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

Page last updated in May 2019