Baby boom?

Deana Stokes Sullivan
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N.L. birth rate on the rise

Baby Boom

After years in decline, Newfoundland and Labrador’s birth rate has been steadily increasing in recent years — and the trend is expected to continue this year.

It’s not known what’s causing what some are calling a mini baby boom, or whether it’s just a coincidence more babies have been born since the province announced increased child and family benefits two years ago.

According to statistics from the Department of Government Services, this year more than 3,300 babies were born in the province as of mid-September, with more than 1,700 of them delivered in St. John’s.

Last year, there were 4,935 births, with 2,629 of them born in St. John’s. That’s up from 4,905 births in 2008, which was up by more than 300 births over 2007.

Those figures are up by 400 to 500 annually above the number of births recorded in the province five years ago.

In 2004, Statistics Canada reported there were 4,488 births in the province, down from 8,929 in 1983. The decline was attributed to young men and women moving out of the province.

The Newfoundland and Labrador Centre for Health Information reported last year the province’s birth rate had reached the highest it had been in more than 10 years, which it termed a positive step for population growth.

The centre said between 1999 and 2007, there was a 10 per cent decrease in the number of live births, accompanied by a gradual increase in the number of deaths. But the birth rate rose from nine births per 1,000 population in 2007 to 9.7 per 1,000 population in 2008.

In 2008, the provincial government introduced a “progressive family growth benefit,” providing  $1,000 for every child born or adopted, plus a parental support benefit of $100 a month to parents for the first 12 months for each child born or adopted.

At the time, the government estimated there were 4,500 births and adoptions annually. Since then, the number of births alone has surpassed that figure by more than 400.

The new benefits are not taxable and are paid to families, regardless of their financial situation or employment status. The province estimated the cost of the program would be $12.4 million in 2008 and about $9.9 million annually thereafter.

Eastern Health, the health authority that delivers most of the babies in this province, has confirmed there’s been an increased demand in this area of health care.

Eastern Health spokeswoman Laura Woodford said there’s been about a 10 per cent increase in births in its jurisdiction over the past couple of years.

“We have responded and are addressing the issue,” Woodford said. “For example, we created four new permanent positions in the case room last year, and we also recently hired four new (neonatal intensive care unit) nurses with funding received in Budget 2010.

“We regularly monitor the situation and assess whether other areas of the system are impacted and address it accordingly,” she added.

Eastern Health has also been dealing with more high risk pregnancies recently, which prompted the authority to send some pregnant women outside the province for medical care.

Kevin Milligan, an associate professor of economics at the University of British Columbia, wrote a research article for the C.D. Howe Institute in 2002 on baby bonus initiatives in Quebec, similar to the Newfoundland government’s initiative announced in 2008.

Milligan concluded that while the goal of increasing family size was achieved in that province, with a 14.5 per cent increase in births from 1989 to 1996, the incentive cost the public purse more than $15,000 per additional birth.

Payments under the allowance for newborn children, announced in Quebec in 1988, initially included $500 upon the birth of a first child, $500 for a second child and the first of eight quarterly payments of $375 (totalling $3,000) when a third or subsequent child joined the household. By 1992, the benefits grew, with $500 still being paid for a first child, but $1,000 for a second and 20 quarterly payments of $400 (totalling $8,000) for a third or subsequent child.

Milligan said the Quebec government cancelled the program in 1997, with Families and Children Minister Nicole Leger calling it a “lamentable failure.”

He said his calculations suggested that 93,000 births between 1989 and 1996 could be attributed to the program, but while the pro-nationalist child benefit paid up to $8,000 to a family, the cost per additional birth was about $15,113.

Organizations: Government Services, Statistics Canada, Newfoundland and Labrador Centre for Health Information University of British Columbia C.D. Howe Institute

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Quebec

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Recent comments

  • Nikki
    November 03, 2010 - 14:49

    I would just like to say. This 1000 dollars for a child born and 100 a month is nothing to have a baby over. It doesn't even cover the pampers for a year, please think about what your saying people are not having money for 1000$ how desperate do you think people are?? It costs thousands of dollars just for a child to have its necessaitys not including what you want to buy them..or if the child is born unexpeectdl/early. this year i had a baby prematurely and since she was born and we were shipped out of province i have spent 19,000 since march..she is 7 1/2 months old.. what does that 1000 do for me ? Even though i havent received it yet..NOTHING it doesnt even pay for her high calorie milk for a month.

  • Bill
    October 06, 2010 - 14:56

    With a story like this one has to question government priorities. It is paying out about $10 million for residents to have children, and paying this non taxable bonus to everyone regardless of economic status, yet that same government says it cannot afford to consider doing anything with respect to the fact that its former employees have pension plans that have seen $0.00 increase since the late 1980's

  • W McLean
    October 06, 2010 - 14:12

    @ Deana Stokes Sullivan, the Statscan figures are only "projections" since January 2008. The figures up to the end of 2007 are the final, actual, figures, not preliminary estimates. Something isn't adding up, for the number of births (which is not the same thing as birth rate) to suddenly have spiked to the point where the estimates are off by 10% or more. Either the DoGS figures are wrong, or the StatsCan figures are wrong, but both can't be right at the same time.

  • Justsaying
    October 06, 2010 - 11:18

    LIVING AWAY...we may have the lowest teenage pregnancy rate in Canada but that is by population, since we have the lowest population compared to all the other provinces. As for the majority of the people putting the money away for education, I will have to say I know a lot of people who have had babies got the money and bought whatever they wanted. Flat screen tvs, video games systems. I know alot of children who do without so there parents can buy whatever they want out of the child tax benefit. Have you checked out to unemployment rate in Newfoundland lately and compared that to the number of employers seeking workers I am sure you will find that there is enough jobs out there and enough unemployed to fill them. Human Resources and Skills development Canada website posted that In 2009, Newfoundland and Labrador had the highest unemployment rate in the country at 15.5%, 7.2 percentage points higher than the national average of 8.3%. The provinces with the next highest unemployment rates were Prince Edward Island at 12.0% and Nova Scotia at 9.2%. Saskatchewan had the lowest unemployment rate in 2009 at 4.8%, followed by Manitoba at 5.2% and Alberta at 6.6%. How many of these Unemployed are presently in receipt of Social Assistance?

    • roland of gilead
      October 06, 2010 - 16:47

      I am a firm believer in those who want to work being able to find adequate work, however in newfoundland this is not true, more often those who look for work are unable to do so, let's not talk about unemployment statistics, lets talk about better public transit to reach the main work areas, and opportunities given to those who are trying to better themselves.

  • wickednewf
    October 06, 2010 - 11:12

    So an extra 30 from the year before? This is big news lol......

  • Deana Stokes Sullivan
    October 06, 2010 - 10:36

    Re: the Statistics Canada birth rates quoted by "Living Away," from 2005/2006 to present…2005/2006 - 4,526...2006/2007 - 4,495...2007/2008 - 4,516...2008/2009 - 4,472...2009/2010 - 4,480. These figures were projected figures, but the actual rates in the article came from the Newfoundland government and are higher. Total births in Newfoundland in 2009, for example, were 4,935, which is 455 above the Statistics Canada projection.

  • Living away.
    October 06, 2010 - 10:27

    The reason for the mini baby boom if you look at the statistic has more to do with more younger Newfoundlanders staying and working on the island and very little to do with the incentives implemented by the government. What a ridiculous statement to say that a $1000.00 one time pay out and $100.00 a month for a year would entice anyone to make that kind of decision. I am not sure who your friends are "Just saying too", however everyone I know that received any of the incentive money has put it away for their child's education. Please take note that according to Statistics Canada Newfoundland still has the lowest birth rate in the country. Here are the total number of births from 2005/2006 to present…2005/2006 - 4,526...2006/2007 - 4,495...2007/2008 - 4,516...2008/2009 - 4,472...2009/2010 - 4,480. Now you tell me…do you think there has been huge increases in the birth rate? One more note…Newfoundland has one of the lowest teenage pregnancy rates in Canada.

  • Justsaying
    October 06, 2010 - 09:18

    I know it is ridiculous. No wonder we have the highest unemployment rate in Canada. I agree with Justsayingtoo. People go and have kids with their boyfriends, get Social services to pay for everything, then they use the old oh my boyfriend left me, or my husband left me, then the boyfriend or husband lives with them while they work and they bring in more money. Now if for arguments sake me and husband got divorced and I were to go to Social services for help, I would be given the help no doubt but if I were to find a job then I would be expected to pay Social services back. Yet people can go on Social services from the time they turn 19 until forever. Social services is abused here in Newfoundland. It should be a short term help to those who need it not a long term solution for the lazy. Makes me so sick. I see all these families trying to make ends meet. There loved ones are forced to work out of province and go long periods without seeing there spouse and kids. Then the people working here in the province are taxed out the butt so the social services can benefit. I think you should have to get a doctors note for sickness(oh I got a bad back, I can't work), or a note from your lawyer for divorce, a drug/alcohol check and criminal record check in order to be considered for Social services. Then there should be a limit on the amount of time you can draw just like EI. Then we have the people who are laid off every year working seasonal jobs, that have to fight for a little bit of EI Benefits. Oh, I wish I didn't get started on this issue today.....LOL! I could ramble on forever.

  • kary
    October 06, 2010 - 09:17

    Yeah, sorry about that Newfoundland, I haven't been able to get to the store and pick up a box of condoms. I'll try to be more careful next year.

  • M
    October 06, 2010 - 09:11

    I JUSTSAYING is mostly right about the boom and right on the mark about the CCTB. I also think that it is a lack of sexual education in the schools and the increase in younger parents whose kids are also getting pregnant young. What kid at 16 or 17 doesn't think that $1000 dollars would be pretty awesome - all you have to do is have a baby! They aren't educated enough about what comes after delivery. I was in my late twenties when I started my family and had my first child, and in my 30s when I had my second. I got the Provincial bonus for my second, but it was far from motivation to have the child. The CCTB is a farce - I think that the amount of family income should be irrelevant and the amount paid should be stable until the cut-off age instead of declining. The cost of your children doesn't decline as they get older. (In most cases it increases!) I also think that the Universal Childcare Benefit should be non-taxable. I get the amount because of a financial need for it each month. Even though you can opt not to have it I don't think we should have to pay taxes on it at the end of the year.

  • Just Saying TOO
    October 06, 2010 - 08:45

    I have to agree with "Just Saying". Raising a child these days is expensive especially if you want to give them extra cirricular activities (i.e. playing hockey/soccer/basketball, dance, music, etc.) to help keep them active and off the streets and out of trouble. Because my family is not considered low income I don't receive the extra benefits as low income families of GST/HST, minimal almost to no baby bonus per month and therefore I have to dip into my own pocket to fund all of this stuff for my child (the reason I decided only to have one child) the end of the day and all the extras are paid, bills are paid I should be looked at as low income!!! The low income people get things handed to them way to EASY and no wonder their all sat on their butts all day long popping youngsters and can't afford to feed them/provide for them...they spend the extra government money on their smokes/booze for the week!! Then they are living in a paid apartment, with heat and light practically given to them, boyfriend living with them (working and making money!) and taking in children as a daycare. Makes me sick! The likes of these people should be made only to have one child if any at all. The government makes me sick too giving, giving, giving to the people that I work day in and day out to give them a paycheque!!! They should have to atleast work a few shifts per week to gain this money...shovel old peoples driveways in the winter, clean up the city...see how fast they'd all find jobs then!! If the Govt. keeps giving money to help the lazy then they'll take it!! Get off your BUTTS and go to work - lots of jobs out there!!!

  • harry lundrigan
    October 06, 2010 - 08:39

    wish i were young again i make extra thousand dollars a year making babies geeee done it for free before lol .

  • Justsaying
    October 06, 2010 - 08:17

    I think the reason for this baby boom is that all the low income families, especially those on social services are having more kids to benefit from all the Child Tax money they are getting, plus the $1000 - 2000 cash incentive is a great push to those in need of a little cash. I think the amount of child tax should be the same no matter what your income, it should be based on the child, not the family income. I spend just as much to raise my kids as any low income family, some days probably more.