Edmonton economist warns of baby boom: ‘Be prepared’

Click to play video 'Edmonton in the midst of minor baby boom' Edmonton in the midst of minor baby boom
WATCH ABOVE: Edmonton's city's chief economist says the capital region is in the midst of a minor baby boom. John Rose says all levels of government need to be prepared or it could have a big impact on the workforce. Kent Morrison reports – Nov 22, 2017

John Rose knows numbers. The numbers that recently caught the attention of Edmonton’s chief economist are the numbers of babies being born.

“We’ve got a little bit of a baby boom going on,” Rose said. “Well above the national average.”

According to Statistics Canada, there were 50,560 children four years old and under in Edmonton in 2011. In 2016, that number jumped to 88,120.

“The city and the province and the federal government need to step up their efforts in terms of child care,” Rose said. “It’s not only a question of the welfare of the children, it’s an important economic issue.

“By providing the child care, we will boost the availability of particularly women to our labour force and that’s going to be a good thing for the city’s economy going forward.”

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READ MORE: A snapshot of Edmonton’s growth in 2016

Cities outside Edmonton are feeling the pressure of the so-called boom. The St. Albert Family Resource Centre is almost always full.

“Most of our programs have waiting lists of at least three to five kids at any given time,” said Shelley Passek, executive director of the resource centre. “Our preschool is busy, all our early childhood parented and un-parented classes are full.”

Whitney Rutherford is a new mother. She and her son Grayson go to the St. Albert Family Resource Centre. She is one of eight mothers on leave from her job in health care.

“I don’t ever, in my entire time in health care, ever remember working where that many people have gone off, there might be a boom.”

Rutherford considers herself lucky, she has family that can take care of her son when it is time for her to go back to work.

“I think it’s too early for me to be thinking about schools for him,” she said. “But I know where he would end up going.”

READ MORE: Edmonton population grows by 2.5% but fewer people completed census

Christa Warwa is another mom in the group. She said so far, every program she has signed her son Jacob up for, he’s been accepted.

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“I’m OK with the baby boom. The more the merrier,” she said.

Millennial migration behind the boom

According to Rose, the number of millennials moving to Edmonton over the past few years for work has created the baby boom. Those workers have stayed and are now raising families.

“We have a lot of people in the city Edmonton between the ages of 18-45,” Rose said. “We’re seeing in the bottom of our age spectrum, in those ages between one and five years old, a growth in our population well above the national average.”