Father’s Day 2023: Changing Roles, Changing Profiles

A roundup of stats about dads in Canada in advance of Father’s Day 2023

June 15, 2023

Nathan Battams

Fatherhood in Canada has evolved across generations as men adapt and react to social, economic, and cultural change. While mothers continue to provide care and perform household work at higher rates than fathers in families with children, fathers today have, on average, “stepped up” compared with a generation ago. Experiences of fatherhood have become increasingly diverse, with a growing number being part of same-gender couples, and more fathers leading one-parent households.

Compared with several decades ago…

  • Fathers are less likely than in previous generations to fulfill a “breadwinner” role exclusively. In 2020, nearly seven in 10 single earner families with children (69%) had fathers as the sole earner, down from 78% in 2000.1 This coincides with an increase in the proportion of “stay-at-home”2 parents that were fathers, which grew by more than sevenfold between 1976 and 2015 (the most recent year available for this data), from 1.4% to 10.7%.3
  • More new dads are taking parental leave to care for their newborn children. This is particularly true in Quebec, where the percentage of new fathers reporting that they took (or intended to take) parental leave almost tripled from 28% in 2005 to 77% in 2021. This increase was largely the result of the introduction of the Quebec Parental Insurance Plan (QPIP) in 2007. QPIP provides more generous benefits and a paternity leave available only to fathers. Once the exclusive leave available to fathers and second parents was made available outside Quebec in 2019, the proportion accessing EI parental benefits increased as well (from 15% in 2018 to 30% by 2021, up from 11% in 2005).4
  • More children are being raised by two dads. In 2021, one in five same-gender couples raising children were fathers. Of the 14,390 same-gender couples with children in 2021, 21% consisted of two dads—a rate that has held constant since 2001.5, 6 The same year, 6.2% of same-gender couples that are men were raising children,7 almost double the proportion in 2011 (3.4%).8
  • Fathers are more likely to be lone parents. While women still account for most lone parents, the percentage of one-parent families led by fathers increased from 13% in 1991 to nearly one-quarter (23%) by 2021. In 2021, 11.6% of persons living in father-led one-parent families lived below Canada’s Official Poverty Line (MBM), up from 7.2% in 2020.9, 10
  • More fathers are contributing to unpaid work at home. According to the most recently available data on the topic, more than three-quarters (76%) of men in Canada surveyed in 2015 reported engaging in unpaid household work (e.g., meal preparation, laundry, cleaning, childcare), up from 51% in 1986. That year, nearly six in 10 surveyed men (59%) reported that they participated in meal preparation that day, up from 29% in 1986.11

What a difference one generation can make!

Learn more about fathers in Canada

Nathan Battams is a knowledge mobilization specialist at the Vanier Institute of the Family.


  1. Statistics Canada. (2022, August 9). Table 11-10-0028-01 Single-earner and dual-earner census families by number of children. https://doi.org/10.25318/1110002801-eng
  2. Statistics Canada defined a “stay-at-home” parent as “a person in a couple family with at least one child under the age of 16 at home, who did not have a job or business, was not looking for work, was not attending school, and was not permanently unable to work during the survey reference week; parents on maternity or parental leave are not considered to be stay-at-home parents if they have a job to which they will return—they are considered employed and absent from work.”
  3. Statistics Canada. (2018, May 17). Changing profile of stay-at-home parents. Canadian Megatrends. https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/11-630-x/11-630-x2016007-eng.htm
  4. Statistics Canada. (2022, November 24). Employment Insurance Coverage Survey, 2021. The Daily. https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/daily-quotidien/221124/dq221124b-eng.htm
  5. Statistics Canada. (2022, July 13). State of the union: Canada leads the G7 with nearly one-quarter of couples living common law, driven by Quebec. The Daily. https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/daily-quotidien/220713/dq220713b-eng.htm
  6. Statistics Canada. (2012, September 12). Portrait of Families and Living Arrangements in Canada. The Daily. https://www12.statcan.gc.ca/census-recensement/2011/as-sa/98-312-x/98-312-x2011001-eng.cfm
  7. Statistics Canada. (2022, July 13). Table 98-10-0136-01 Gender diversity status of couple family, type of union and presence of children: Canada, provinces and territories, census metropolitan areas and census agglomerations. https://doi.org/10.25318/9810013601-eng
  8. Statistics Canada. (2012, September 12). Portrait of Families and Living Arrangements in Canada. The Daily. https://www12.statcan.gc.ca/census-recensement/2011/as-sa/98-312-x/98-312-x2011001-eng.cfm
  9. Statistics Canada. (2023, May 2). Canadian Income Survey, 2021. The Daily. https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/daily-quotidien/230502/dq230502a-eng.htm
  10. Statistics Canada. (2022, March 23). Canadian Income Survey, 2020. The Daily. https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/daily-quotidien/220323/dq220323a-eng.htm
  11. Statistics Canada. (2017, June 1). Changes in parents’ participation in domestic tasks and care for children from 1986 to 2015. Spotlight on Canadians: Results from the General Social Survey. https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/89-652-x/89-652-x2017001-eng.htm
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