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In 2008, 377,886 babies were born in Canada, up 2.7% from the year before and the sixth consecutive annual increase. The advance, however, was lower than the gains of 3.7% in 2007 and 3.6% in 2006.

The number of births rose in every province and territory, except in the Northwest Territories. The largest percentage increases occurred in Newfoundland and Labrador (+7.6%), Prince Edward Island (+6.8%) and the Yukon (+5.1%).

Slight rise in fertility

The total fertility rate in Canada in 2008 was 1.68 children per woman on average, edging up 1.3% from 1.66 in 2007. This was the highest rate since 1992.

On the other hand, the increase in the total fertility rate was well below the gains of 4.6% in 2007 and 2.8% in 2006.

The total fertility rate in 2008 remained lower than the generational replacement level of 2.1 children per woman. This is the fertility rate that must be maintained to replace the population in the absence of migration.

The highest fertility in the country was in Nunavut (2.98 children per woman), the Northwest Territories (2.08) and Saskatchewan (2.05). In contrast, British Columbia had the lowest fertility at 1.51 children per woman.

Fertility highest for women in their early 30s

For a fourth consecutive year, the age-specific fertility rate was highest among women aged 30 to 34. In 2008, the rate was 107.4 births per 1,000 women aged 30 to 34, compared with 102.0 for women aged 25 to 29, the second highest rate.

The fertility rate for women aged 30 to 34 was higher than all other age groups in Ontario, British Columbia, Nova Scotia, the Northwest Territories and Yukon.

However, in the other provinces, the highest fertility rate was for women aged 25 to 29, while in Nunavut it was for women aged 20 to 24.

More women in their early 40s having babies

More women in their early 40s are having babies. Between 1988 and 2008, the age-specific fertility rate for women aged 40 to 44 more than doubled from 3.6 to 8.4 births per 1,000 women.

Although the fertility rate for this age group continues to increase, it remains well below the fertility rates of all other age groups under 40.

Among the provinces, British Columbia had the highest fertility rate for women aged 40 to 44.

Definitions, data sources and methods: survey numbers, including related surveys, 3231 and 3234.

Available on CANSIM: tables 102-4501 to 102-4516.

The 2008 issue of Births (84F0210X, free) is now available from the Key resource module of our website under Publications.

For more information, contact Client Services (613-951-1746; fax: 613-951-4198; To enquire about the concepts, methods and data quality of this release, contact Patricia Schembari (613-951-9502), Health Statistics Division.