Quebec birth rate drops for 6th straight year

Quebec's birth rate has been dropping slowly and steadily since 2009, with 86,800 babies born in 2015 - a one per cent drop from the previous year.

86,800 babies were born in the province in 2015, representing a 1% drop in birth rate from 2014

There were 86,800 babies born in Quebec in 2015. (Denis Sinyakov/Reuters)

Quebec's birth rate has been dropping slowly and steadily since 2009.

Preliminary data for 2015 shows that last year, Quebec's fertility rate was 1.60. That figure estimates the average number of children that women between 15 and 49 years of age will have in a lifetime.

The province's data-gathering agency, L'Institut de la statistique du Québec says 86,800 babies were born in 2015. That's a drop of about one per cent from 2014.

After falling dramatically in the 1980s and once again in the the early 2000s, Quebec's birth rate peaked at 1.73 children per fertile woman in 2008 and 2009. 

That came in the wake of Quebec's takeover of parental insurance in 2006, offering parents more flexibility in taking leave, more time for paternity leave and increases in the maximum insurable income.

'Baby bump' is over

"We were, maybe, more talking of a baby bump. It was a small growth, but it wasn't anything to compare with the baby boom in 1960," said provincial demographer Chantal Girard.

Last year, the birth rate was highest in Northern Quebec, where the rate was 2.3 children per woman of child-bearing age. The Chaudière-Appalaches and Abitibi-Témiscamigue regions were also noticeably higher than the rest of the province at 1.8 children per fertile woman. The birth rate was lowest in Montreal, at 1.5 children per fertile woman.

Although the latest federal statistics available are from 2012, Girard said Quebec has a slightly higher birth rate than the rest of the country.