Canada doesn’t make babies anymore. But it grows thanks to immigrants
TORONTO – Numbers are clear, and they say that Canada doesn’t make babies anymore. But its population is anyway growing, thanks to immigrants.
The number of babies born in Canada fell to its lowest level in 17 years last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and a declining fertility rate, according to a Statistics Canada report released Tuesday and showing there were 351,679 births recorded across the country in 2022, down 5% from the previous year, the strongest heat Canada has recorded since 2005. Prior to 2022, the lowest number of births recorded was as of 2005, with 345,044 children born nationwide.
While the number of births in all provinces and territories fell last year, Nova Scotia was the notable exception with a 12.8 per cent increase in live births. The largest decline occurred in Nunavut, with the number of births falling by 11.8% compared to 2021. Canada, like many other developed countries, has seen a decline in births in recent years, but the Covid-19 pandemic has affected many people’s plans to have children, said Kate Choi, associate professor of sociology at Western University, to Global News. “Although the fertility decline was indeed part of a larger trend of fertility decreases that have been occurring in Canada, the magnitude of the decrease is larger than what we would have anticipated in the absence of COVID-19.” …and the high cost of living has amplified the magnitude of the heat of births, Choi added. “It’s very expensive to have children and right now, when everything is expensive, it’s very hard for young adults to be able to have the type of lifestyle that allows them to have children, which is contributing to delayed and forgone fertility.”
Associated with this trend, there is another one: lifestyle changes and work decisions are factors contributing to a shift toward smaller families, says Mark Rosenberg, a geography expert and professor emeritus at Queen’s University. “I think mainly the factors we should focus on are first and foremost women’s decisions around the labour force and delaying birth until they’re in their 30s” he told to Global News. And there are also a growing number of young people living in single-person households, Rosenberg added.
Despite the decline in births, Canada’s population has grown at a “record pace”, surpassing the milestone of 40 million people earlier this year, thanks to increased immigration. The surge in international migration is bringing the growth rate of the Canadian population to levels not seen in almost 70 years and it is Alberta above all that is growing faster than any province.
The latest demographic estimates from Statistics Canada show that Canada’s population grew by 1.15 million from July 2022 to July 2023 – the largest jump in the G7 – and Canada’s population growth rate is now 2.9 per cent, the highest recorded in Canada in a 12-month period in 1957, when it reached 3.3% annually during the height of the baby boom and Hungarian refugee crisis.
Almost 98% of the population growth account can be attributed to net migration: the number of non-permanent residents has in fact increased by 46%, especially due to the increase in work and study permits; since July 2022 the number of non-permanent residents has increased by almost 700,000 to 2.2 million and the number of immigrants has increased by 468,817.
Among the provinces, Alberta holds the record, as we were saying, thanks to a mix of international and inter-province migration. As the CBC reports, over the past year Alberta has seen 56,245 more people move to the province than leave it – that’s the highest annual gain (+4%) on record since Statistics Canada began to collect comparative data in 1971-72. But seven other provinces also saw their population rates reach record levels: Prince Edward Island +3.9%, Nova Scotia +3.2%, New Brunswick +3.1%, Ontario +3.0%, Manitoba + 2.9%, Saskatchewan +2.6% and Quebec +2.3%.