Older moms spur mini baby boom

The Canadian Press ~ The News
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OTTAWA - Older moms delivered a slight baby boom in 2007, a statistical jump that will continue to fray the national patchwork of child-care services, advocates warn.
Statistics Canada reported Tuesday that 367,864 babies were born that year - 13,247 or 3.7 per cent more than in 2006.
The number of births rose in all age groups, particularly among mothers aged 30 to 34, and in every province and territory except Prince Edward Island and Yukon.
The number of babies born in 2007 was the highest since 1995 and the fifth straight annual increase. More than half the jump in births, 56 per cent, was traced to women aged 30 or older.
Improved maternity and parental benefits allowing eligible parents to stay home for about a year have helped families, said Jody Dallaire of the Child Care Advocacy Association of Canada.
But the vast majority of parents want or need to return to full-time work once that cash dries up, she said. And they often face intense stress finding safe, reliable child care that is also affordable.
"It's going to be tough for those families to balance their life and work responsibilities," Dallaire said.
It's not unusual for unsubsidized child care to cost about $1,200 a month - if you can find it.
Nadine Goguen, 34, of Moncton, N.B., is expecting her third child in January.
The full-time public servant has a master's degree in business administration. She had her first child at 29.
Many mothers wait a bit longer to have children "to get established career-wise," she said. The trick is finding reliable, high-quality care that allows new moms to get back to work.
Goguen has created a computer spread sheet to help her track centres where a rare space might open for a baby as a young as four months old.
Most centres in the province don't accept children younger than 15 months, she explained. Goguen's potential pool of high-quality spaces is even smaller because she also wants her children to be taught in French.
"We want to raise our children to be fluently bilingual."
Just as more babies were born in 2007, federal funding for new child-care spaces was shrinking.
A report last week cited a drop in total federal transfers for regulated child care to $600 million in 2007-08 compared to $950 million the year before and $725 million in 2005-06.
Co-author Martha Friendly, an early learning researcher who tracks provincial services, said 77 per cent of working mothers had children aged three to five in 2007. But there were only enough regulated spaces for 20 per cent of kids up to the age of five.
According to StatsCan, total fertility rates - the average number of children per woman - increased to 1.66 in 2007 from 1.59 in 2006.
While that was the highest total fertility rate since 1992, it remained well below the level of 2.1 children per woman needed to offset deaths.
That is the fertility rate that must be maintained to replace the population in the absence of migration.
The upward trend is not unique to Canada. In recent years, total fertility rates rose in other countries, including Spain, Sweden, Britain and Australia.
Four provinces - Alberta, Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia - accounted for 83 per cent of the total increase in births.
Nunavut had the highest fertility in the country, 2.97 children per woman. Among the provinces, Saskatchewan women had the highest total fertility rate, 2.03.
In contrast, Newfoundland and Labrador had the lowest fertility rate, 1.46.

Organizations: Statistics Canada, Child Care Advocacy Association of Canada

Geographic location: OTTAWA, Prince Edward Island, Yukon Moncton Canada Spain Sweden Britain Australia Alberta Ontario Quebec British Columbia Nunavut Saskatchewan Newfoundland and Labrador

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