Canada's long-term sustainability tied to population growth

Canada's long-term sustainability tied to population growth

Canada

Canada’s long-term prospects can be secured only if its population increases at a steady, healthy rate, according to BlackRock Inc. senior managing director Mark Wiseman.

“If you look at Canada’s demographics today, we will grow – on current trend – to about 50 million people from 37 million today by about 2050, and then we stop growing,” Wiseman said in an interview with BNN Bloomberg late last week.

Wiseman, who is one of the leaders of Canada’s Century Initiative, highlighted the need for the national population to reach 100 million by the year 2100.

“This is a trend that we have to get on top of now. If we stop growing we will have a smaller economy. If we stop growing, we’ll be less important in the world, as the rest of the world grows around us.”

A significant proportion of this new population will come from immigration, which Canada should work on right away. Other priority action items include housing, transport, education, and child care.

“All we have to do if we start acting today is increase by about 20% to 30% from what we are doing today and then we get what’s known in investing as the compounding effect... Those immigrants will have children, those children will have children, et cetera,” Wiseman explained. “The longer we wait, the bigger the problem becomes.”

Over the past few years, much of Canada’s population growth can be attributed to immigration, according to Statistics Canada.

The agency recently reported that 82.2% of the population growth seen in 2018/2019 was due to an influx of immigrants and non-permanent residents. During this time frame, Canada admitted 313,580 immigrants, which was one of the highest volumes ever recorded.

The number of non-permanent residents also increased by 171,536 in this period, comprising the largest such increase in Canadian history.

“While also fuelled by rapid growth in asylum claimants, this gain was mainly led by an increase in the number of work and study permit holders. Temporary immigration assists Canada in meeting its labour market needs,” StatsCan noted in its data release.