Young B.C. families are having fewer children and withdrawing from parenthood as the cost of living soars


Everything seems to get more expensive. Food, gas and housing prices are on the rise, while paychecks are slow to keep pace.

JCBC News’ Priced Out series explains why you pay more at the cash register and how Canadians cope with the high cost of everything.

Arden Matthews is 26 years old, engaged to their longtime partner and has a well-paying job in Vancouver.

Buying a house and settling down to start a family would be a natural next step, but Matthews says the idea of ​​having another mouth to feed is out of reach as the cost of living in British Columbia soars.

“It’s a conversation my partner and I have frequently. We can’t even really justify having concrete plans to start a family because the thought of owning, or even being able to rent a place with enough of space to raise a child in Metro Vancouver seems like a fantasy – it doesn’t seem like a real possibility to us at all.”

Matthews says it’s a feeling that’s become more common among friends and colleagues of the same age – a nagging feeling that having children will be financially unsustainable, even 10 years later.

“Nobody talks about having kids. We all expect one person in a group of friends to end up having a kid or two and everyone will be closely involved in that, but that’s what we can imagine closer.”

Matthews is not alone. Statistics Canada data showed that 19% of Canadians aged 19 to 45 say they plan to have fewer children than before the pandemic.

Another 14 percent say they have put off having children, citing economic pressures and the rising cost of living.

“It’s just not realistic”

Rising costs are hitting young families from almost every direction. In January, Canada’s inflation rate hit a 30-year high of 4.8%.

And Greater Vancouver has the highest monthly rents among metropolitan areas in Canada with at least one million people, at an average of $2,498 for a two-bedroom condo. This financial pressure forces families to have difficult conversations about how many children they can afford.

Parents aren’t just locked out of BC’s notoriously expensive cities.

In Campbell River on Vancouver Island, 29-year-old Danielle Gaudet dreamed of raising a big family. But after giving birth to her son Theodore, now two and a half, she says she fears having more children will prevent her from providing her son with the lifestyle she dreamed of. give him.

Danielle Gaudet, 29, says she dreamed of having a big family, but the rising cost of living in British Columbia means she will probably only be able to afford to have one child. (Submitted by Danielle Gaudet)

“Diapers have gone up $5-10 since I started buying [them]it’s just unbelievable and I can’t keep up,” said Gaudet.

“He’s such an energetic little guy, but we can’t afford gymnastics, we can’t afford sports lessons. I wish I had more kids, but it’s just not unrealistic. It really bothers me that my son is growing up without siblings and not experiencing that bond that so many people have with their siblings.”

“Very realistic conversations”

In July 2021, British Columbia became the first province to sign on to the Liberal pledge to spend $27.2 billion over five years to subsidize child care.

But Yuting Hsu, a midwife and mother-of-two in Surrey, says government promises have done little to ease the immense pressure on parents, even dual-earner families like hers.

“We love kids and wanted to have more of them,” she said, adding that she felt lucky to be able to use cloth diapers and breastfeed, which cut down on costs.

“We still feel the financial stress. I can’t imagine for families who need to buy disposable diapers and formula. I have friends who don’t have kids who are planning to have babies. kids or not, and we have very realistic conversations around that.”

At 26, Matthews says they know they have time to consider starting a family, but trying to plan years ahead is difficult when the future looks so uncertain.

“Every year there’s a new reason to think about next week and not 10 years from now… there’s just a very solid possibility that there’s a much, much smaller generation in this town because that people can’t afford to have children.”

Canada’s fertility rate has been on a steady decline since 2008, hitting a record low of 1.40 children per woman in 2020. Gaudet says she worries about the implications of a future with fewer children.

“Children are our future and if we don’t have babies, where are we going?”

Has the rise in food prices shocked you at the grocery store? Show us what you saw in your local supermarket and send a photo or video with a brief description to [email protected]. Be sure to also include your name and location. It can be featured on CBC News Network.


Comments are closed.