According to newly released data, Canada’s population growth is slow and getting slower. This is bad news. Great nations are not made from fewer workers, fewer youth and more retirees. If Canada wants to thrive, if we want to influence the world, we will have to change this. We need immigrants and we need lots of them.
Canada is doing well. As we approach our 150th birthday, we are rated among the world’s most peaceful, prosperous and admired nations. The Canadian experiment is, objectively, a success.
Parliamentary histrionics conceal this achievement. Each party warns that the other will reduce Canada to smoking rubble. Yet there is consensus on the economic system, the welfare state, the political framework, the legal system and the social norms. The great questions of nation-building are settled here. The lack of disagreement on fundamental issues feeds the “narcissism of small differences,” which reduces our political class to braying schoolchildren. Our politicians are reduced to stamping and frothing about housing allowances and marijuana laws.
The Canadian model works, but we are simply too small to ensure that this will continue to be the case 50 or 100 years from now. It is time we began to scale it up.
While Canada is ranked second in the world by reputation, we are 37th by population. Statistics Canada’s newly released report “Population Projections for Canada” shows our growth is now stunted. Our birth rate continues to fall and the 258,000 immigrants we accepted last year are not enough to meet our labour shortages or significantly expand our size. As our growth slows, our aging accelerates. The number of retired Canadians is now predicted to increase from 15 per cent to 25 per cent over the next 15 years.
An increasing number of immigrants would mean more minds, more hands and more tax dollars. There is a misconception that new arrivals are a net drain on our economy. In fact, they are more entrepreneurial and work longer hours than average Canadians. The added muscle would make us smarter, stronger and louder.
A larger country would also mean a larger voice. At 100 million, we would have a critical mass of culture and people to project ourselves internationally. With a larger military and larger federal budget, we could make greater contributions to peacekeeping and relief efforts. We would play a bigger role in the multinational bodies that matter to us, and we would matter more in the bilateral relations we need.
Unfortunately, for now, the immigration rate is a sensitive topic rarely discussed in polite society. This needs to change. The public is mature enough and smart enough to understand that opening our doors to the best and brightest will only be good for Canada. We recognize that 96 per cent of us are of migrant stock ourselves. Our political leaders would do us a service and themselves credit by asking a simple question: “Is it time to scale Canada?”
Colin Singer Commentary:
Immigration to Canada on a per capita basis has fallen from .008% under previous government to .007% under the Tory government. This may not seem significant but in economic terms it is staggering. On an annual basis this represents 35,000 immigrants that should be selected for permanent residence, and would be selected under previous governments, given our population. In economic terms the estimated net lost to Canada’s GDP would be $175 Million Dollars annually calculated on an amount of only $5000 net, per newcomer in either wages or per capita spending.