By Jessica Foley, Columnist, theWedge.LIVE ❤️ TO SHARE click icons at story’s end
Princess Diana once said, “Family is the most important thing.”
The Canadian family has shifted dramatically since the loss of our precious royal. Unsettling reports now reveal the Canadian population is in danger of extinction. This is not sensationalism. It’s a fact–and this revelation is spreading worldwide quickly.
Over the past forty years, our reproduction rate has tragically deteriorated. Canadians are not having enough babies to replace its population. Canada’s fertility rate has dropped to 1.5 children per childbearing woman. This is far below the statistical requirements to maintain the Canadian population.
“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.
“Despite some fluctuations, the total fertility rate in Canada has been below the replacement level for over 40 years. In fact, 1971 was the last year the replacement-level fertility of 2.1 children per woman was reached, meaning that couples, on average, had produced enough children to replace themselves.” Statistics Canada
Replacement-level fertility: Refers to the number of children per woman necessary for the population to replace itself taking into account mortality between birth and age 15, and in the absence of migration. Source: https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/11-630-x/11-630-x2014002-eng.htm
Declining fertility rates is a “social pandemic” (my words.)
In 1960, the global fertility rate was five – an average woman would birth five children in her lifetime. Now that same woman is not replacing herself or her spouse.
Even after taking immigration into account, the world is facing a crisis. Moving families around the globe does not increase the total number of people on this planet.
Why are families having fewer babies?
The movement of female empowerment is one among several causes for low birth rates. Women are now pursuing higher education, holding better paying jobs, and “family planning” is common.
Women are waiting until later in life to have children. This naturally lowers the number of babies a woman can have during her reproductive lifetime. Where once 20-year-old women would routinely be starting families, many are now in post-secondary education and just beginning to explore life outside the family home.
The empowering of women is so important to our global society, and by no means a perjorative reference, but it also plays a very large factor in family size.
Increasing rate of abortion
While couples around the globe struggle to create new life, women are also terminating unwanted pregnancies. During the period of 2010-2014 it was estimated that 55.9 million abortions occurred each year. (Source: Guttmacher Institute) Global abortion statistics are difficult to compile, due to many illegal clinics and procedures being done across the globe.
Abortion is not the only solution to unwanted pregnancies. Adoption is a healthier option for mother and child alike.
Life is increasingly expensive
The more children you have, the more you pay in medical costs, insurance, child care, and weekly bills like groceries and utilities. The Canadian government has some policies in place to support families and the rising cost of child care, but it’s not enough.
The expense of having multiple children is a drawback to having large families. If we want to increase the fertility rate, we have to take into account the explosive cost of living.
Over 70% of families have both parents in the workforce. It’s not an easy choice to leave your children in the care of others in order to earn enough to keep a roof over your head. Working parents have to be flexible and creative, and many mothers report a desire to work from home and be more present for their children.
Placing children in child care is very expensive. Some low income families qualify for subsidized care for their little ones when both parents return to work, but the Canada Child Benefit (a Canadian tax deduction geared to income) does not provide nearly enough financial aid for middle class families.
This unfortunate reality causes couples to have fewer or no children in order to maintain a bearable standard of living.
Chemicals and pollution
We are unwittingly killing spermatozoa, and mutating embryos, with the industrialization of the entire planet. This is a leading corollary of the ever-declining global fertility rate.
Sperm counts in men have decreased by more than 50% since the 1970s, as reported by Levine, Jørgensen, Martino-Andrade, et al. Source: Human Reproductive Update. While there is no consensus among all scientists and medical practitioners, it is widely agreed that the increased use of chemicals, herbicides, and plastics (which mimic estrogen in the body) are largely to blame.
The production of plastics surged in the 1940s. Since then plastics have increasingly littered our waters and leached phthalates and Bisphenol A into our food. High doses of these chemicals have been linked to hormone disruption.
Herbicides and pesticides are routinely sprayed – even at harvest — on the foods that come to rest on our tables, and are found all the way down to our boxes of Kraft Dinner and Cheerios, as the National Observer noted earlier this year.
Glyphosate, an herbicide widely used to kill weeds, has been positively identified in the foods we eat. This chemical has been linked to high rates of miscarriage, chromosome irregularities and hormone disruption. (Source: Sierra Club Canada Foundation) Glyphosate is the active ingredient in a commonly known weed killer; it is used by farmers and backyard gardeners globally.
The air we breathe
A study published in Environmental Health, July 2017, found that air pollution has detrimental effects on gametes (male and female sex cells) as well as embryo development. This has elevated the amount of miscarriages and stillbirths worldwide.
It’s clear these industrial pollutants are largely to blame for the declining global air quality.
How do we avert this humanitarian disaster?
Viktor Orban, prime minister of Hungary, has introduced groundbreaking new incentives for families. In his annual State of the Union Address, he announced Hungary will introduce waivers on personal income tax for women raising at least four children. He also introduced subsidies to help families afford larger cars and an extended loan program to assist families with two children purchase a house.
These are the essential measures all nations should be employing to lift fertility rates and prevent populations disintegrating to zero.
Finland provides new parents with “welcome baby” boxes, items like clothing, bedding and bath time accessories. These boxes are designed to give all babies an equal start in life. This falls short of a solution, but it encourages child bearing with a reward.
In Canada, parents may qualify for the Canada Child Benefit – a tax free stipend for eligible families to help with the costs of raising children until they reach eighteen years of age. This benefit is geared to income, and while the benefit has increased over the past year, it does not adequately address the need.
How can we help Canada get there?
Reach out to your politicians – locally, provincially and nationally. Get your voice heard and share your concerns. Politicians are only as powerful as the public who vote for them. It’s their mandate to listen to their constituents and act in their best interests.
If everyone wrote, called, or visited the offices and town meetings of the people in power, they would realize we are asking to save Canadians from extinction.
The federal election looms–now is the time to take action. Write your MP and share your concerns about the declining, extremely low fertility rate. Share the link to this article and offer your thoughts and what would benefit, and entice you to have (more) children. Choose candidates whose platforms support family growth.
Let your wallet speak
The health of our nation and the entire world will create lasting effects on the fertility rate and the assurance of future generations. We can shape the world by making the right choices.
If we can keep plastics and chemicals of our waterways and soil, our health will benefit, as will all humankind. The ripple effect of doing nothing on all life forms on earth is unimaginable.
It’s no wonder a recent release by renown authors entitled, “Empty Planet,” has become an instant bestseller. The truth is the world is severely underpopulated and may likely continue to shrink to “empty.”
If you can afford it, purchase organic produce and grains, and meats that have been raised without the use of hormones or antibiotics. Reducing the amount of chemicals we ingest will help future generations regain their vitality, and create fewer reproductive malfunctions.
Vigilance at the consumer level is the best way to let producers and retailers know what we want to see on our shelves.
The Canadian population is on a downward spiral. Immigration cannot support Canada as the entire globe is already way below its replacement rate. We need to find innovative ways to educate and support family growth.
We have within us the power to affect change.
Jessica Foley is a blogger and a busy mom who enjoys writing, photography, dancing, spending time outdoors, and reading. She lives with her husband and two daughters in Kingston, Ontario