The latest poll by Cardus Family shows that support for the institution of marriage among Canadians is weakening. Photo/Pixabay

Cardus Family study reveals Canadian support for marriage weakening

  • June 1, 2016

OTTAWA – A new poll by Cardus Family reveals most Canadians still value marriage highly, but trends show an increase in those who see it as an outdated institution.

“Compared to just over a decade ago, Canadians have become more ambivalent about the role of marriage as a social institution,” said The Canada Family Life Poll, carried out by Nanos Research and released May 31.

“This may reflect a decline in understanding of what marriage does for society,” it said, noting “the institutional concept of marriage does not hold the same level of cultural authority that it once did.”

Cardus Family also points out the study shows Canadians tend more to value marriage as a “personal option” and may not understand its role in strengthening communities and protecting against poverty, and “can in certain instances even protect physical and emotional health.”

Though 78 per cent of those polled said marriage “has a positive or somewhat positive effect on family life,” and 56 per cent disagree when asked “if marriage is an outdated institution,” those in the 18-29 cohort are “least likely to value marriage,” according to the report, which notes one fifth are neutral, “neither agreeing nor disagreeing” marriage is outdated.

The report notes a 2002 study that reported 73 per cent of Canadians thought “marriage is not an outdated institution.”

Men (81 per cent) are less likely than women (75 per cent) to find marriage outdated, the study finds.

“The proportion of those who neither agree not disagree has shifted significantly, from seven per cent in 2002 to 21 per cent today,” the report said. “So while Canadians have soured a little on the concept of marriage as a relevant institution today, a significant number of Canadians have shifted to a neutral position.”

The report also tackles the growing problem of caring for aging family members. Though 54 per cent are not presently providing direct care for any senior, 45 per cent are. Nine per cent provide care for both parents. The survey showed Canadians expect their responsibilities for caring for the elderly to double within the next 10 years, in line with Statistics Canada projections the number of people over 65 will jump from 15 per cent to 24 per cent of the Canadian population by 2038.

The study showed the biggest challenges families face in caring for the elderly have to do with “time, work scheduling and availability.” 

“The other significant challenges were money (12 per cent) and emotional, physical and mental exhaustion and personal health (11 per cent),” the survey showed.

The study also addresses possible policy options Canadians would like government to take, including “access to care, better care or community care” (19.9 per cent), financial assistance (18 per cent), increased home care (just under 15 per cent) and more affordable housing (3.5) per cent. However, 28 per cent were “unsure.” 

Less than one per cent of respondents mentioned assisted suicide as “a realistic solution for governments to improve one’s experience in providing direct care on a personal basis for seniors in one’s life.”

“This may speak to Canadians wanting the option of legalized assisted suicide, while few would like to have that option for their loved ones,” it said.

The Cardus Family study also examined Canadians attitudes towards children and the challenges they face in caring for them. It revealed Canadians would like more children (2.76 on average) than they actually have (2.27), and money is the biggest challenge they face.

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