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October 5, 2021

New Statistics Canada Data Show COVID Is Impacting Fertility in Canada

New data show that fertility rates declined during pandemic and some couples are delaying childbearing.

October 5, 2021

Nathan Battams

In a recent commentary published in Canadian Studies in Population,1 demographer Ana Fostik explored the available research and data on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on fertility in Canada, which suggests that a reduction in the total fertility rate is likely – at least in the short term.

Bringing together international research and Canadian data, Fostik outlines how the ongoing uncertainty and deteriorated labour market conditions resulting from the pandemic could be making couples more risk-adverse and hesitant to embark on long-term commitments such as having a child.

Newly published data from Statistics Canada shed light on this commentary and show that:

  • In 2020, the total fertility rate was 1.40 children per woman, down from 1.47 in 2019.
  • Between 2019 and 2020, there was a 3.6.% decrease in the number of live births and the lowest number of births in any year since 2006.2

While it is too early to tell whether these reductions are the results being delayed or foregone altogether, new data from the Canadian Social Survey: COVID-19 and Well-being (CSS-CW) show many people reporting that the pandemic has impacted their fertility aspirations and plans, along with other information on the health and well-being of select populations.

Among respondents aged 25 to 44 surveyed in April to June 2021…

  • Nearly 1 in 5 (18%) said they now want to have a child later than previously planned because of the pandemic, with a higher rate (23%) among those who were not married or living common-law (vs. 15% among those in a couple), indicating intentions to delay family planning.
  • Approximately 1 in 7 (14%) said they want to have fewer children than before because of the pandemic, with a higher rate (18%) among those who were not married or living common-law (vs. 12% among those in a couple),3 indicating intentions to have fewer children.

As noted in Fostik’s commentary, while many couples may want to have children later or not at all, research has shown that some will “take advantage” of periods of unemployment and choose to have children then. This was reflected to some degree in the CSS-CW, in which 7% of Canadians aged 25 to 44 said they now want to have children sooner and 4% said they want to have more children than prior to the pandemic.

Access Canadian Social Survey: COVID-19 and Well-being from Statistics Canada

Learn more about COVID impacts on families and family life

Nathan Battams is a Knowledge Mobilization Specialist at the Vanier Institute of the Family.


  1. Ana Fostik, “COVID-19 and Fertility in Canada: A Commentary,” Canadian Studies in Population (September 3, 2021). Link: https://bit.ly/3tt3qia. This article builds on “Uncertainty and Postponement: Pandemic Impact on Fertility in Canada,” published by the Vanier Institute in June 2020.
  2. Statistics Canada, “Births, 2020,” The Daily (September 28, 2021). Link: https://bit.ly/3irFIOX.
  3. Statistics Canada, “Canadian Social Survey: COVID-19 and Well-being,” The Daily (September 24, 2021). Link: https://bit.ly/3zSyidq.