OTTAWA, July 11, 2013 ( – The recent increase in Canada's birthrate has receded again, according to the latest report from Statistics Canada.

In its Fertility Overview of the years 2009 to 2011 released yesterday, StatsCan reported that in 2009 the total fertility rate dropped to 1.67, then to 1.63 in 2010, and to 1.61 in 2011, the most recent year for which numbers are available.

In 2011, there were 377,636 births in Canada, up slightly from the previous year when 377,213 were born. Both are lower than 2009, when there were 380,863 births.


With a total fertility rate of 1.61, Canada is falling further and further away from the 2.1 children per woman required to replace the population in the absence of migration.

“It’s been more than 40 years since Canadians had enough children to replace themselves,” said Derek Miedema, a researcher with the Institute of Marriage and Family Canada.

“In 2010, Canada was 109,000 babies short of replacement. Since 2002, we’re behind a whopping 1,022,971,” Miedema observed.

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A table from StatsCan showing total fertility rates from 1926 to 2011 reveals that the last year when Canadian women had enough children to keep the population stable was 1971.

In 2008, StatsCan reported that the total fertility rate had inched up for a sixth consecutive year, rising from 1.53 children per woman in 2003 to 1.68 in 2008. In 2008 there were 377,886 live births in Canada. This was well up from the 328,802 babies born in 2002, which was an all-time low and represented 10.5 live births per 1,000 population, the lowest since vital statistics were recorded nationally in 1921.

In 1926, the average number of children per woman was 3.36. This dropped to 2.64 in 1937 at the height of the Great Depression of the 1930s.

The baby boom that followed the Second World War saw the birth rate rise to more than 3 children per woman again, with the apogee being reached in 1959 with a birth rate of 3.94.

With some variation, which StatsCan attributes to economic influences, the table shows a steadily declining birth rate.

Nunavut, Saskatchewan, and the Northwest Territories had the highest fertility rates in the country, with only Nunavut's rate of 2.97 meeting replacement level.

By contrast, British Columbia had the lowest fertility rate of the country, at 1.42. It was followed by Newfoundland at 1.45 and Nova Scotia at 1.47.

StatsCan reports that the overall decrease in the total fertility rate in Canada over the past four decades is due to steady declines in fertility rates of all age groups under age 30. In contrast, the fertility rates of those aged 30 and over have generally increased.

The report says that in 2011, the age-specific fertility rate for women aged 30 to 34 was the highest of all groups with 105.9 births per 1,000 women, while for 25- to 29-year-olds it was 95.2.

“In general,” StatsCan reported, “the period throughout the 1980s to the present has seen the lowest fertility rates for young women in the data observed since 1926.”

Derek Miedema explained that the drop in fertility rates among younger women and the rising rates among women in their 30s and 40s has also contributed to the dearth of children born in Canada.

“Another reason we aren’t having more kids is that we’re having kids later,” Miedema said.

“Waiting to have kids means fewer kids for people who don’t want to be a 50-year-old parent chasing a toddler. We’re having kids later, in part, because we are marrying later. We’re having kids later and marrying later, in part, because sex and babies are no longer connected, courtesy of oral contraceptives, aka the Pill.”

Miedema said the answer to the problem of Canadian demographics lies not in immigration or “baby bonus” cash incentives, but in government policies that allow parents to have the number of children they want to have.

A World Values Survey, conducted by a network of social scientists, found Canadians’ ideal number of children is actually 2.7.

“Canadians say in polls that they want to have more kids than they actually have,” Miedema said. “Governments should allow families to keep more of their money, since finances are a top concern for most. Income splitting, promised but not yet instituted federally, is a huge step in that direction.”

“Reality calls all of us to make a choice: Have more kids or deal with lower healthcare coverage, lower pensions and a smaller economy,” Miedema concluded. “In that light, we might just consider having more kids.”

The Statistics Canada birth rate report is available here.

A report on Canada's demographic situation by the Institute of Marriage and Family Canada, released on February 15, 2013 and titled, “Forty years below replacement. Canada’s population is aging. What we can—and can’t—do about it” is available here


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