When Ryan and Ann Solomon got married, they knew they wanted to keep their
family small. Ten years and two children later, the couple knows they made the
right decision, given their situation.
With her husband a lieutenant-commander in the Royal Canadian Navy, and
frequently away either training or at sea, much of the day-to-day parenting
falls to Ann.
“We knew with Ryan’s naval career that there were going to be a lot of
periods of time when I would be by myself,” said Ms. Solomon, the 39-year-old
stay-at-home mother of Aidan, 9, and Ella, 6.
And when her husband’s job kept him absent for nine of the first 12 months of
Ella’s life, that “really cemented it for me,” she said. “Could I do it with
throwing another baby in the mix? The answer to that was definitely, ‘No way,
Jose.”‘ The Solomons’ two-kid family is typical among their circle of friends in
Ottawa. Indeed, couples with just one or two children have become the norm in
Canada, part of a trend of steadily dwindling family size that has been going on
since the early 1960s.
They’re not alone, according to population projections Statistics Canada
released Wednesday as part of the first release of data from the 2011 census. On
its current trajectory, the numbers suggest, Canada’s growth rate could be
almost entirely dependent on immigration within 50 years.
Canada’s birth rate is currently hovering around 1.67 children per woman,
well below the minimum of 2.0 needed for natural population replacement.
So why are Canadians having so few children?
Ever since the postwar baby boom, there’s been a drift towards smaller
families, said Susan McDaniel, Canada Research Chair in Global Population and
Life Course at the University of Lethbridge.
“And there’s all kinds of reasons for that, but one of the major ones would
be that we expect higher-quality children; we invest more time in them than we
That often means taking children to extracurricular activities and being
involved in their school and homework, Ms. McDaniel said.
“So there’s a lot of intensive parenting. And if you have a lot of kids, the
intensity of the parenting cannot be as big, of course.”
With many women working full-time while raising young children, the issue of
child care also comes into play, she said. “Because if you have to spend
everything you earn to put the child in daycare or if you can’t find a quality
daycare and you’re on a waiting list, it’s going to make you think about having
Although Canada’s birth rate has been stalled at roughly the same level for
years, there’s been a slight upward blip in the last decade, which Ms. McDaniel
said is attributable to a cohort of older moms having their first child.
“The bump-up seems to be that a lot of couples have postponed child-bearing
and then they get to the end of the child-bearing possibilities, or what they
perceive as that, and they have a child later.”
That was the case for Shayna Jaymie Murray and husband Chris of Regina, who
decided their family was complete with the birth of daughter Molly, now 20
“A lot of it has to do with my age and my husband’s age,” said Murray, 39.
“He’s just a year younger than I am. We’ve only been married a couple of years
and we decided sort of late in the game to have a family. So biologically it
made sense to have just one.”
While the desire for small families is keeping the birth rate low, Canada
doesn’t differ much from other Western countries. The anomaly is the United
States, where the national rate exceeds 2.0, though regional rates vary widely
across the country.
“It’s a mystery, we can’t figure it out,” said Ms. McDaniel, noting that the
U.S. has far fewer policies that encourage child-rearing – including access
to public daycare and tax benefits – than Canada and other developed
Religiosity could be a factor: Americans overall seem to be
more influenced by religion than their relatively more secular northern
neighbours. But that can’t be the entire answer, Ms. McDaniel noted – Italy
and Spain, primarily Catholic, have the lowest birth rates in Europe.
One theory making the rounds, based on research by Israeli economists,
posits that the huge earnings gap between rich and poor Americans provides a
pool of potential child-minders at the low end of the income spectrum, she
“Middle-class American women can... employ them to look after their
children and therefore have the luxury of having more children.”
For Canada, expanding our numbers means depending on immigration, which
accounts for two-thirds of population expansion. About 250,000 immigrants,
most of them from China, India, Pakistan and the Philippines, are accepted
into the country each year.
Some come from countries where economic, cultural and religious
traditions have made larger families common, said Jeffrey Reitz, a professor
of ethnic and immigration studies at the Munk School of Global Affairs at
the University of Toronto.
“Immigrants from Pakistan, for example, have higher birth rates, so they
bring more children with them,” Mr. Reitz said. “But the birth rate falls
definitely after a period of time in Canada. In other words, they assimilate
to our low-child mentality.
“The immigrants we get – highly educated people who are pursuing careers
and want to advance themselves – their family procreation patterns are more
or less the same as for the mainstream population and for the same reasons.”
And new Canadians’ adoption of the birth-rate norm persists as they put
down deeper roots in the country, Ms. McDaniel said. “The second- and
third-generation immigrants are indistinguishable” from other Canadians.
Casting their eyes forward, demographers at Statistics Canada predict
that in the coming decades, population expansion will become increasingly
dependent on immigration as natural growth – births minus deaths – continues
to slide. A huge part of that decline will result as the demographic bubble
of baby boomers reach old age and begin dying off.
At the current rate, if nothing changes, immigration – currently
responsible for 67 per cent of Canada’s population growth – could account
for 80 per cent of growth within the next 20 years, and nearly 100 per cent
by the year 2061, Statistics Canada says.
So looking into the faces of Canadians 50 years hence, will the country
look dramatically different?
“I don’t see it really looking a lot different in the future than what it
looks now,” McDaniel said. As older immigrants age and die, they will be
replaced by new immigrants, changing and enriching the threads that make up
the country’s multicultural fabric.
“I don’t see any great change to the face of Canada.”
The government can solve the problem with legislation promotion of functional
For example, parents who stay together and raise more than two children in the
same home should receive significant tax savings. Presently the tax system, the
child support guidelines and the Male Sharia Law all promote the destruction of
marriage and the removal of children's and father's legal rights.
Presently the child support guidelines and extreme feminist operated and
dominated judiciary give women absolute power to abuse which puts fathers in
poverty. Marriage, fatherhood is an extremely risky business with a greater
probability that a father will eventually not allowed to be a father.
Under these crazy illogical corrupt circumstances, it's amazing that Canada's
birth rate is not in further decline.
Memo to Mr. Harper, make sure you remember you are a father, think of all those
voting fathers in Canada who make up the majority, that's the group who can't be
fathers, who don't live with their kids, and if you changed the rules and made
innovative changes to the country's policy and legislation, you could
dramatically increase Canada's chances of escaping the present doomsday scenario
of a demographic disaster.
You can start with a legal presumption of equal parenting after separation,
reform of child support guidelines and end the debtors prisons, concentration
camps for fathers.