11:14:45 pm on
Saturday 22 Jun 2024

Embracing Opportunity
David Simmonds

Experts predicted the pandemic would produce a baby boom, with all those young parents-to-be sitting at home, nothing else to do. The experts were wrong. They obviously hadn’t considered the adverse effects on fecundity Netflix-binging would impose.

Birth rate in sharp decline.

Instead, according to a report in the Globe and Mail last weekthe birth rate in Canada has dropped sharply. Some 14,134 fewer children were born in 2020 than in 2019.   The same trend emerged for England, France and the United States.  People are no doubt thinking ahead, worried about the unknown additional responsibilities of parenthood in a Covid or even a post-Covid world.

Accounting for some of those births that didn’t happen are would-be parents that made the decision not to have children at all or not to have any more children.  There is also a huge cohort, say 10,000 babies worth in Canada, that decided only to postpone having children and, who, as the pandemic fades into the New Year (touch wood), will want to start making up for lost time.

Making up for lost time reminds us that couples will feel a sort of pressure to produce results. This makes it important they can find an environment in which to relax and let nature take its natural course.  Perhaps the government could make a spa weekend a tax deduction.

 That is where the County enters the picture.  It has been looking for gimmicks to draw people here in the off season. Roughly 6,500 of those 10,000 babies will be born to residents of Ontario and Quebec and with the right marketing, good number of those 6,500 babies could be conceived in the County. 

What better gimmick could there be than a campaign to encourage people to come to the relaxed environment of the County to make their babies?   Catchy campaign slogans just roll off the tongue: “We Can’t Conceive of a Better Place” or perhaps “Come Roll in our Hay.”  

The window of opportunity to attract baby-makers will run for about the first quarter of next year. February 14 conveniently running smack dab in the middle of the period.  The schlocky appeal of Valentine’s Day added to the mix would surely seal the deal.

Economic incentives.

The campaign could also contain some economic incentives. If a couple who gave birth during 2022 stayed in the County during the January to March period, they would be eligible for a draw which would see the County reimburse them for their costs of accommodation.  Each child would also receive a free “Conceived in the County” tee-shirt. 

Since visitors would be spending most of their time in their rooms, you wouldn’t have to worry much about finding them things to do.  The opportunities for cross marketing would abound.  A pop-up lingerie store could open in downtown Wellington. A winery could offer a special “County Conjugal 2022” vintage. Local writers of steamy fiction could be dispatched to give on-site readings.  

I realize this idea has the potential downside of slipping into the sleazy.  The proposal is to tap the purposefully parental market, not the recreationally romantic market. The last thing I would want to see would be a motel strip along the western edge of Wellington with garish neon signs shouting, “Try Our Waterbeds” or “Rooms by the Hour.”  Leave that to Mimico and Niagara Falls.   

I am also aware of the controversy surrounding the Great Toronto Stork Derby, which took place between 1926 and 1936 after the practical joker and lawyer Charles Vance Miller left a large chunk of his estate to the woman in the city who had the most children during the period.  The terms of the Will survived many legal challenges, including those that claimed it was against public policy to encourage the birth of children for a financial reward. In our scenario, only one birth cycle would be covered, and in any event, the prizes wouldn’t be large enough to encourage people to produce children they didn’t otherwise want; besides, that was then and this is now.

Just as a matter of historical completeness, I should note that six women each having given birth to nine children, excluding those born outside of marriage, each received $125,000 1936 dollars, which was hopefully enough to cover the cost of the additional nannies and babysitters their extra children required.  Lawyer Miller, a Catholic, also left his ownership stock in the O’Keefe brewing company to each Orange Lodge and Protestant minister in Toronto; he left a share in the Kenilworth Jockey Club to each ordained minister in Walkerville, Sandwich and Windsor.

Ours to embrace.

There you have it. Out of every adverse event there comes some opportunity. It’s ours to embrace (sic).

Some readers seem intent on nullifying the authority of David Simmonds. The critics are so intense; Simmonds is cast as more scoundrel than scamp. He is, in fact, a Canadian writer of much wit and wisdom. Simmonds writes strong prose, not infrequently laced with savage humour. He dissects, in a cheeky way, what some think sacrosanct. His wit refuses to allow the absurdities of life to move along, nicely, without comment. What Simmonds writes frightens some readers. He doesn't court the ineffectual. Those he scares off are the same ones that will not understand his writing. Satire is not for sissies. The wit of David Simmonds skewers societal vanities, the self-important and their follies as well as the madness of tyrants. He never targets the outcasts or the marginalised; when he goes for a jugular, its blood is blue. David Simmonds, by nurture, is a lawyer. By nature, he is a perceptive writer, with a gimlet eye, a superb folk singer, lyricist and composer. He believes quirkiness is universal; this is his focus and the base of his creativity. "If my humour hurts," says Simmonds,"it's after the stiletto comes out." He's an urban satirist on par with Pete Hamill and Mike Barnacle; the late Jimmy Breslin and Mike Rokyo and, increasingly, Dorothy Parker. He writes from and often about the village of Wellington, Ontario. Simmonds also writes for the Wellington "Times," in Wellington, Ontario.

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