Flexible, Accessible and Inclusive: Benefit for Parents of Young Victims of Crime

When children become victims of crime, families experience their worst nightmare. They often miss work, leave the paid labour force and/or experience financial strain. In response, the Federal Income Support for Parents of Murdered or Missing Children (PMMC) was introduced in 2013.

On May 25, 2018, Employment and Social Development Canada announced changes aimed at enhancing support for families experiencing the death or disappearance of a child. The existing program (PMMC) will be renamed the Canadian Benefit for Parents of Young Victims of Crime and extended to include more families and provide working parents with greater flexibility in accessing and utilizing this benefit.

Changes to the program include:

  • Increasing the weekly grant/benefit payment from $350 to $450
  • Raising the age limit of the young victim from under 18 to under 25
  • Doubling the period in which recipients can receive the grant from 52 to 104 weeks
  • Allowing grant recipients to continue working up to 50% of their regular weekly hours (up to 20 hours per week)
  • Eliminating the requirement that parents attest that their child was not a willing party to the crime if their child is under age 14


Learn more about the Canadian Benefit for Parents of Young Victims of Crime. 

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


Published on May 25, 2018

Changes to the Divorce Act Aim to Strengthen the Canadian Family Justice System

On May 23, 2018, the federal government tabled legislation that would make changes to the Divorce Act to strengthen the Canadian family justice system. Bill C-78 includes (but is not limited to) modernizing language to be less adversarial (e.g. changing “access” to “parenting time”); establishing criteria that help define the “best interests of the child”; encouraging the use of resolution services such as mediation instead of courts; giving courts measures to address family violence; establishing guidelines for when one parent wants to relocate with a child; and making it easier for parents to collect support payments.

Statistics on divorce and families in Canada (most recent data available):

  • In 2017, an estimated 9.0% of Canadians aged 15+ were divorced or separated (not living common-law), nearly double the rate in 1977 (4.5%).((Statistics Canada, Estimates of Population, by Marital Status or Legal Marital Status, Age and Sex for July 1, Canada, Provinces and Territories (CANSIM Table 051-0042), (page last updated November 7, 2017). Link: http://bit.ly/2lSqvbR.))
  • Among the 5 million Canadians separated or divorced between 1991 and 2011, 4 in 10 (38%) had a child together at the time of their separation or divorce.((Government of Canada, Government of Canada Announces New Measures to Strengthen and Modernize Family Justice (news release) (page last updated May 22, 2018). Link: https://bit.ly/2LhOZa5.))
  • In 2016, more than 1 million children of separated or divorced parents were living in lone-parent families (most commonly with their mothers), which are more likely to have low income.((Government of Canada, 2018.))
  • In 2011, two-thirds of divorced Canadians said they do not have remarriage intentions (23% said they were uncertain).((Statistics Canada, Distribution of People Who Intend to Marry or Remarry by De Facto Marital Status and Region of Residence, Canada, 2011 (GSS Table 1) (page last updated November 30, 2015). Link: https://bit.ly/16l8BVW))
  • In 2010–2011, 8 in 10 active divorce cases (80%) in reporting jurisdictions were uncontested, with the remaining 20% being contested or disputed cases.((Uncontested divorces are those in which the divorcing couple agrees on all issues (e.g. support and child custody/access arrangements), and as a result are significantly quicker to finalize; the median length of uncontested cases in 2010–2011 was 120 days (3 months), compared with 490 days (16 months) for contested cases.)), ((Mary Bess Kelly, “Divorce Cases in Civil Court, 2010/2011,” Juristat, Statistics Canada catalogue no. 85-002-X (March 2012). Link: http://bit.ly/18tCSOo.))

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

Learn more about the upcoming changes to the Divorce Act.


Learn more about divorce, separation and uncoupling from the Vanier Institute:


Hear Vanier Institute CEO Nora Spinks discuss divorce law changes in Canada:

  • CBC Ontario Morning Interview (May 23, 2018)

Published on May 25, 2018

In Focus: Senior Caregivers in Canada

Caregiving is a part of family life, and family caregivers play a crucial role in providing, arranging and sometimes paying for care for their loved ones. While there has been progress over the past decade in recognizing and celebrating the importance and impact of Canada’s 8.1 million caregivers, senior caregivers are often overlooked in the narrative despite accounting for more than 1 in 8 caregivers in 2012.((Maire Sinha, “Portrait of Caregivers, 2012,” Spotlight on Canadians: Results from the General Social Survey, Statistics Canada catalogue no. 89-652-X (September 2013). Link: http://bit.ly/1jxgAAm.))

Senior caregivers make unique and valuable contributions to family caregiving in Canada, though they can also have unique needs resulting from their advanced age. It can be a complex caregiving experience, as many provide care while managing their other responsibilities in workplaces and communities across the country (sometimes while receiving care themselves).

Seniors make significant contributions to caregiving in Canada((Learn more in A Snapshot of Family Caregiving and Work in Canada.))

  • In 2012, nearly 1 million seniors in Canada (966,000) provided care to a family member or friend with a long-term health condition, disability or aging need (12% of all caregivers).((Sinha, 2012.))
  • In 2012, senior caregivers were most likely to spend the longest hours per week providing care, partly due to their higher likelihood of caring for a spouse (spouses typically require greater time commitments for care).((Sinha, 2012.))
    • Nearly one-quarter (23%) of senior caregivers provided 20 or more hours of care per week, approximately twice the rate of carers aged 45 to 54 (13%) and young carers aged 15 to 24 (10%).((Sinha, 2012.))

Many senior caregivers balance their caregiving with paid work and volunteering((Learn more in Modern Family Finances: Seniors in Canada and Modern Family Finances: Income in Canada.))

  • In 2017, 14.2% of seniors were in the paid labour market (18.7% of men, 10.4% of women), more than double the rate in 2000 (6%).((Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey Estimates (LFS), by Sex and Detailed Age Group (CANSIM Table 282-0002), page last updated January 4, 2018. Link: http://bit.ly/2p38FWs.))
  • In 2015, one in five (19.8%) seniors in Canada (1.1 million) worked at some point – nearly twice the rate in 1995 (10.1%). Men were more likely than women to report having worked at some point that year (25.7% and 14.6%, respectively).((Statistics Canada, “Census in Brief: Working Seniors in Canada,” Analytical Products, 2016 Census, Statistics Canada catalogue no. 98-200-X-2016027 (November 29, 2017). Link: http://bit.ly/2AIjwMn.))

Caregiving can have an impact on the well-being of senior carers

  • Research shows that caregiving can have a positive impact on the well-being of caregivers themselves, providing them with a sense of personal growth and renewed meaning and purpose in life, assurance and greater awareness of the care being provided, and a sense of “giving back” to someone who has cared for them.((American Psychological Association, “Positive Aspects of Caregiving,” Public Interest Directorate Reports (January 2011). Link: http://bit.ly/1KMuMRA.))
  • Caregiving can also have a negative impact on the well-being of caregivers. Nearly 3 in 10 people (28%) who provided care in 2012 said that they found it “somewhat or very” stressful, and 1 in 5 (19%) said that their “physical and emotional health suffered” as a result of their caregiving responsibilities.((Sinha, 2012.))

Download In Focus: Senior Caregivers in Canada.

The Vanier Institute of the Family is a national, independent, charitable organization dedicated to understanding the diversity and complexity of families and the reality of family life in Canada. The Institute offers access to a range of publications, research initiatives, presentations and social media content to enhance the national understanding of how families interact with, have an impact on and are affected by social, economic, environmental and cultural forces.

Learn more about family caregiving in Canada:

Learn more about seniors and family relationships in Canada:

Published on March 29, 2018

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


Modern Family Finances: Income in Canada (January 2018)

Much like families themselves, family finances in Canada is a topic characterized by diversity, complexity and perpetual evolution. Family income is no exception. 2016 Census data shows that households across Canada receive income from a variety of sources, and these economic arrangements change over time as families adapt and react to social, economic, cultural and environmental forces.

The complex and multi-faceted nature of family finances can make it a difficult topic to fully comprehend. No measure of family finances exists in isolation, and all are interconnected: if a family’s income is too low, then it may be impossible for them to build savings; if expenses are too high, debt may be just around the corner; if debt is too high, it can reduce family wealth – and so on. However, much can be learned about the whole of finances by examining the topic through a family lens.

Every family household has its own unique constellation of income sources that they manage to fulfill their obligations at home and in their communities. These arrangements typically aren’t static – they evolve throughout the life cycle as family circumstances change, along with the resources available to them.

To explore this topic in further detail, the Vanier Institute has published Modern Family Finances: Income in Canada (January 2018).

Highlights include:

  • In 2015, the total median household income in Canada was approximately $70,300 before taxes ($61,300 after taxes), and $34,200 before taxes (just under $30,900 after taxes) for individuals.
  • Household income included revenue from a variety of sources, including employment income (approximately 71% of Canadians received employment income), investments (30%), CPP/QPP benefits (23%), OAS/GIS benefits (18%), the Canada Child Tax Benefit (11%), Employment Insurance benefits (9%), social assistance (5%) and more.
  • Incomes are lower than the national average and low-income rates are higher for women; First Nations, Inuk (Inuit) and Métis people; immigrants (particularly for recent immigrants and non-permanent residents); visible minorities; and persons living with disabilities.
  • In 2015, nearly one-third (32%) of married or common-law couples in Canada received “fairly equal” incomes, although, on average, women earned an estimated $0.87 for every dollar earned by men.
  • Debt is consuming a smaller share of household income than in previous decades, with the share of income devoted to servicing the interest on household debt falling from 10.8% in 1991 to 6.4% in 2015.
  • One in five (19.8%) seniors in Canada (1.1M) reported that they worked at some point in 2015 – nearly twice the rate recorded in 1995 (10.1%).
  • Many Canadians of all ages plan to keep working to ensure sufficient income as seniors, with more than one-third (36%) reporting in 2014 that ongoing employment earnings are a part of their financial retirement plan.

Income in Canada is a part of the Vanier Institute’s Modern Family Finances series, which addresses particular topics such as income and expenditures; savings and debt; and wealth and net worth. Subsequent editions in this series will focus on unique experiences such as family finances among military and Veteran families, families on the move, and families living with disability.

This bilingual resource 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.

Download Modern Family Finances: Income in Canada from the Vanier Institute of the Family.

Learn more about family finances in Canada:


Published on January 30, 2018