In 2022, births across the country dipped to a startling 17-year low, influenced by the pandemic and an ongoing trend of declining fertility, according to a fresh report from Statistics Canada.
By the numbers:
- Canada saw 351,679 births in 2022, a 5% drop from 2021.
- The previous record low was back in 2005, with 345,044 births.
- While nearly every province and territory reported fewer births, Nova Scotia bucked the trend with a 12.8% jump in live births.
- On the flip side, Nunavut experienced the sharpest decline at 11.8%.
Driving the trend:
Western University’s Kate Choi points to the pandemic as a significant factor. However, she emphasizes that the dramatic decrease extends a pre-existing downward trend in Canadian fertility.
However, there’s more to it than just COVID-19. The surging cost of living plays a crucial role. As the expenses mount, young adults grapple with financial pressures that deter them from starting or expanding their families.
Canada’s declining birth rate isn’t a solitary issue. The nation’s fertility rate has steadily declined for the past decade. In 2021, the average was pegged at 1.44 children per woman, a slight uptick after a decade-long decline. As families rethink or delay their childbearing decisions, fertility treatments like egg freezing are gaining traction nationwide.
The big picture:
Despite the birth dip, Canada’s population continues to grow, recently surpassing the 40 million mark, propelled mainly by increased immigration.
Worthy of note:
A concerning health metric emerged from the report. In 2022, the percentage of babies born with a low birth weight (below 2,500 grams) rose to 7%, up from 6.6% in the previous year. This trend points to potential health implications for the nation’s newest residents.
While Canada faces challenges with its declining birth rates, immigration continues to fuel its population growth. However, this isn’t sustainable as immigrants’ or their descendants’ fertility also collapses to as low or lower than the national rates, requiring even more immigration. The global fertility rate is also declining, especially in India.