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For Better … or Worse?

For Better … or Worse?

StatsCan Ends Marriage & Divorce Rate Tracking

Just announced late last month, Statistics Canada will no longer collect and publish data on the annual marriage and divorce rates in Canada.  The decision, according to Statistics Canada, is a cost-cutting move which will save the embattled agency approximately $250, 000.00 per year.

But as several commentators have pointed out in media coverage of this story, the small savings gained are far outweighed by the loss of information and knowledge that will result from this decision.  Nora Spinks, the new CEO of the Vanier Institute for the Family, noted in an article in the Globe and Mail that “If we stop tracking marriage and divorce, it will become harder to be able to determine how our policies impact families, and how families impact social and economic development.”

We have to concur with her assessment of the serious implications of this move for the future development of social policy and programs in Canada.  Without an annual tracking of marriage and divorce rates, another window into the state of family life is closing.  How are families being affected by current financial realities — are marriages suffering?  Are couples delaying marriage because of economic uncertainty?  How many families — and how many children — are  affected by marital breakdown across the country?  All these questions, and many more, will become much harder to answer without the data supplied until now by Statistics Canada.

Certainly the increasing diversity of family structures in Canada makes the marriage and divorce data only a partial picture of family life realities.  Particularly in Quebec, where up to a third of couples are in common-law relationships, attempting to capture accurate demographic information about family life is becoming more and more challenging.  Yet it should go without saying that the increasing complexity of our family lives isn’t a reason to stop collecting information.

According to Statistics Canada’s annual tally, currently 43.1% of marriages are expected to end in divorce before a couple reaches their 50th anniversary, an increase from 39.3 per cent a decade earlier.  In 2008 there were 70,226 divorces in Canada.

 

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article courtesy by Marilee Peters
BC Council for the Family

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