Province leads country in divorce, Albertans spend more on gambling than national average

Albertans have been seen as smug, cocky and self-satisfied by other Canadians. But, in some ways, Albertans don’t have much to be satisfied about.

The Calgary Journal has compared Alberta to the rest of Canada using a number of “vice” measures — including obesity, drinking, divorce, gambling, smoking and overall crime rates.

As shown in the accompanying infographic, which is based on the latest Statistics Canada numbers available, Alberta is consistently among the provinces with the highest vice rates.

DRINKING

For example, 21.4 per cent of Albertans sit down and have five or more drinks at least once a month in comparison to the 20.3 per cent of the Canadian population.

Miles Craig, the founder and chief executive officer of Canada’s Temperance Foundation, calls that amount of binge drinking “alarming.”

Canada’s Temperance Foundation is a group committed to lowering the rates of drug and alcohol abuse in Canada. They have dedicated themselves to educating the public on the lesser-known effects of alcohol abuse.

“Ours is a preventative approach. Preventing addiction and binge drinking before it begins,” says Craig.

GAMBLING

Alberta also has a huge amount of gambling revenue. On average, a Canadian citizen will spend $515 a year on gambling, but the average Albertan will spend an eye-opening $740 a year.

In fact, according to Alberta Gambling Research Institute research specialist Garry Smith, “We’ve got more gambling than most other provinces and we’ve had it longer.”

Smith hypothesizes that Alberta has such high gambling revenues because Alberta has more disposable income compared to other provinces, especially the Maritimes.

DIVORCE

But where Alberta really leads the country, isn’t in crime or obesity, but divorce. Our province has the highest rate of divorce in Canada.

A comparison by the Calgary Journal shows that Alberta ranks among the highest amongst all the provinces in therms of certain vices.

Infographic by Colin McHattieAccording to Statistics Canada, in 2011 there were 327,024 people in Alberta who were legally separated or divorced. In 2012 that number jumped to 336,198 people.

That means that in one year 9,174 people became legally separated or divorced in Alberta, which if you crunch the numbers is a growth rate of 2.73 per cent.

Lurline Ketler-Raposo, a registered clinical counsellor and sociologist in Calgary says this could be for a number of different reasons.

She says that women are continuing to get better jobs that pay well so they are less reliant on men for income.

“It’s easier to leave if you have the financial means to,” Ketler-Raposo says.

But when asked specifically why Alberta’s rates were so high, she could only speak from her own professional experience with couples and divorce.

“I know a lot of couples work apart, so they have one partner who is going up to work away from home and then coming back for periods of time, and I know that’s very difficult on the adjustment of the household,” Ketler-Raposo says.

So even though Alberta may be the main source of Canada’s oil wealth, it’s also the source of some things the province might not want to boast about.

cmchattie@cjournal.ca