Statistics Canada
Symbol of the Government of Canada

Interreligious unions on the rise

Warning View the most recent version.

Archived Content

Information identified as archived is provided for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It is not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards and has not been altered or updated since it was archived. Please contact us to request a format other than those available.

Interreligious unions are on the rise in Canada — not a surprise given the country’s increasing cultural diversity and declining religious affiliation. Still, four out of five couples are made up of partners from the same religious group.

In 1981, just 15% of Canadians in couples had an interreligious union, either marriage or common-law. By 2001, interreligious unions had grown to 19% of couples—of the 14.1 million Canadians in couples, 2.7 million had a partner from a different broad religious group.

Half of all interreligious unions, or 1.3 million, are between Catholics and Protestants, the two largest religious groups in Canada. These unions are not evenly distributed geographically, as the availability of same-faith partners tends to lower the frequency of interreligious unions. For example, 83% of the population in Quebec is Catholic and 5% is Protestant: only 2% of Catholics are in Catholic/Protestant interreligious unions. In Ontario, where there are nearly equal numbers of Catholics and Protestants, 18% of Catholics in couples are in interreligious unions with a Protestant.

Highly religious people and those with more traditional doctrine are less likely to have an interreligious union. For instance, only 13% of conservative Protestants have one, whereas 23% of mainline Protestants do.

Orthodox Christians are more likely today to be in interreligious unions, especially with Catholics. Jews, meanwhile, are tending toward more interreligious unions, particularly with Catholics and Protestants. For Buddhists, the most frequent interreligious union is with a partner who has no religion. Sikhs, Muslims and Hindus are least likely to be in interreligious unions.