Macleans Cover Story
Canada’s Low Birth Rate Leading to Demographic Crisis
By Gudrun Schultz and Steve Jalsevac

TORONTO, Canada, May 23, 2007 ( - The plummeting birth rates in developed nations around the globe were the subject of a lengthy cover story in Maclean’s magazine this week, with Canada’s own demographic crisis taking center stage.

With a birth rate of just 1.5 children per woman--an all-time low--Canadian society is already beginning to feel the impact of a withering population, wrote Macleans journalist Lianne George. A healthy replacement birth rate is 2.1 children per women.

“Across the country, women on average aren’t having their first child until the age of 31,” George wrote. “Elementary schools and daycare facilities, without enough kids to fill the nap mats, are closing for business.”  Another article stated that in Ontario 300 schools have been closed due to a drop in that province of 90,000 school children.

Ontario’s Ministry of Education predicts that, by 2010, total elementary and secondary school enrolment will drop by nearly 100,000 students from 2002 numbers.”

The lack of skilled workers--and workforce members at any skill level--is expected to reach a shortfall of 1.2 million by 2020. With most of the industrialized world facing the same shortage, the massive increase in immigration necessary to counter the population loss will be hard to come by, said Carleton University professor Linda Duxbury.

“The numbers that we’re talking about are phenomenal,” Duxbury said. “Half a million to two-thirds of a million per year.” Canada currently averages about 240,000 new immigrants annually.

Canada’s situation is mirrored all over the developed world, George wrote, with some countries, such as Japan, in even worse shape--Japan’s birth rate has reached the record low of 1.26 children per women.

Among the reasons cited in the article for the reduction in births are the financial costs of raising a child, the career blow professional women face when they embark on motherhood, and the problem of infertility among women attempting to begin a family towards the end of their fertile years.

As well, the author acknowledges a growing disinterest in taking on the demands and sacrifices of parenthood in a society that values autonomy and control.

“In a hyper-individualistic, ultra-commodified culture like ours, motherhood, for better and worse, is less a fact of life than just another lifestyle choice.”

As with most similar reports published in recent years, some key, but politically incorrect, issues affecting birthrates are not covered in the Macleans article.

There is no mention of the dramatic collapse in the rate of religious belief and practice in Canada. Studies have repeatedly indicated a clear link between the degree of a lived traditional religious life of a nation’s people and their willingness to have and raise more children. 

Statistics Canada reported last August that in 2004 Canadian Muslim women, with a birth rate of 2.41 children per woman, were the only religion with a replacement birth rate. Hindus rated second at 2.0. Buddhists, Orthodox Christians and non-believers had the lowest birth rates, while the previously high birth rate of Protestants and Roman Catholics has plummeted to 1.57 children. Not coincidentally, Canadian Christians are among the most liberal and dissident in the world.

While birth control was briefly mentioned as a possible contributing factor, abortion was skimmed over with an off-hand comment referring to France’s consideration of “paying women not to go ahead with abortions,” as a method of addressing the birth rate deficit.

Although largely ignored by population demographers as a factor in plunging birth rates, an estimated 46 million abortions take place annually on a global scale, with a majority occurring in the developed or developing world. In Russia, where the falling birth rate has contributed to an annual population loss of 700,000 people, the abortion rate is one of the highest in the world. Conservative estimates show that 60 percent of all pregnancies end in abortion.

In Canada, the latest statistics available show an abortion rate of more than 103,700 abortions performed annually.