Carl M. Lakaski, Valerie Wilmot, Thomas J. Lips, and Monica Brown
Canada extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and north to the Arctic Ocean. As of March 1991, the population occupying its 9.2 million square kilometers was estimated at 27,296,859. There is no permanent settlement on approximately 89 percent of Canada's land. More than half of the nation's people live within 240 kilometers (149 miles) of the Canada- U.S. border, and three-quarters live in an urban environment (Statistics Canada, 1989).
Over the past twenty-five years, Canada has experienced a gradual decline in the rate of population growth, accompanied by major changes in population age structure. The "baby boom" of the 1950s and 1960s, followed by the "baby bust" of the 1970s and 1980s, has had a significant impact on school systems, the labor force, family formation, health care, and many other aspects of society. Currently, the child population is stabilizing, while the youth population (fourteen to twenty-four years) is declining. The Canadian family has an average of only 1.3 children, with notable highs of 2.0 in the Northwest Territories and 1.7 in Newfoundland.
In more than 60 percent of two-parent families, both parents work outside the home. Women now make up approximately 44 percent of the labor force. At the time of the 1986 census, there were over 850,000 single-parent families in Canada, of which four out of five were headed by women.
Single mothers, women, and the elderly make up most of the 4 million individuals defined as having low incomes; in 1988 an estimated 3.3 million Canadians (13.1 percent) spent more than 58.5 percent of their income on food, shelter, and clothing. Not included in this estimate of low- or no-income earners