NB's Population Crisis

Letter to The Daily Gleaner
Dear Editor:
So New Brunswick has a population crisis! ("Population crisis looms," Oct. 27) And it’s not the too-few-babies kind, but the too-many-babies kind that my Grade 10 daughter was still hearing about last week from an outdated school text! Our population is aging fast, demographers say, and it’s because our fertility rate is so low: only 1.4 child born per woman on average in our province, well below the 2.1 needed just to maintain the population. What’s to be done? As the population analyst noted in the article, immigration is not the panacea. "The main factor is fertility," he said. How can we encourage couples to have more children? As your paper’s editorial helpfully noted ("Fight the Greying of New Brunswick," Oct. 30), growing our economy could create a positive environment for child-bearing. But that’s still not the whole answer. Booming Alberta does not enjoy a replacement-level fertility rate either. There are deeper than economic reasons why the world’s most prosperous countries all struggle with negative fertility rates. When I lived in super-wealthy West Vancouver, I noticed people had more pets than children. Why? In my opinion there is a spiritual malaise than results in Canadians undervaluing children. We have other priorities that kids interferes with. There’s also the undeniable impact of abortion. If Canada had no abortions (100,000 per year), the birth rate would be a healthy 2.0 rather than 1.5 per woman. Most women have abortion not because they want to but because they feel pressured to or lack sufficient information about available choices. There is much we citizens - and our governments - can do to relieve those pressures and provide that information. To resolve our population crisis we need a strongly pro-child public policy. But do we have the courage to create an atmosphere where children already conceived but not yet born will have the opportunity to take their place among us? Peter Ryan

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