Ottawa

Number of grandparents rising in Canada, Statistics Canada says

Statistics Canada says the number of grandparents in Canada is on the rise and an Ottawa-based research institute says it's all for the best.

Vanier Institute of the Family, based in Ottawa, says it's a golden opportunity for kids

Nora Spinks, CEO of the Vanier Institute of the Family in Ottawa, says grandparents and kids can develop a very deep and rich relationship. (CBC)

Statistics Canada says the number of grandparents in Canada is on the rise and an Ottawa-based research institute says it's all for the best. 

The Vanier Institute of the Family said a growing number of grandparents, an increase reported by Statistics Canada on Friday, will benefit families and children across the country. 

"Grandparents play a really significant role in families," says Nora Spinks, the CEO of the institute, which describes itself as a national research and educational organization committed to the well-being of families in Canada.

"They have a [strong] relationship with the grandchildren, and because we're living longer, we're now having those relationships longer."

Statistics Canada reported there are more than 7.5 million grandparents in Canada, and a large number are over the age of 85. 

There are about 7 and a half million grandparents in Canada today and their numbers are growing according to Statistics Canada. We talk to Nora Spinks of the Vanier Institute about their social influence . 6:58

Research shows that grandparents can have a positive impact in children's lives because they nurture them and show them unconditional love, Spinks told CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning. 

"It's a very deep and rich relationship," she said.

"We're finding that, because of these deep, long-term relationships, when the grandparent requires care as they age … the grandchildren are there to help out."

Language, traditions can be passed on

There is a strong culture exchange that can happen between grandparents and grandchildren, which allows language and traditions to be passed from one generation to the next, Spinks said. 

Many grandparents live with their grandchildren, she said. Statistics Canada reported that foreign-born grandparents, compared to those born in Canada, are twice as likely to live with their grandchildren. 

With an increase in the use of technology, Spinks said grandparents are finding it easier to connect with their families far away.

'It's not always golden'

The two groups often develop a very fruitful and fulfilling relationship, but some grandparents in rural areas can be isolated, she added.

Some seniors live on their own and may have little communication with their family.

"There's not a lot of support for some of those grandparents, both in terms of finances [and] in terms of assistance," she said. 

"It's not always golden, but when it is, it can be really rich and deep and wonderful for everybody involved."

More respect and recognition toward grandparents and seniors could help to ease social isolation, Spinks said.