Infographic: Women, Caregiving and Work in Canada

Caregiving is a fact of life and a common family experience in Canada. At some point in their lives, most family members have provided – or will provide – care to a family member or friend with a long-term health condition, disability or aging need. However, Canadians don’t share a single narrative or caregiving experience, as social, economic, cultural and environmental factors shape who is expected to provide care, what kind of care they provide and the consequences of managing caregiving in addition to paid work.

And while the gap between women and men has lessened over the past generation, caregivers have historically been disproportionately women, and this remains true today. Research also shows that on average, women in Canada devote more time to caregiving tasks than men and are more likely to experience negative consequences as a result of their caregiving.

Our new infographic Women, Caregiving and Work in Canada explores family caregiving and work in Canada with a focus on women.

Highlights include:

  • 30% of all women in Canada reported that they provided care in 2012.
  • Women aged 45 and older reported having spent an estimated 5.8 years providing care throughout their lives, compared with 3.4 years for men.
  • Women are significantly more likely than men to report having spent 20 hours or more per week providing care (17% and 11%, respectively).
  • An estimated 72% of women caregivers aged 45 to 65 in Canada are also employed.
  • Women reported experiencing a variety of employment impacts as a result of their caregiving responsibilities: 30% reported missing at least one full day of work; 6.4% retired early, quit or lost their paid job; and 4.7% turned down a job offer or promotion.
  • Estimates show that women caregivers in Canada lost an aggregated $221 million in wages annually between 2003 and 2008 due to absenteeism, reducing work hours or leaving employment entirely.
  • Among women caregivers who have access to flexible work arrangements, half (47%) feel they cannot utilize these options without it having a negative impact on their careers.


Download the Women, Caregiving and Work in Canada infographic from the Vanier Institute of the Family.


Learn more about women, family caregiving and work in Canada:


Published on March 28, 2017

A Snapshot of Family Caregiving and Work in Canada

At some point in our lives, there is a high likelihood that each of us will provide care to someone we know – and receive care ourselves. Family members are typically the first to step up to provide, manage and sometimes pay for this care.

Families are highly adaptable and most of the time people find ways to manage their multiple work and family responsibilities, obligations and commitments. However, juggling work and care can sometimes involve a great deal of time, energy and financial resources, and employers can play an important role in facilitating this care through accommodation, innovation and flexibility.

In A Snapshot of Family Caregiving and Work in Canada, we explore some of the family realities and trends that shape the “landscape of care” across the country. This resource highlights how our family, care and work responsibilities intersect, interact and have an impact on each other.

Highlights include:

  • 28% of Canadians (8.1M) report having provided care to a family member or friend with a long-term health condition, disability or aging need in the past year.
  • Three-quarters of family caregivers (6.1M) were employed at the time, accounting for 35% of ALL employed Canadians.
  • Most (83%) surveyed caregivers say their experience was positive, and 95% say they are effectively coping with their caregiving responsibilities.
  • 44% of employed caregivers report having missed an average 8–9 days of work in the past 12 months because of their care responsibilities.
  • More than one-third of young carers (36%) arrived to work late, left early or took time off due to their caregiving responsibilities.
  • Employers across Canada lose an estimated $5.5 billion annually in lost productivity due to caregiving-related absenteeism.
  • Research shows that caregiving provides a variety of benefits to caregivers, including a sense of personal growth, increased meaning and purpose, strengthened family relationships, increased empathy and skill development.


Reconciling care and work requires understanding, respect and recognition from employers that sometimes an employee’s family circumstances need focused attention. Research shows that family caregivers and their employers benefit from policies that are inclusive, flexible and responsive, and when employees have a clear understanding of the process for handling individual requests for accommodation and customizing work arrangements.

For nearly all Canadians, caregiving is inevitable at some point over the course of their lives. Care is not always predictable and does not always arise outside working hours. Open communication and creative approaches to harmonizing work and care in a flexible manner benefits employees, employers, the economy and society.

Download A Snapshot of Family Caregiving and Work in Canada from the Vanier Institute of the Family.


Learn more about family caregiving and work in Canada:


Published on February 21, 2017

A Snapshot of Military and Veteran Families in Canada

Canada’s military and Veteran families are diverse, resilient and strong, and they are a great source of pride for the country. They engage with – and play important roles in – their workplaces, communities and the country at large.

Like all families, military and Veteran families access a variety of programs and services in their communities, including (but not limited to) child care and eldercare, health and mental health, community recreation and leisure, and education and employment. However, these programs and services are often delivered by professionals and practitioners who have little or no understanding of, or experience with, military and Veteran families.

This lack of military literacy – awareness of the unique experiences of military and Veteran families and the “military life stressors” (mobility, separation and risk) that affect them – can result in negative experiences for both service providers and the families they seek to support.

To enhance the understanding of military and Veteran families, the Vanier Institute has published A Snapshot of Military and Veteran Families in Canada – the third in our new series of publications providing statistical analyses of diverse family experiences and the social, economic, cultural and environmental contexts that shape family life.

Highlights include:

  • Canada is home to 108,000 members of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) and more than 600,000 CAF Veterans.
  • In the mid-1990s, 80% of military families in Canada lived on a base, whereas 85% live off-base today.
  • There are more than 64,000 children growing up in military families in Canada.
  • Four in 10 military families with children rely on or need non-parental child care; 30% of these families report experiencing difficulties finding adequate care.
  • More than half of surveyed CAF spouses agree that “military children are at a disadvantage because civilian public schools do not understand military life.”
  • Between 21% and 27% of military families in Canada report that they do not have a primary care physician for themselves or their children, compared with 15% of the general population.
  • CAF personnel report spending a quarter of their time away from home on military-related duties.
  • More than one-quarter (27%) of surveyed CAF spouses report that they have relocated at least 4 times due to military postings.
  • More than half (51%) of surveyed CAF spouses say they’ve made some career sacrifices as a result of their partner’s military service.


Download A Snapshot of Military and Veteran Families in Canada from the Vanier Institute of the Family.


Suggested reading:

Military and Veteran Families in Canada: Collaborations and Partnerships Compendium 1.0

Building Inclusive Communities for Canada’s Military and Veteran Families

The Current State of Military Family Research


A Snapshot of Workplace Mental Health in Canada

At some point in our lives, we are all affected by mental illness, whether through personal experience or that of a family member, friend, neighbour or colleague. Mental health conditions can have a significant impact on individuals, but they can also “trickle up” to have a detrimental effect on workplaces, communities, the economy and society at large – no one remains untouched. It is therefore vital that support for mental health be multi-faceted and every bit as prevalent as the conditions it seeks to address.

Stigma remains a major barrier to care for those living with a mental illness, many of whom are receiving, and benefiting from, care and support from their families.

This edition of the Vanier Institute of the Family Statistical Snapshots series explores mental health, families and work – three key parts of our lives that intersect and interact in complex ways that affect our well-being.
Highlights include:

  • 4 in 10 Canadians have a family member with a mental health problem.
  • At least 500,000 employed Canadians are unable to work due to mental health problems in any given week.
  • Mental illness accounts for an estimated 30% of all disability claims and 70% of disability costs.
  • Stigma remains an issue, with 1 in 5 surveyed Canadian employees saying they believe that whether or not someone becomes mentally ill is “fully within their control.”
  • 4 in 10 surveyed Canadian employees say they would not tell their manager if they were experiencing a mental health problem.
  • More than 7 in 10 Canadians who are affected by a family member’s mental health problem provided care to them, and 68% say they are not embarrassed about their family member’s mental health condition.


Download A Snapshot of Workplace Mental Health from the Vanier Institute of the Family.


Suggested reading:

Putting the “F” in EFAP: The Evolution of Workplace Mental Health Supports

A Little Support Can Go a Long Way: Reflections on Depression and Anxiety

Disability and Employment in Canada


Published on Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Students and Family Finances in Canada

Family decisions surrounding post-secondary education can have a significant impact on the lives of young adults and their families. A university degree can open doors to employment and the possibility of higher earnings for younger generations, and be a step toward personal fulfillment for those who want to expand their horizons.

However, education isn’t cheap – the costs associated with post-secondary education are continually rising and often result in debt that can, in turn, close certain doors for students down the road. Families demonstrate a great deal of flexibility in managing their finances to support educational pursuits and adapt their aspirations to provide support.

To explore this aspect of family finances, the Vanier Institute of the Family has published the Students and Family Finances in Canada infographic. This resource brings together statistics and survey findings to examine families’ thoughts about post-secondary education and family finances, as well as the diverse ways they support higher learning.

  • Average annual university tuition fees for undergraduate students across Canada now stand at nearly $6,400, a 2.8% increase from the 2015–2016 academic year (nearly $24,000 for international students).
  • Graduating university students in Canada with debt report an average debt load of $27,000.
  • Nearly one-quarter of graduating university students (23%) say that debt discourages them from pursuing further education.
  • 8 in 10 surveyed parents with a child in university say they’re funding their child’s education, two-thirds of whom rely on day-to-day income to provide this funding.
  • More than 4 in 10 surveyed parents say that funding their children’s education is more important than contributing to their own retirement savings.


Download the Students and Family Finances in Canada infographic.


Suggested reading:

Family Finances: Investments in Education

A Snapshot of Grandparents in Canada

Canada’s grandparents are a diverse and evolving group, many of whom contribute greatly to family functioning and well-being in their roles as mentors, nurturers, caregivers, child care providers, historians, spiritual guides and “holders of the family narrative.”

As Canada’s population ages and life expectancy continues to rise, their presence in the lives of many families may also increase accordingly in the years to come. With the number of older Canadians in the workforce steadily increasing, they are playing a greater role in the paid labour market – a shift felt by families who rely on grandparents to help provide care to their grandchildren or other family members. All the while, the living arrangements of grandparents continue to evolve, with a growing number living with younger generations and contributing to family households.

To explore the evolving role and family experiences of grandparents in Canada, the Vanier Institute of the Family has published A Snapshot of Grandparents in Canada – the first in our new Statistical Snapshots series, which provides statistical analyses of family experiences and the social, economic, cultural and environmental contexts that shape family life.

  • Canada is home to more than 7.1 million grandparents – an increase of 25%, compared with the overall population growth of 12% during the same period.
  • Life expectancy at age 65 in Canada has increased over the past 50 years by 5.7 years for women and by 5.6 years for men – representing a growing amount of time for potential intergenerational relationship-building in families.
  • Nearly 600,000 grandparents live in the same household as their grandchildren, more than half of whom report having financial responsibilities in the household.
  • More than 13% of seniors in Canada are in the paid labour market, nearly double the rate from 30 years ago (7%).


Download A Snapshot of Grandparents in Canada from the Vanier Institute of the Family.


Suggested reading:

Intergenerational Relations and Societal Change

Fact Sheet: Seniors and Family Finances in Canada

Sharing a Roof: Multi-generational Homes in Canada

Working Seniors in Canada

Fact Sheet: Seniors and Family Finances in Canada

Canada’s population is rapidly aging, which means a growing number of seniors across the country are managing household finances in an evolving and often uncertain economic climate. In this context, many are choosing to remain in – or return to – the paid labour market to manage their financial responsibilities, while others focus on other income sources to meet their needs.

As seniors and their families adapt their financial management strategies and their aspirations in response to this ever-changing environment, they in turn are reshaping workplaces, retirement and the economy at large.

To explore the relationship between seniors and family finances, we’ve created a fact sheet that gathers statistics from a variety of sources about seniors and their economic well-being, including data about employment, income, retirement and debt among this age group.

This resource will continue to be updated as new research and data emerges (previous versions will be continually available on our fact sheets page).


Download the Seniors and Family Finances in Canada fact sheet.

House and Home in Canada (2016 Update)

Home is at the heart of family life, the primary setting in which our family relationships are built and nurtured throughout our lives, and the stage on which so many of our family memories are created.

Our relationships with our homes are shaped by the evolving social, economic and cultural contexts in which we live, and where we choose to call home can change over time as we adapt our expectations and aspirations to these ever-changing environments.

To further explore the relationship between families and their homes, we’ve updated our House and Home in Canada fact sheet with new data that’s been made available since its initial publication.

This resource will continue to be updated as new research and data emerges (previous versions will be continually available on our fact sheets page).

Download the House and Home in Canada (2016 Update) fact sheet.

Timeline: Fifty Years of Men, Work and Family in Canada

Over the past half century, fatherhood in Canada has undergone a significant evolution as men are increasingly sharing the “breadwinning” role, embracing caring responsibilities and integrating their responsibilities at home, at work and in their communities.

To explore these trends and the social, economic, cultural and environmental contexts that shape – and are shaped by – fatherhood and family relationships, we’ve created a 50-year timeline for Father’s Day 2016. Some highlights include:

  • More fathers are taking time off to care for their newborn children. More than one-quarter (27%) of all recent fathers in Canada reported in 2014 that they took (or intended to take) parental leave, up from only 3% in 2000.
  • The number of “stay-at-home” fathers is on the rise. Fathers accounted for approximately 11% of stay-at-home parents in 2014, up from only 1% in 1976.
  • Fathers of young children are absent from work more frequently for family-related reasons. Fathers of children under the age of 5 report missing an average 2.0 days of work in 2015 due to personal or family responsibilities, up from 1.2 days in 2009.
  • Fewer “lone fathers” are living in low income. In 2008, 7% of persons in lone-parent families headed by men lived in low income, down from 18% in 1976.
  • Fathers are increasingly helping with housework. Men who report performing household work devoted an average 184 minutes on these tasks in 2010, up from 171 minutes in 1998.
  • Fathers with flex are more satisfied with their work–life balance. More than eight in 10 (81%) full-time working fathers with children under age 18 who have a flexible schedule reported in 2012 being satisfied with their work–life balance, compared with 76% for those without a flexible schedule.
  • A growing number of children find it easier to talk to dad. In 2013–2014, 66% of 11-year-old girls and 75% of boys the same age say they find it easy to talk to their father about things that really bother them, up from 56% and 72%, respectively, two decades earlier.

This bilingual resource is a perpetual publication, and it will be updated periodically as new data emerges. Sign up for our monthly e-newsletter to find out about updates, as well as other news about publications, projects and initiatives from the Vanier Institute.

Enjoy our new timeline, and happy Father’s Day to Canada’s 8.6 million dads!

Download the Fifty Years of Men, Work and Family in Canada timeline.




See also:

Timeline: Fifty Years of Women, Work and Family in Canada

Timeline: Fifty Years of Families in Canada

Families and Work in Canada by Nora Spinks and Nathan Battams

Infographic: Family Diversity in Canada 2016

International Day of Families is approaching on May 15, a special day to recognize the importance of family to communities across the globe. Parents, children, grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings, cousins and the friends and neighbours we care for (and who care for us) all make unique and valuable contributions to our lives, our workplaces and our communities.

As we reflect on Canada’s 9.9 million families, one thing that’s clear is that there’s no such thing as a cookie-cutter family. Families are as diverse and unique as the people who comprise them, and they are all an essential part of Canada’s family landscape.

For this year’s International Day of Families, we’ve created an infographic providing a “snapshot” of modern families in Canada that highlights some of the many ways families are diverse:

  • 67% of families in Canada are married-couple families, 17% are living common-law, and 16% are lone-parent families – diverse family structures that continuously evolve
  • 464,000 stepfamilies live across the country, accounting for 13% of couples with children
  • 363,000 households contain three or more generations, and there are also approximately 53,000 “skip-generation” homes (children and grandparents with no middle generation present)
  • 1.4 million people in Canada report having an Aboriginal identity (61% First Nations, 32% Métis, 4.2% Inuit, 1.9% other Aboriginal identity, 0.8% more than one Aboriginal identity)
  • 360,000 couples in Canada are mixed unions,* accounting for 4.6% of all married and common-law couples
  • 65,000 same-sex couples were counted in the 2011 Census, 9.4% of whom are raising children
  • 68,000 people in Canada are in the CAF Regular Forces, half of whom have children under 18


As His Excellency The Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, expressed at the Families in Canada Conference 2015, “Families, no matter their background or their makeup, bring new and special patterns to our diverse Canadian tapestry.” Join us as we recognize and celebrate family diversity, from coast to coast to coast.


Download the Family Diversity in Canada 2016 infographic.


* Statistics Canada defines a mixed union as “a couple in which one spouse or partner belongs to a visible minority group and the other does not, as well as a couple in which the two spouses or partners belong to different visible minority groups.”


Suggested Reading

What’s in a Name? Defining Family in a Diverse Society by Alan Mirabelli

Timeline: 50 Years of Families in Canada