From the IMFC Executive Director
As Canadians, we all look forward to the transition to spring and summer. The changes to flora and fauna, the late evening sunshine and my personal favourite – the BBQ!
We would like to see other transitions as well. For over the past year, the Institute of Marriage and Family Canada has called for a Royal Commission on the Family. Every part of the political spectrum, advertising world and marketing technique refers to the family – we regularly hear terms like working family, family values, and family time. Advertisers ask us to join their family and corporations tell us that they want be an extension of our family.
And yet what does that all mean? While there once was commonality in how we defined the family, much has changed and not necessarily for the better. In recent years, Canada has legalized same-sex marriage and the Ontario Superior Court gave its consent for three-parent families. Federal legislation has changed terminology significantly: Natural parents became legal parents – meaning the state decides who parents are. Our tax structure makes life harder for families and a recent IMFC survey showed, perhaps not surprisingly, the single biggest challenge parents identified are financial constraints.
Our birth rate is currently at 1.5, while replacement rate is 2.1 children per woman. Without immigration, Canada’s population would be decreasing. Statistics Canada reported that on average, 17 per cent of couples are co-habiting (35 per cent in the province of Quebec), and the divorce rate has skyrocketed since no-fault divorce was introduced.
We have an aging population, getting closer to retirement and therefore not paying as much tax, yet wanting to draw on their pensions and live life to the fullest. We potentially have a smaller workforce, paying less taxes overall that will be used to pay for social services.
The effects of changes to social policy are not immediately felt. That’s why a Royal Commission on the Family is so vital. If we want to see long-term stable solutions to these important matters, we need to call on the experts, who can collectively show the way.
We need to draw on experts from all fields; economics, sociology and demography, among others and explore fully the repercussions of the issues mentioned above. There is no one single answer that can address these many problems. Rather we need to be sure of the long-term consequences that are before us and plan accordingly.
We think it’s time to move forward and determine what the family will look like for the next generation and beyond. What do you think?
Until next time,
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