In Focus 2019: Living Alone in Canada

On March 6, 2019, Statistics Canada published new data from the 2017 General Social Survey (GSS), which found that the proportion of Canadians in middle adulthood (aged 35 to 64) living alone has grown in recent decades, though most remain socially connected and plan on forming a union or having children someday.

Whether it’s the result of choice, culture or circumstance, Census data shows that one-person households have, for the first time, become the most common household type in Canada – more than at any point in Canadian history. But the more detailed portrait provided by today’s GSS release and Census shows us that many of these increasingly diverse “solo dwellers” maintain close relationships with loved ones.


  • In 2016, 12.9% of the total population in Canada aged 35 to 64 lived alone, up from 7.6% in 1981.
  • In 2017, nearly half (46%) of separated or divorced “solo dwellers” aged 20 and over had at least one child aged 18 or under from a previous union. Among these parents, 74% said that they contacted their child at least once a week by telephone, text, email or video chat, and 59% reported that their child lived with them for some period of time in the last year.
  • In 2017, one-third (33%) of young adults (aged 20 to 34) living alone were in a couple relationship with someone living in another home (“living apart together” relationship).
  • In 2017, most “solo dwellers” said that in the future, they were open to living in a common-law union (72%) or intended to marry/remarry (59%), while 67% said that they intended to have a child someday.
  • In 2017, 45% of women living alone were seniors (aged 65 and older), compared with 24% of men living alone.

To book an interview with Vanier Institute CEO Nora Spinks, please contact [email protected].

Many of the topics covered in the GSS, as well as data from this survey, will be explored at the Families in Canada Conference 2019 on March 27 and 28, 2019 – a national, pan-Canadian event hosted by the Vanier Institute of the Family where organizations that study, serve and support families will gather for two days of knowledge-sharing and catalytic conversation. REGISTER TODAY!

Published on March 6, 2019

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