June 13, 2016

OTTAWA - Most Canadians value marriage highly, but trends show an increase in those who see it as an outdated institution, according to a poll released May 31.

"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 for the Cardus Family.

Cardus describes itself as "a think tank dedicated to the renewal of North American social architecture."

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

Cardus also says the study shows Canadians tend more to value marriage as a "personal option." They may not understand its role in strengthening communities, protecting against poverty and, "in certain instances, even protect(ing) physical and emotional health."

Of those surveyed, 78 per cent said marriage "has a positive or somewhat positive effect on family life," and 56 per cent disagreed when asked "if marriage is an outdated institution."

However, those aged 18 to 29 are "least likely to value marriage," according to the report. It notes that one-fifth are neutral, "neither agreeing nor disagreeing" that marriage is outdated.

The report noted a 2002 study that reported 73 per cent of Canadians thought "marriage is not an outdated institution."

"The proportion of those who neither agree nor disagree has shifted significantly, from seven per cent in 2002 to 21 per cent today," the report said.

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 10 years.

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

Fewer than one per cent of respondents said assisted suicide is "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 that option for their loved ones," it said.