34, nearly triple the share in 1970 (14%).((Statistics Canada, Live Births, by Age and Parity of Mother, Canada.))
  • In 2014, 3.6% of all births were to mothers in their 40s, more than double the rate in 1994 (1.4%).((Statistics Canada, Live Births, by Age and Parity of Mother, Canada.))


New Dads and Family Relationships

  • In 2016, 30% of all recent fathers across Canada reported that they took or intended to take parental leave, up from 3% in 2000.((Statistics Canada, “Employment Insurance Coverage Survey, 2016,” The Daily (December 15, 2016). Link: http://bit.ly/2CD3nIw.)), ((Katherine Marshall, “Fathers’ Use of Paid Parental Leave,” Perspectives on Labour and Income, Statistics Canada catalogue no. 75-001-X (June 2008). Link: http://bit.ly/1UgSdfz.))
    • Much of the increase in the national rate is due to the large increase in fathers taking leave in Quebec following the introduction of the Quebec Parental Insurance Plan (QPIP) in 2006.
      • In 2016, 80% of Quebec dads reported that they claimed or intended to claim parental leave, up from 28% in 2005.((Statistics Canada, “Employment Insurance Coverage Survey, 2016.”))
      • Outside Quebec, the share of recent dads who claimed or intended to claim parental leave increased from 11% to 13% over the same period.((Statistics Canada, “Employment Insurance Coverage Survey, 2016.”)), ((Katherine Marshall.))
  • In 2015–2016, 14% of parental benefits claims made were by men.((Employment and Social Development Canada.))
  • A 2015 study found a “large and persistent impact” on gender dynamics in the three-year period following Quebec fathers’ use of paternity leave.((Ankita Patnaik, “‘Daddy’s Home!’ Increasing Men’s Use of Paternity Leave,” briefing paper prepared for the Council on Contemporary Families (April 2, 2015). Link: http://bit.ly/1Igwa0Y.))
    • Fathers who took leave were found to be more likely to do housework (and spend 23% more time doing this work).
    • Mothers were found to be more likely to engage in paid work. Under QPIP, Quebec dads also spent an average half-hour more per day at the family home than those outside of Quebec.
    • A recent Statistics Canada study found that in 2015, 41% of surveyed fathers in Quebec reported having participated in cleaning, laundry and other housework that day, higher than in other regions across Canada, which ranged from 25% to 35%.((Patricia Houle, Martin Turcotte and Michael Wendt, “Changes in Parents’ Participation in Domestic Tasks and Care for Children from 1986 to 2015,” Spotlight on Canadians: Results from the General Social Survey, Statistics Canada catalogue no.89-652-X (June 1, 2017). Link: http://bit.ly/2rJ4AZL.))


Diverse Parents

  • In 2016, there were nearly 73,000 same-sex couple families in Canada (0.9% of all couples), up 61% from 2006.
    • 12% of same-sex couples were raising children (up from 8.6% in 2001), four-fifths of whom are female couples.
    • More than 10,000 children aged 0 to 14 were being raised by same-sex couples.((Statistics Canada, “Census in Brief: Same-Sex Couples in Canada in 2016,” Analytical Products, 2016 Census (August 2, 2017). Link: http://bit.ly/2DStGc4.))

Multi-generational Households

  • In 2016, there were 404,000 multi-generational households (three generations) in Canada, accounting for 2.9% of all households.
    • 2.2 million people, or 6.3% of Canada’s population, lived in multi-generational households – up from 4% in 2001.
  • In 2016, approximately 15% of children with an immigrant background lived in a multi-generational household.((Statistics Canada, “Census in Brief: Children with an Immigrant Background: Bridging Cultures,” 2016 Census Analytical Products, Statistics Canada catalogue no. 98-200-X2016-015 (October 25, 2017).Link: http://bit.ly/2hbqCxx.))
  • In 2011…
    • 22% of Inuk (Inuit) grandparents lived with their grandchildren.
    • 14% of First Nations grandparents lived with their grandchildren.
    • 5% of Métis grandparents lived with their grandchildren.
      • This compares with 3.9% among non-Indigenous grandparents that year.((Anne Milan, Nadine Laflamme and Irene Wong, “Diversity of Grandparents Living with Their Grandchildren, 2011,” Insights on Canadian Society, Statistics Canada catalogue no. 75-006-X (April 2015). Link: http://bit.ly/2mPcug5.))


Learn more about the diversity of families in Canada:

If you would like to book an interview with Vanier Institute CEO Nora Spinks, please contact lsteele@vanierinstitute.ca.


Published on February 26, 2018

Alan Mirabelli Fund for Creativity and Innovation

Alan Mirabelli (1948–2017) was a devoted member of the Vanier Institute team for more than 30 years, where he served as Executive Director of Administration and Director of Communications. While Alan is well known for his dedicated and distinguished career of enhancing the national understanding of families in Canada, he was equally remarkable for his artistic talent, which he expressed through photography.

Alan embraced photography as a means of finding peace, exploring and nurturing his creative side, and ultimately to better knowing oneself. To him, photography was a means of “looking outward to see within,” a contemplative and meditative process that was an end in its own right but also a means of self-reflection that became increasingly important to him throughout this life until his passing.

While his photography began as a solitary passion, Alan also enjoyed collaborating with other artists (some of whom appeared in his later work) and fostering and supporting creative expression in others through his guidance and mentoring.

Artistic expression, he felt, can not only help the individual, but can also be a powerful form of knowledge translation. Information, insights and understanding can be powerfully conveyed through art, and Alan wanted to support creative and innovative forms of knowledge-sharing throughout – and even beyond – his lifetime.

To that end, the Vanier Institute’s Alan Mirabelli Fund for Creativity and Innovation has been established to increase our understanding of families and family life through creativity, innovation and artistic expression through diverse mediums and approaches.

Donate to the Alan Mirabelli Fund for Creativity and Innovation

For more information, contact Vanier Institute CEO Nora Spinks at ceo@vanierinstitute.ca or by calling (613) 724-8500 ext. 214.


“Alan was a complex combination of many things to those who knew him: friend, colleague, mentor, author, lecturer, advocate, administrator, teacher, storyteller, craftsman, artist, father, grandfather, community builder, inspirer, the conscience of a nation in regard to families and a dignified man during his life, especially so in the manner of his leaving it.”

– Al MacKay (former Board member, President and interim Executive Director of the Vanier Institute), Remembering Alan Mirabelli


Published on January 12, 2018

In Memoriam: Alan Mirabelli

It is with great sadness that we inform you that Alan Mirabelli passed away peacefully on December 20, 2017, at the age of 69.

Alan was a devoted member of the Vanier Institute staff for more than 30 years. He joined the Institute in 1975 – alongside his “partner-in-crime,” Bob Glossop – and retired in 2007 after many years as Executive Director of Administration.

In his retirement, Alan devoted much of his time to photography – one of his true passions. His work was recently showcased at an exhibit in his beloved town of Almonte, Ontario, demonstrating his attention to detail, his love of nature and his soulful expression behind the lens.

Alan was a dear friend, colleague and mentor. He will be greatly missed by many. His contributions and legacy at the Vanier Institute of the Family will live on forever.

A celebration of life will be held for Alan Mirabelli on Saturday, January 20, 2018 at 2:00 p.m. at the First Unitarian Church (30 Cleary Ave., Ottawa, Ontario).

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Alan Mirabelli Fund for Creativity and Innovation, the Almonte Club Hospice, or a charity of your choice that brings you joy and happiness.


Published on December 21, 2017

Vanier Institute Taking Over from Caledon Institute to Produce “Policy Monitors”

The Caledon Institute of Social Policy wound down its day-to-day operations in November 2017 as its co-founder and president Ken Battle entered retirement. For 25 years, Caledon was a leader in the development of evidence- and data-based Canadian social policy.

The Caledon Institute was launched in 1992 in partnership with the Maytree Foundation. That organization’s website now hosts Caledon’s social policy research archive.

An important Caledon publication series, Policy Monitors, will be produced and managed by the Vanier Institute of the Family on a trial basis in 2018.((During this trial, this resource will continue to be available in English only.)) These resources provide detailed and searchable overviews of policy announcements at the federal, provincial/territorial and municipal levels.

The Vanier Institute team is excited to work on the Policy Monitors series with Anne Makhoul, formerly Caledon’s Principal Project Officer, who will continue to manage this resource.

Published on December 18, 2017