REALity Volume XXXVI Issue No. 3 March 2017
The Canadian birth rate is one of the lowest in the world, 1.6 children for each woman of childbearing age. By the year 2035, there will be only two workers for every senior to contribute to the economy and sustain our benefits. Where will the money come from to pay for our social benefits network such as child care, old age pensions, and our ruinous health care system? Nobody knows.
In addition, according to Bank of Canada’s “Monetary Policy Reports” released in July, 2016, Canada’s aging population is not investing money in business and industrial enterprises, as aging business owners and entrepreneurs are no longer thinking about committing time and money to their business, but are looking to cashing out and retiring. According to Statistics Canada, in 2014, more than 60% of Canada’s small and medium companies were owned by those over the age of 50. This has reduced Canada’s capital spending in manufacturing, for example, by nearly 11% and this is greatly contributing to Canada’s economic downturn.
Our social welfare programs were established in the post-war era and were premised on the assumption that we would have robust fertility rates, perpetually growing workforces, never ending economic growth, and people would die at about 70. The population of Canada is rapidly aging, with an anemic work force, either stagnant or declining global economic competition that has suppressed wage growth, and people living much longer lives. Under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Canada’s growing debt is being used to paper over these fundamental imbalances in the government’s finances.
REAL Women raised the issue of our aging population whenever the opportunity arose. The governments’ responses have always been to cast their eyes down, and shrug at this elephant in the room. Although the governments do admit that something must be done – it’s always – later.
Canadians are living in a fool’s paradise, in regard to our diminishing population, supposedly, in the happy belief that immigration will solve our problem. It won’t in the long run.
Successive Canadian governments have relied on immigration to solve this problem because western Canada was well populated by hundreds of thousands of immigrants in the early 1900’s under the direction of Sir Clifford Sifton, the Minister of the Interior.
The immigrants in the 1900’s, however, were drawn mainly from Europe, and consisted of mostly Christians and Jews, who willingly adapted to the Canadian way of life and culture, (and its frigid winters!) and generally had large families. They also provided us with their unique traditions, energy and entrepreneurship. This included their culture’s music and artistic heritage, as well as their culinary delights. So, who is to complain? These immigrants made Canada a better place.
The Fertile Immigrant No Longer Exists
Unfortunately, however, the immigration situation is quite different today, and is not going to solve our population problem as the fertile immigrant no longer exists. According to the respected British magazine, The Economist (April 30, 2016), there has been a collapse of fertility rates in most countries. For example, fertility rates have plunged in both Mexico and Turkey, from more than six children per woman in 1960 to less than three today.
Further, immigrants’ birth rates are falling in Canada because immigrants tend to adapt to the ways of the host communities. This happens fast: migrants from high-fertility countries, like Nigeria and Somalia, have fewer babies when they come to Canada than their compatriots remaining at home. In the US between 2006 and 2013, the fertility rate among Hispanics fell by 35%, compared with a drop of 3% among non-Hispanic whites.
In the Netherlands, the immigrant fertility rate is now almost exactly the same as the native one. Even in Britain, where a quarter of births are to immigrants, statisticians reckon that immigration has raised overall fertility by a mere 0.08 child per woman.
The 2016 Census on Population
In February, 2017, Statistics Canada released its population statistics taken from the 2016 census. In the short-run, Canada is still benefitting from immigration. According to Statistics Canada, Canada’s population growth of 5% since the last census in 2011 has resulted in a population of over 35,000,000 million. Two-thirds of this population growth was driven by immigration. Based on current trends, immigration will account for 80% of our population growth in twenty years, unless Canadians increase their own natural birth rate.
Because immigrants are no longer arriving with large families, or creating large families once settled here, this requires huge numbers of new immigrants to increase our population. For example, the Conference Board of Canada stated in its October, 2016 Report that Canada will need approximately 407,000 immigrants every year to maintain economic growth. The Liberal Government’s Advisory Council on Economics recommended also, in October 2016, that Canada increase immigration to 450,000 per year. Last year Canada accepted approximately 300,000 immigrants.
These recommendations make no mention of the difficulties that Canada will experience in assimilating so large a number of immigrants annually. Immigrants will have to be provided with social services such as welfare, education, housing, medical assistance, language training, etc. There will also certainly be cultural differences arising with such a large influx of immigrants.
Liberal Government’s Immigration Policy
Canada has announced it can no longer take in any more refugees or increase its current immigration numbers next year because it is plagued with backlogs and long wait times. A higher target would have required pumping more resources into processing applications, not to mention money for newcomer settlement programs. It appears that Justin Trudeau was grand-standing, after U.S. President Donald Trump temporarily banned some Muslim refugees, when he tweeted: “To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada.” The government admits that it has no more funds to accept more immigrants.
Also, it appears that, although Canada has been very open to immigration and refugees in the past, a Nanos Research poll conducted in August 2016 found that barely a quarter of the country favours higher immigration levels. Also, in February 2017, the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada conducted an in-depth survey on Canadian attitudes toward immigration, refugee settlement, and multiculturalism. It indicated that Canadians are not noticeably all that enthusiastic about increasing our immigration, although, most would oppose a total shut-down of immigration.
The Liberal Government is still trying to sell immigration as necessary for economic growth, which it is. But it seems to have no interest in initiating pro-natalist policies that Russia and France have implemented, which have successfully increased their population and thereby increased their economic growth.