The Canadian Research Institute for Law and the Family did a study to try to understand the extent of polyamorous relationships in Canada. John-Paul Boyd summarized these findings in an article which was published in The Lawyer’s Daily on March 14, 2018. Here are some excerpts from that article:


“The survey, which ran over a course of seven weeks in the summer of 2016, yielded 480 valid responses. The majority of respondents (91.6 per cent) lived in British Columbia, Ontario, Alberta and Quebec. Most respondents were aged 25 to 34 (42.3 per cent), identified as female (59.4 per cent) and described their sexual orientation as heterosexual (37.3 per cent) or bisexual (31.7 per cent).

Respondents to the institute’s survey tended to be younger, better educated and wealthier than the general Canadian population. They are more likely to be between the ages of 25 and 34 (a difference of 28.4 per cent) and ages 35 to 44 (a difference of 18.3 per cent) than Canadians as a whole; they are more likely to have an undergraduate degree (a difference of 10.2 per cent) or a postgraduate or professional degree (a difference of 8.3 per cent); and, they are less likely to have incomes below $25,000 per year (a difference of 10.3 per cent) but more likely to have annual incomes between $25,000 and $49,999 (a difference of 2.4 per cent) and between $50,000 and $99,999 (a difference of 7.4 per cent).

More than four-fifths of respondents were in a polyamorous relationship at the time of the survey, or had been within the previous five years. Slightly more than half of these respondents said their relationships involve three people; smaller numbers said their relationships involved four people (13 per cent) or five people (11.2 per cent). More than two-fifths said at least one child lives full- or part-time in their household, with a total of 310 children living with 163 respondents.

However, the majority of respondents (54.8 per cent) had taken no legal steps to formalize the rights and responsibilities of the members of their relationships. […]


Respondents with incomes of $60,000 or more per year were much more likely to have taken a step to formalize the rights and responsibilities of the members of their relationships, as were respondents aged 35 to 54. Curiously, respondents with an undergraduate degree or higher level of education were generally less likely to have taken a step than respondents with lesser levels of educational attainment. […]


More than four-fifths of respondents to the institute’s survey agreed that the number of people who identify as polyamorous is increasing, and they agreed that the number of people openly involved in polyamorous relationships is increasing. (Slightly less than three-quarters of respondents also agreed that public acceptance of polyamorous relationships is increasing in Canada.) My own experience, including the number of telephone calls I receive from individuals in polyamorous relationships, suggests that these relationships are indeed more common than one might think. […]


It is clear that the number of Canadians involved in such relationships is not insignificant, and yet the legal needs of those involved in cohabiting polyamorous relationships can be complicated and determining how those needs can be addressed through the current law on domestic relationships, wholly predicated on the assumption that all family relationships involve only pairs of adults, can be still more so.”1


The law in B.C. currently does not specifically address relationships that involve more than two spouses so clearly we may need new legislation that tries to address these relationships. This is going to add a whole new layer of complexity to what is already an extremely confusing area of the law.


1Mapping the demographics of polyamory by John-Paul Boyd, The Lawyer’s Daily (March 14, 2018)