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Between increased mortality and dramatically decreased immigration, the Covid-19 pandemic has already had serious effects on Canada’s already aging population — and it may end up changing fertility rates too, new research from Statistics Canada suggests.

In a new report examining some of the social impacts of Covid-19, StatsCan noted that the pandemic has affected Canadians’ plans for having children.

For instance, the agency reported that 18% of those aged 25 to 44 said that they now plan to delay having children as a result of the pandemic. And, 14% said that they intend to have fewer children than they did before.

“This was especially the case for Canadians who were not married or in a common-law relationship; they were more likely to report that they now want to have children later, than were Canadians in a couple,” StatsCan said.

Single people were also more likely to say they wanted to have fewer children, compared with those who were married or common law, it noted.

“While these results could point to declining fertility in Canada, at least in the short term, as a consequence of the pandemic,” the study also noted that another, albeit smaller, share of Canadians have adjusted their plans in the opposite direction: seven per cent said they want to have children sooner, and 4% want to have more kids.

StatsCan said that future research will look at “how these opposing trends in fertility intentions might impact fertility rates, and will explore the profile of individuals changing their childbearing plans because of the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Alongside the findings on fertility, the study noted that the pandemic has increased Canadians’ reported stress levels, particularly for women, the 25 to 54 age group, the LGBTQ2+ population, and people living with children.

“Overall, 46% of Canadians indicated that their perceived stress level was somewhat or much worse than it was prior to Covid-19,” the report said.

Among people living with children, 54% said their stress levels had gotten worse, compared with 43% of those without kids.

“These results were expected in the context of the increased demands that were placed upon parents of young children during times of school closures and restrictions of other activities,” StatsCan said.

In separate research, the agency also reported that mental health has deteriorated and life satisfaction has declined during the pandemic.

Before Covid-19 hit, 67% of Canadians reported “excellent or very good” mental health. This dropped to 54% in April 2020, and was down to 48% by April 2021, StatsCan reported.

Additionally, Canadians’ life satisfaction has decreased. “In 2018, average life satisfaction was 8.09 on a scale of 0 to 10, compared with 7.02 in April 2021,” StatsCan said.