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Pandemic means some Canadians no longer planning to have children, or delaying plans

Has the pandemic affected your plans?
One in five Canadians are less likely to choose to have a child right now due to the pandemic.

It appears many Canadians who may have been considering having a child are delaying those plans.

Statistics Canada has released a study that looked at Canadians' plans for having children and the impact of the pandemic on those plans.

"The unique circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic may have led some individuals to delay or abandon their plans to have a child out of health concerns, or as a result of secondary effects of the pandemic such as job loss, reduced income, financial uncertainty or general stress," notes the study's authors.

Nearly one in five of those surveyed said they were delaying their plans to have a child, or planning to have fewer children due to the pandemic. Nationally, 19.2 per cent of respondents shared that sentiment. B.C. was fairly close to the national average, with 18.5 per cent agreeing with that.

At the same time, 4.3 per cent said they were moving up their plans to have a child; British Columbians were right on the average, with 4.2 per cent agreeing to that statement.

Nationally, more than three-quarters (76.5 per cent) said the pandemic hadn't changed their intentions (B.C. was at 77.3 per cent).

"Overall, the most common change to fertility plans was to delay having children: 14% of persons of childbearing age indicated that because of the pandemic, they now wanted to have a child later than before," noted the StatsCan researchers. "This finding is particularly meaningful given that Canada is a late-childbearing country, with the average age of mothers at time of delivery being 31.3 years in 2020."

They noted this may mean some women may delay growing their family to the point of not being able to have as large a family as they wanted.

People who weren't yet parents were also more likely to delay plans.

They also found people identifying as a visible minority were more likely to delay.

"This differential may partly reflect the fact that visible minorities have been disproportionately negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, whether measured through unemployment, financial difficulties, or COVID-19 mortality rates," said the authors.

The study broke respondents down in other ways, and some groups were more or less affected by the pandemic. In particular, millennials (aged 25 to 34) were affected in both directions, with 30.5 per cent saying they were less likely or delaying the choice to have a kid. On the flip side, 6.3 per cent were more likely or moving up their plans.

Another outlier were common-law couples; of those asked, 7.3 per cent said they were more likely or moving up their plans to have a child.