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Canadians in Context

Well-being Social Indicators

How many are we?

  1. Population Size and Growth

Where do we live?

  1. Geographic Distribution

What are our perceptions?

  1. Perceptions and Life Satisfaction

Many aspects of Canadian society constitute the setting in which we live and thus influence our well-being. Different from the indicators of well-being, the "Canadians in Context" sections describe in general who we are as Canadians: our population, where we live, what attitudes and perceptions we hold, and how satisfied we are with our lives.

The sections also describe how these aspects of society have changed over time. Canada has undergone tremendous change since Confederation in 1867, and change is expected to continue in the future. For example, our society has become much less rural than in the past, many more women are in the workforce, and family structure has changed considerably, with fewer children in most families. These changes affect who we are and what we believe, requiring adjustments in the way we live our lives and organize society.


  • The population of Canada is now nearly 35 million. The growth rate of our population has progressively slowed down since the 1960's. The average growth rate from 2000 to 2010 was 1.1% and the rate is expected to continue to drop in the future.
  • Canada's population is aging. By 2051, it is expected that about one in four Canadians will be a senior.
  • Canada has become an increasingly diverse nation. The proportion of Canada's population born outside the country rose to 20.6% in 2011, the highest since 1931.   
  • Canadian families are becoming more diverse. In 2006, 34.6% of all families were married couples with children, and there has been an increase in the proportion of lone parents (15.9%) and common-law couples (15.5%).
  • Women's participation in the workforce has increased dramatically over the past few decades. The percentage of women (15 years of age and over) in the workforce has gone from 45.7% in 1976 to 62.3% in 2011.
  • The majority of Canadians are satisfied with their lives: in 2011, 92.3% said they were satisfied with their lives. Of 34 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) nations, Canada ranked second in 2010 in life satisfaction, being surpassed only by Denmark.

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