Today's discussion:

We are not taking Canada’s fertility crisis seriously enough

Having strong and stable families is an essential goal for any society that wants to maximize human flourishing, both now and in the future. And yet, not just in Canada but across the Western world, families have been buffeted for more than a generation by changing economic and social trends that have drastically reduced family formation.

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John Williamson

Hmmmm…..which crisis am I supposed to be paying attention to today? The crisis of fertility? The crisis of excessive immigration? The crisis of overpopulation and environmental impact?

10th May 2024 at 8:10 am
Ken Chaddock

There is no overpopulation problem, most knowledgeable commentators agree that thecearth can support and sustain somewhere in the neighborhood of 12 to 13 billion humans…we actually produce enough food for that many people today but distribution and political problems often make it difficult to get food to people. The climate crisis is actually more of a manageable problem…and not even our most pressing problem at that but climate alarmism has become a industry and, as a old sailor I know used to say “the whole contraption is driven by steam”…

10th May 2024 at 9:12 pm
Kim Morton

There is most definitely an overpopulation problem in Canada, and the rest of the world. The ‘commentators” have an agenda, which does not necessarily correspond with that of all the other residents of earth. We are losing species at an alarming rate, and turning huge swaths of land into strip malls and condos for people from elsewhere.

10th May 2024 at 10:01 pm
Michael B

There are certainly the financial aspects impacting birth rates, but I’m guessing the major factor is social.
Québec parents, for example, have subsidised daycare, receive CCB payments amounting to several thousands in tax free income, are granted parental leave and are given priority for other social benefits (housing etc.). However, their birth rate per woman continues to drop, from 1.7 in 2008 to 1.33 last year.
Of course, having babies is entirely the choice of women and they have the option of abortion if something goes awry – almost 100,000 times in 2022. In my personal observations their viewpoints on having children are deeply affected by their childhood family life.
They see their mothers working full time at a job only to be run ragged with the majority of the household chores and childcare when they return home. They experience traumatic family breakup and reforming. Their mothers have no time to teach them how to cook, clean and and shop for groceries, so the girls (and boys) grow up without the basic knowledge required to maintain a household and are not inclined to do so. They far prefer to spend the necessary time on social media and their money on fast food. They are unequipped for child rearing and they know it.
In my opinion, mandatory, coed “domestic sciences” and personal finance courses throughout secondary school may make a difference. Throwing ever increasing amounts of taxpayers’ money on other programs doesn’t appear to be having an effect.

10th May 2024 at 5:49 am
Paul Attics

“They far prefer to spend the necessary time on social media and their money on fast food.”

Great comment but this sweeping and unsubstantiated judgement is unnecessary to make the point. Young people are choosing not to have families. The many varied activities that people choose to spend their resources on in lieu of rearing families is irrelevant, no?

10th May 2024 at 7:24 am
Michael B

Personal observations allow for sweeping and unsubstantiated judgement.

10th May 2024 at 11:44 am

Perhaps fathers could teach their children how to cook? Modern men are quite capable; once they move out of their parents’ house, and have to cook and clean for themselves, they really do catch on. I don’t see why all these things like household chores, cooking and childcare are assumed to be the woman’s job in addition to working full time. With assumptions like that, it is no wonder women can’t find a mate. What woman wants to be responsible for all that? Women today want men who are equal partners in the family. They want the men to do 50%. As soon as men realize that, the “fertility problem” may not be such a problem any more.

10th May 2024 at 7:55 pm
Kim Morton

What makes you think these young men are capable of cooking? Or doing housework? Or anything else important for that matter? My granddaughter(admittedly an over achiever) just finished first year engineering. As a project, they had to make a simple lever out of tin , with a limit switch. Many of the boys in her class had never used tin snips. She had to show some of them how basic tools work. Meanwhile, this girl just received her NFPA 1001certivicate (career FireFighter) last week, on her 19th birthday. Where will a girl like that find a mate she would be willing to breed with?

10th May 2024 at 10:22 pm

We now live in a country where every government and private industry job, plus subsequent promotions, is based on race, culture, gender and other factors that have nothing to do with the positions being filled. The result is a broken country, where very few people are the best fit for the job they are in. Destroy this wokeness and many of the countries problems will begin to be resolved. And the people will be happier.

10th May 2024 at 7:45 am
Paul Attics

“every government and private industry job, plus subsequent promotions, is based on race, culture, gender and other factors that have nothing to do with the positions being filled.”

Good grief. EVERY job and promotion, eh? Lay off the YouTube and whatever other outrage content you are consuming. You’ll be a lot happier.

Some elements of our society have certainly tipped too far into weighing identity as the most important thing. However, society seems to already be pulling back and/or correcting.

10th May 2024 at 8:09 am

If research continues to confirm the inverse relationship between population density and the fertility rate, then increasing the number of appartments/condos is secondary to getting affordable houses built. The much maligned low density housing developments and suburbs produce babies.

10th May 2024 at 12:27 pm

As the mother of a 28-year old single daughter and a 26-year old unmarried son (with a girlfriend) I hear from them why they are not making babies – so this will be anecdotal, but based on them and what their friends have said. From the women’s POV, they don’t want to marry for the sake of marrying. They want to marry someone with whom they are deeply in love, who loves and respects them, and who treats them as an equal. I’d they can’t find this, they prefer to remain single. Sadly, they find it hard to find men in their age group who are mature, responsible adults. They find it hard to find men who aren’t looking for a gorgeous wife who will also cook the meals, work full time, raise true kids, do the housework, etc. When asked by his girlfriend if he wanted kids, one young man answered “yes”. When asked what % of effort he expected to put into the child-rearing himself, his answer was: 20%. Needless to say, he is no longer a boyfriend. Young men saw their mothers working full-time, cooking the majority of meals, driving the kids to soccer, staying up late folding laundry and what they learned from that is: this is how it works. Young women saw that and said to themselves: I expect more from my husband. My son is thinking deeply about marriage. His main concerns are: is she the one? and, how will we ever be able to afford a house and kids? And they are both university educated with good jobs. These are the concerns I’m seeing among the young people in my orbit.

10th May 2024 at 9:31 am
Elizabeth Thorne

As I sit here coughing my way through a bout of COVID, it’s not over, I think of the several young women I know who don’t want to have children in a world of climate change and growing violence. I suspect the planet, as a whole is better off with fewer children. It can’t continue to support 9 billion people anyway.

10th May 2024 at 8:53 am
Al Raftis

I believe that the fundamental issue is both partners trying to have full time jobs. It is extremely difficult to do that and raise children even with low cost daycare. Couple that decide that one of them will have a part time job have a much better chance to be able to raise children with a reasonable life style. Our current government pushes the concept of full time employment to attract votes. Their responsibility to make the public aware of the downside to our low fertility rates doesn’t get them votes.

10th May 2024 at 8:49 am
Greg Jackson

As societies become more affluent, it’s members no longer focus on survival. They become consumed with the pursuit of wealth and “stuff”. In the west, that means both partners working in the hopes of getting that new BMW, or a bigger house in a better neighborhood. Materialism is what is killing fertility. If one parent could focus entirely on raising and caring for the family, it would not be too much to handle. However, they would have to live within the means provided by the other partner, in terms of income. They then may not be able to appease their desire for “stuff”.
I have read most of the comments in this forum, and the selfishness is apparent. When these people reach old age, they will realize what real wealth is. I recently attended a conference and ran into an acquaintance I have known for many years. He and his wife are very well-off, financially. Both are well-educated business professionals. They have no children. He told me that as he approaches the end of his working life, he has no one to carry on his legacy. When he dies, that’s it. He seemed very sad at that realization.
When you’re in your twenties, it’s hard to imagine what life will be like in fifty years. The costs and the personal sacrifices involved in raising and supporting a family seem daunting. You are consumed with the challenges of the day. When I bought my first house, the interest rate was 13 3/4%. At one point, it hit 20%.
My parents had to deal with the Great Depression and World War Two. I grew up during the Cold War, where a nuclear holocaust was an every day possibility. Where would you be if your parents threw up their hands and gave up on the world?
Now, as I look back on my and my partner’s life together, it all seems worthwhile. Our children grew up to be successful and responsible adults and their children are a source of profound joy. The payoff is worth the journey.

10th May 2024 at 3:44 pm
Kim Morton

Basically true, but perhaps you should ask educated women if they want to spend the best years of their lives barefoot and pregnant.

10th May 2024 at 10:10 pm

Good issue to focus on. We are losing an important part of our societal framework

10th May 2024 at 10:51 am
Joseph Ingram

I am surprised that someone with Tim Sargent’s education would arrive at the conclusion he has. He is either very Catholic or driven by conservative mythology. For the first several years of my professional life after completing graduate school in politicaI economy I worked at the IDRC in health and population sciences primarily in sub Saharan Africa and in the Middle East. One of the basic concepts to the discipline was the “demographic transition” which, with better health conditions for women, access to education and employment would inevitably result in lower fertility rates. This is an inevitable phenomenon as was shown then in Mali, Burkina, Cote D’Ivoire and Lebanon, and as is shown today in Italy, Japan, Korea and China – government financial subsidies notwithstanding. With almost 9 billion people on the planet today, and it’s carrying capacity vastly exceeded – itself contributing to global warming and resulting youth anxiety- the last thing we need today are higher fertility rates. Instead what we do need is well managed immigration and much smaller families. I am frankly shocked that CIGI would endorse such a sloppily conceived policy position.

10th May 2024 at 9:06 am
Michael B

I didn’t down-vote your comment.I agree that the global population is excessive.
However, the issue being discussed focuses on Canada. Without a population sustaining birthrate of 2.1 per woman our gov’ts are committing us to accept immigrants, whether invited or not. Generally, these incomers originate from countries with unsustainable populations. Those country’s resources and economies cannot meet the needs of their citizens. From what we are hearing, this rapid influx is straining our resources – housing, healthcare, education etc…
A natural increase in our native born and raised would allow time for adjustment.

10th May 2024 at 12:25 pm
Faye Perkins

I’m with Joseph on this one. I realize that Japan has had some economic challenges, but I’d much rather live there than in a country like India where the population keeps growing beyond its capacity. Quality of life FOR ALL is important.

10th May 2024 at 11:46 am
Michael B

Last I checked India’s birthrate was about 2,2 per woman, a massive decline from just a few decades ago. Nevertheless, their total population is still above self-supporting levels.

10th May 2024 at 6:55 pm

If you look at much older reports on housing, they often treat the number of people reaching adulthood as more or less identical with family formation and the need for houses in the near future. (And: mostly houses, not projecting a decade and a half of one-bedroom apartment living before a last-minute baby.)

Now, municipalities tend to look at the actual number of households (and children in those households) and claim they are meeting need. Yes, not everyone will or wants to marry or have children, much less at 18 or 20. But, I think we’ve nearly given up on the idea that that’s an adult life that should be possible for everyone and should be planned for. There was also arguably some poor planning with thinking boomers’ downsizing would free up houses, which ignores who has the money and therefore choice.

10th May 2024 at 8:44 am
william clarke

Your article interesting but its statistics do not seem to take into account that today many single people live with a partner and have children but do not get married.

12th May 2024 at 12:33 pm
Kim Morton

There are two reasons the declining birthrate is viewed as a problem.
1) our economic system is designed to function on an ever increasing supply of consumers.
2) our pension plans are a giant Ponzi scheme. And everyone knows what happens with them.

10th May 2024 at 10:32 pm