StatsCAN Plus

Sibling Day

April 8, 2022, 11:00 a.m. (EDT)

Sibling Day (April 10) is one of those made-up days like Festivus, but it does provide a good excuse for talking about sibling data.

It takes two to make a sibling

It takes two children to make a sibling. However, Canadian women in their child-bearing years had, on average, a record-low 1.4 children in 2020, boding ill for future Sibling Day celebrations.

Just over 358,600 Canadians were born in 2020, the lowest number of births and the largest year-over-year decrease (-3.6%) since 2006. The average age that Canadian women gave birth rose to a record-high 31.3 years.

A recent study suggests that one in seven Canadians (14%) have delayed having children as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Just over half of families with children in 2016 had multiple children

Just over half of the census families with children in 2016 had multiple children, with over one-third having two children (38.5%) and one-sixth having three or more children (16.2%).

Almost half of the census families with children in 2016 were sibling rival-free zones, with only one child (45.3%).

One-third of children whose parents had separated or divorced had a sibling living in a different home

When we asked just before the pandemic in 2019, over one-third of the children (37%) whose parents had separated or divorced had a sibling living in a different home. Almost one in six (17%) were living with a half-sibling, and 5% were living with a stepsibling.

Siblings Day back in the day

There was a time when families were bigger.

In the early 20th Century, when people were still living primarily in rural settings, it was advantageous for couples to have large families, and women were having close to five children, on average.

Then came the Great Depression, followed soon after by World War II. With the inherent uncertainties and upheavals of the times, fertility levels fell further during the late 1920s and throughout the 1930s. By 1937, women were having, on average, 2.64 children.

From 1946 to 1965, thanks to a strong post-war economy, the reunification of families following the war and high marriage rates, Canada's baby boom began. The boom peaked in 1959, when women were having 3.94 children on average.

Despite some fluctuations, the total fertility rate in Canada has been below the replacement level for over 50 years. In fact, 1971 was the last year the replacement-level fertility of 2.1 children per woman was reached, meaning that couples, on average, had produced enough children to continue future generations.

Looking for more sibling data?

We have a new fertility dashboard that shows the decreasing trend in both the number of births and the total fertility rate, as well as the steady increase in the average age of childbearing in Canada in recent years.

We also have a new infographic on children.

Contact information

For more information, contact the Statistical Information Service (toll-free 1-800-263-1136514-283-8300; or Media Relations (