Irreligion in Canada

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Percent of Canadians not identifying with a religion by province or territory in 2011
  0–9% irreligious
  10–19% irreligious
  20–29% irreligious
  30–39% irreligious
  ≥ 40% irreligious

Irreligion is common throughout all provinces and territories of Canada. Irreligious Canadians include atheists, agnostics, and humanists.[1] The surveys may also include those who are deists, spiritual and pantheists. The 2011 Canadian census reported that 23.9% of Canadians declare no religious affiliation.[2] According to Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance, among those estimated 4.9 million Canadians of no religion, an estimated 1.9 million would specify atheist, 1.8 million would specify agnostic, and 1.2 million humanist.[3]

Surveys and public opinion polls[edit]

In 2011, a survey conducted by Ipsos-Reid showed that 47% of the Canadian population believed religion does more harm in the world than good, while 64% believed that religion provides more questions than answers.[4] A 2008 Canadian Press Harris-Decima telephone survey of just over 1,000 Canadians found 23% were willing to state they do not believe in any god.[5]

The Canadian Ipsos-Reid poll released September 12, 2011 entitled "Canadians Split On Whether Religion Does More Harm in the World than Good", sampled 1,129 Canadian adults and came up with 30% who do not believe in a god. The same poll found that 33% of respondents who identified themselves as Catholics and 28% Protestants said they didn't believe in a god.[6]

A 2010 80-questions mail-in survey of 420 Canadians by Carleton University Survey Centre and the Montreal-based Association for Canadian Studies found 30% agreed with the statement "I know God really exists and I have no doubts", 20% acknowledged they "have doubts" but "feel that I do believe in God", 10% answered they believe in God "sometimes", 20% said they don't believe in a "personal God" but "do believe in a higher power", 12% adopted the classic agnostic position and said they "don't know whether there is a God and don't believe there is a way to find out", and 7% said no god exists. Slightly more than half believed in heaven, while less than a third believed in hell, with 53.5% saying they believed in life after death. About 27% said they believe in reincarnation, and 50% expressed belief in religious miracles.[7]


Some non-religious Canadians have formed associations, such as the Humanist Association of Canada, Centre for Inquiry Canada, Toronto Secular Alliance, or the Canadian atheists. In 1999, some non-religious Canadians signed a petition to remove "God" from the preamble to the Canadian Constitution. Svend Robinson, who tabled this petition in Parliament, was subsequently relegated to the backbenches by his party leader.[8] Shortly afterwards, the same group petitioned to remove "God" from the Canadian national anthem, "O Canada", but to no avail.

Irreligion by province[edit]

The Canadian provinces and territories ranked by percentage of population claiming no religion according to the 2001 Canadian Census[9] and the 2011 Canadian Census.[10]

Rank Jurisdiction % Irreligious (2001) % Irreligious (2011) Change (2001–2011)
-  Canada 16.2% 23.9% +7.7
01  Yukon 37.4% 49.9% +12.5
02  British Columbia 35.1% 44.1% +9.0
03  Alberta 23.1% 31.6% +8.5
04  Northwest Territories 17.4% 30.5% +13.1
05  Manitoba 18.3% 26.5% +8.2
06  Saskatchewan 15.4% 24.4% +9.0
07  Ontario 16.0% 23.1% +7.1
08  Nova Scotia 11.6% 21.8% +10.2
09  New Brunswick 7.8% 15.1% +7.3
10  Prince Edward Island 6.5% 14.4% +7.9
11  Nunavut 6.0% 13.0% +7.0
12  Quebec 5.6% 12.1% +6.5
13  Newfoundland and Labrador 2.5% 6.2% +3.7

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Zuckerman, Phil (2010), Atheism and Secularity: Issues, concepts, and definitions, Praeger, ISBN 9780313351815, retrieved 2010-02-03
  2. ^ "Religions in Canada—Census 2011". Statistics Canada/Statistique Canada.
  3. ^ "Non-Christian religious data in Canada". Retrieved 2014-05-11.
  4. ^ "Canadians Split On Whether Religion Does More Harm in the World than Good". Sep 12, 2011. Retrieved 2011-10-02.
  5. ^ "Almost a quarter of Canadians don't believe in any god, new poll says". CBC News. Jun 3, 2008.A sample of the same size has a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
  6. ^ "Canadians Split On Whether Religion Does More Harm in the World than Good | Ipsos". Sep 12, 2011. Retrieved 2012-10-17.
  7. ^ The results of this survey are considered accurate to within 4.8 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
  8. ^ Kurt Bowen (2005). Christians in a Secular World: The Canadian Experience. McGill-Queen's Press. p. 287. ISBN 978-0-7735-2712-6.
  9. ^ StatCan Staff (2003-05-13). "Religions in Canada, 2001 Census". Statistics Canada. Retrieved 2009-12-18.
  10. ^

External links[edit]