China‘s birthrate dropped last year to its lowest level since the formation of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, adding to concerns of a long-term challenge for the government, as the ageing society and shrinking workforce pile pressure on a slowing economy.
To avoid a demographic crisis, the Communist government abolished the one-child policy in 2015 to allow people to have two children, but the change has not resulted in an increase in pregnancies.
In 2019, the birthrate stood at 10.48 per 1,000 people, down slightly from the year before, according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) released on Friday.
The number of births has now fallen for three consecutive years. Still, there were 14.65 million babies born in 2019.
Many young couples in China are reluctant to have children because they cannot afford to pay for healthcare and education alongside expensive housing
Meanwhile, divorce rates are hitting records. In the first three quarters of 2019, about 3.1 million couples filed for divorce, compared with 7.1 million couples getting married, according to data from the Ministry of Civil Affairs.
Lowest number of births since 1961
He Yafu, an independent demographer based in southern Guangdong province, said the total number of births in 2019 was the lowest since 1961, the last year of a famine that left tens of millions dead. He said there were approximately 11.8 million births that year.
US-based academic Yi Fuxian, senior scientist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, told the AFP news agency that even though China has abolished its one-child policy, there has been a shift in the mindset of the population, with people now used to smaller families.
According to official figures, China’s population stood at 1.4 billion by the end of 2019, increasing by 4.67 million from the year before.
But Fuxian believes that China’s population is over-estimated, and according to his work, the real population “began to decline in 2018”.
While China’s limit on family sizes could be removed altogether eventually, the demographer said citizens are still being punished for having three children, even though some areas have reduced punitive measures.
However, China has recently signalled that it might end limits on family size altogether. A draft of the new Civil Code, due to be introduced at the annual session of the rubber-stamp parliament in March, omits all mention of “family planning”.
‘Slow, long-term problem’
The one-child policy was introduced by former leader Deng Xiaoping to curb population growth and promote economic development, with exceptions for rural families whose first-born was a female, and for ethnic minorities.
The measure was mainly enforced through fines but was also notorious for forced abortions and sterilisations.
The result was dramatic: Fertility rates dropped from 5.9 births per woman in 1970 to about 1.6 in the late 1990s. The rate was below the level needed to replace the population – 2.1 births per woman.
The stagnated birthrate could pose a problem for the economy in the future, as the country’s workforce continued to shrink last year.
The NBS said 896.4 million people were of working age, between 16 and 59, in 2019, a drop from the 897.3 million in 2018.
This marks the eighth consecutive year of decline. The workforce is expected to decline by as much as 23 percent by 2050.
“The demographic problem is a slow, long-term one,” He told AFP.
“Because China’s education levels have been going up, in the short term, the population issue should not impact growth too much,” He told the news agency.
“But in the long run, if the trend continues, it would pose a huge drag on economic growth.”
Ontario adds 151K new jobs in July, majority are part-time positions – CTV Toronto
Ontario added 151,000 new jobs in July, the country’s national statistics agency said, but the majority of them were part-time positions.
After losing more than one million jobs in a three-month time span following the declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ontario added about 378,000 jobs in June. In July, employment in the province grew by 2.2 per cent.
The Labour Force Survey (LFS) released on Friday, which used the week of July 12 to 18 as a sample, said that businesses and workplaces across Canada have continued to reopen after being shuttered due to COVID-19 restrictions. At the same time, the survey was conducted while much of the province was still in Stage 2 of Ontario’s economic reopening plan.
“Although public health restrictions had been substantially eased in most parts of the country—with the exception of some regions of Ontario, including Toronto—some measures remained in place, including physical distancing requirements and restrictions on large gatherings,” Statistics Canada said.
Of the 151,000 jobs added in Ontario, Statistics Canada said that about 145,000 were part-time positions. The agency attributed that number to the fact that part-time workers were hit hardest by the shuttered economy months ago.
“This was due to a number of factors, including part-time work being more prevalent in industries that were most affected by the COVID-19 economic shutdown, namely retail trade and accommodation and food services.”
Ontario’s unemployment rate has now fallen to 11.3 per cent, down from 12.2 per cent the previous month.
In Toronto, employment also rose by about 2.2 per cent, with close to 26,000 jobs added in the city. Statistics Canada says that employment in Toronto has now reached 89.9 per cent of its February, pre-COVID-19 level.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford posted a brief message on social media Friday afternoon saying he was happy to see the July labour numbers.
“What I love are the job numbers today, 150,000 people going back to work, the premier said in a video on Twitter, noting that there is still work to do to rebuild the province’s economy.
“That is great news for the people of Ontario.”
About 419,000 jobs were gained across Canada in the month of July, reducing the national unemployment rate to 10.9 per cent.
16 new cases of COVID-19 reported in Manitoba Saturday – Global News
Manitoba public health officials announced 16 new cases of COVID-19 in the province Saturday.
That brings the total number of cases in Manitoba to 507.
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The province said Manitoba has now performed 100,074 tests for COVID-19 with 1,263 lab tests completed on Friday. The test positivity rate for Manitoba is 1.23 per cent.
The active caseload is 148 with 351 people considered recovered.
Nine people are in hospital due to the virus with three of those in the intensive care unit. The number of deaths attributed to the virus remains unchanged at eight.
Health officials say 12 of the new cases are from the Prairie Mountain health region and four are from the Southern health-Sante Sud health region.
While case investigations are ongoing, the province says a majority of today’s cases appear to be linked to known clusters in the Brandon area or close contacts.
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
South Regina Walmart sees second COVID-19 exposure alert in 2 days – CTV News
The Saskatchewan Health Authority has sent out a COVID-19 exposure alert for a Walmart in south Regina, for the second time in two days.
In a release, the SHA said the Walmart Grasslands location in Regina was possibly exposed to the virus on August 5, between 11:15 a.m. and 11:45 a.m.
Although risk of transmission to the public is low, the SHA is advising anyone who visited the store during the affected times to monitor for COVID-19 symptoms for 14 days.
The SHA sent out an alert about a separate instance of COVID-19 exposure at this location, in a release Friday.
Symptoms include fever, cough, headache, muscle and/or joint aches and pains, sore throat, chills, runny nose, nasal congestion, conjunctivitis, dizziness, fatigue, nausea/vomiting and diarrhea.
COVID-19 testing is available to anyone who wants it. If symptoms develop call 811 to get a referral for a test.
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