TORONTO – Many Canadians are delaying their plans to have children or have fewer children because of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to new analysis from Statistics Canada.
Using data from the first series of the Canadian Social Survey – COVID-19 and Well-Being (CSS-CW), StatCan analyzed whether Canadians aged 15 to 49 changed their fertility plans because of the pandemic. Including the change in time. The effects on childbirth, the number of children desired, and the extent to which certain socio-demographic characteristics were more or less likely to accommodate their reproductive plans.
survey results, published in a report on Wednesday, found that nearly a quarter (24 percent) of Canadians aged 15 to 49 have changed their fertility plans in 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
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Overall, 19 percent of 15- to 49-year-olds wanted to have fewer children than previously planned or later than before because of the pandemic.
However, four percent of those surveyed reported that they now want to have more children than they previously planned or want to have children sooner.
“The unique circumstances of the COVID 19 pandemic may have prompted some individuals to delay or abandon their plans out of health concerns, or due to secondary effects of the pandemic such as job loss, low income, financial uncertainty or may result. General stress,” wrote the researchers. “On the other hand, for some the pandemic may have sparked a renewed interest in conceiving a child as a result of the desire to have more time at home and a new, enriching experience.”
The report describes Canada as a “low-fertility country” whose fertility rate has been declining steadily since 2008. Since the pandemic began, the trend has accelerated – Canada’s fertility rate fell from 1.47 children per child in 2019 to a record low of 1.40. children per child in 2020.
Canada also experienced the lowest number of births in 2020 and the biggest year-on-year reduction in births since 2006 -3.6 percent.
The survey found that the most common change in fertility plans was a delay in having children, a finding deemed “particularly meaningful” by the study as a late childbearing country as far back as Canada where babies are born at the time of delivery. The average age of those who do is about 31 years. Old in 2020.
The survey also found that Canadians who had no children are now more likely to have children later or have fewer children than those who were already parents.
Visible minorities more likely to change fertility plans
The CSS-CW found that individuals belonging to groups designated as visible minorities were more likely to have fewer children or to report having them later, versus 25 percent of respondents who did not belong to those groups at 17 percent.
“This difference may partly reflect the fact that visible minorities have been disproportionately negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, whether measured through unemployment, financial difficulties or COVID-19 mortality ,” the researchers wrote.
The survey noted that neither immigrant status nor LGBTQ2S+ status had a significant impact on one’s likelihood of changing fertility plans, but noted a regional trend comparing Atlantic provinces to Ontario and Quebec.
Sixteen percent of those living in the East Coast provinces and 13 percent of those living in Quebec reported wanting or later giving birth, compared to 22 percent in Ontario. The survey recognizes that this may have to do with youth employment rates, housing affordability and availability, and Quebec’s unique low-fee childcare.
The researchers wrote that it remains to be seen whether Canada’s total fertility rate will return to its pre-pandemic levels in the coming years or continue with the declining trend seen in previous years.