For Canadians, having children should be seen as a social duty
Have more kids, not less.
Canada, along with many other Western countries, has come to a type of crossroads.
Over the past 150 years, Canada has changed from a high-fertility society where women had many children during their lives to a low-fertility society where women are having fewer children overall and at increasingly older ages.
This is the general trend, despite some fluctuations. The total fertility rate in Canada has been below the replacement level for over 40 years now. If you are wondering when the last time Canadians were reaching the replacement rate, where families would average 2 children to replace themselves, you’d have to go all the way back to 1971, nearly 50 years ago.
In developed countries, demographics are becoming more and more of an issue. When this problem (and let’s not beat around the bush, it is a problem) is brought up in conversation, I usually hear that the answer is immigration. And to that I say, immigration from where?
This trend is noted in Europe as well. If essentially every country within the European union besides France is below replacement, averaging between 50 and 60 percent of the numbers needed to keep the population stable, where will the immigration be coming from to replace 50 percent of the population? And at what cost?
Take the one child policy in China, for example. China is currently floating at half replacement, and although they have lifted the one child policy, there has now been a culture built around only having one child.
Where is China going to find 650 million people to replace the ones who were never born? Never before in human history has there been such a loss in population, including the black plague, which has estimates of anywhere from one-in-three to one-in-four
We have seen more and more headlines as of late coming from government officials stating that Canada is aiming to increase the number of immigrants that it accepts a year, along with long term goals that have raised eyebrows like the ambitious goal to have Canada’s population reach 100 million by the year 2100.
As Elon Musk put it in an interview where he discussed demographics, “I think people are going to have to regard to some degree the notion of having kids as almost a social duty, within reason, I mean… If you can, and you’re so inclined, you should. Otherwise, civilization will just die.”
Immigration is wonderful. I say that full-heartedly, as a child of an immigrant mother from Mexico and whose grandparents are of European decent, immigration is inseparable from the history of the Americas. But since when have the floodgates been so open?
Instead of bringing people in to become Canadians, we have perfectly functional means of making Canadians right here: The uterus.
And this is where semantics come in to play. Within the last few years, I have seen article after article telling me not to have kids. As pointed out by Candice Malcolm, even the CBC has put out articles suggesting Canadians should have less kids.
There’s no shortage of articles that say having kids is bad for the environment, that it makes you unhappy, that it’s too expensive. I find these arguments particularly annoying for a number of reasons.
For one, I’m not going to not have a child, just because the ocean is full of plastic, or whatever. Why should we damage our replacement rate if every other country isn’t going to hop on board with us? Because it’s a poor, short sighted idea. I’m not going to deprive myself of having children because a turtle got a straw up its nose. Sorry.
Secondly, who are you to tell me that having kids will make me unhappy? When are you surveying these parents, within the 6 months of no-sleep and cleaning diapers? That sounds like it would have an impact on surveys asking people if they’re happy, but unless you’re some psycho op-ed mom, in the long run, you’ll be happier that you had your child.
And finally, “it’s too expensive.” To this point, I say sure. It is not cheap to have a child. So this is where I plead to our government.
Canada should initiate law that makes it easier to parents to have children, beyond tax cuts. Let’s follow in the footsteps of countries like Italy and Hungary in these regards. For example, in Hungary, mothers with a family of four or more children no longer pay any income tax at all.
Italy has been proactive in the larger-family movement as well, following the train of thought that immigration may not be the only clear-cut solution to the population problem. In Italy if you have a third child, the government will now be looking into giving free plots of land.
So what steps should Canada take? Well, considering the high amount of Canadians that are in student loan debt, perhaps incentivizing a system in which a percentage of the debt is removed.
According to Statistics Canada, the average Canadian university graduate finishes school with more than $26,000 in student debt. What if we cut 25 percent for each child born? Surely this would allow for much more financial freedom, allowing families to start and grow.
There are plenty of people throughout Canada who feel as though a child isn’t in the cards because they’re not in the right financial position; well what if having a child actually helped your position?
There’s no need to close the borders to immigrants, but please, let’s not be so short sighted. We have options here that don’t involve complicated issues around integration. If you can, and you’re so inclined to, children should be in your future.