The number of families living in Brandon is up 10.1 per cent overall, but the biggest increases from the 2006 to 2011 Statistics Canada surveys is in single-parent families.
A Statistics Canada report released Wednesday shows that single-parent families jumped from approximately 2,000 in 2006 to 2,400 in 2011, a figure that represents 17.8 per cent of the 12,470 families in Brandon. Female single parents dominate that statistic, as 14.6 per cent of the total number of families are headed by a single female parent, while 3.1 per cent are headed by a single father.
Married couple families still make up the majority of the family units in family, but the current rate of 67.1 per cent of the total number of families is down from 70 per cent in 2006.
Common-law couple families also increased between the two census periods, and now total 15.1 per cent of the overall.
Those figures don’t surprise Bethel Christian Assembly pastor Mike Davis, though he has not seen a decrease or an increase in the number of marriage services he has performed.
"They are correct in saying there are more single-parent families," Davis said.
While Davis added there is still a significant amount of marriages in Brandon, and church organizations like Bethel’s try to work with couples before and after they marry to support the institution of marriage, sometimes they break down.
"There are a lot of married couples that choose to end their marriages for selfish reasons," Davis said. "We really don’t have control over that. Selfishness, preoccupations, maybe habits are factors. People are trying to find real love and are confused about what love is. That’s one of the keys right there."
Davis said there are economic, spiritual and emotional impacts to family units when there is only a single parent in a household.
"The impact is obviously that there is only one wage earner in a home, and it’s very hard for them to provide the financial needs," Davis said.
"For emotional and spiritual needs, it’s very difficult when there is only one parent doing that. We have a number of single parents attending our church, and the church becomes their community of support."
Davis pointed to studies that show common-law couple relationships are not as stable as married couple relationships.
"I would say that the commitment is not there," Davis said. "Realistically, a lot of people enter into those relationships thinking they can walk away from someone when it’s not convenient or when the love falls out. The commitment isn’t there and that brings in a whole pile of other issues."
The increase in numbers of families in Brandon, now at 10.1 per cent between census periods, is more than double the provincial increase of 4.8 per cent and is also greater than the national average increase of 5.5 per cent.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition September 20, 2012