A new report by the Conference Board of Canada has revealed the consequences if Canada put a total end of immigration. The report warns that if immigration were halted, Canada would experience a shrinking labour force, weaker economic growth rates and difficulty funding key social services like healthcare by 2040.
By the estimates of the report’s writers, the average growth rate of the Canadian economy would drop 0.6 per cent, from 1.9 per cent to 1.3 per cent. The age of the average Canadian would rise precipitously, as 26.5 per cent of the population would be 65 years or older. Canada already leads the Americas as the oldest country in the hemisphere, with an average age of 42 years. The U.S. has an average age of 38 years, by comparison.
The Canadian birthrate has languished at 1.6 children per family, far below the replacement level of 2.0 children per family. It’s estimated that by 2034, the rate at which Canadians die will exceed the birthrate, meaning population growth will be driven solely by immigration in less than 20 years.
1971 was the last time the Canadian birthrate been above the replacement rate. Perhaps not coincidentally, that’s also around the same time that immigration rates picked up again. Since then, the proportion of foreign-born Canadians has never dipped below 10 per cent. Today, the proportion sits near 25 per cent, 1-in-4 Canadians.
So the Canadian government is faced with two choices to fund its social programs: increase taxes, which would potentially drive away business investment, or increase immigration rates to maintain current worker to pensioner rates. As it stands, there are 3.6 workers per pensioner in Canada. In a no-immigration scenario, the proportion would drop to 2.0 workers per pensioner.
In addition to the financial benefits, Canada’s diversity and tolerance is lauded around the world as one of the nation’s best qualities. Prime Minister Trudeau’s youthful approach to leadership has sharpened the image of the country, while progressive social and environmental laws have helped it rank just shy of the best country in the world to live.
Canada has opened its doors to 25,000 Syrian refugees since 2016, with thousands more seeking asylum by crossing our borders, both legally and illegally. The wide-armed outlook has drawn both praise and criticism, but the message is clear: Canada is a place people want to be.
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