Tag Archives: aging population

Advice to McCallum : It’s Time to Go Back To School

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Advice to McCallum : It’s Time to Go Back To School



Immigration Minister John McCallum’s has been musing that he will increase Canada’s immigration intake well above 300,000 for 2017. The two reasons he gives are clearly not evidence-based and should be thrown into the nearest recycling bin.


REASON A : He says Canada needs immigrants because it has an aging population. He does not seem to know that the Mulroney government asked Canada’s Department of Health and Welfare to study this issue. It was to determine whether Canada should use immigration to solve problems that might arise because of Canada’s aging population (particularly a drain on Canada’s finances). Health and Welfare Department’s long study around 1990  concluded that Canada would be better off  to use its own population (particularly its females who were not in the workforce and its unemployed older males) to solve such issues. Doing this would stabilize the number of people that each worker supported at 1.9 (Canada’s Dependency Ratio). Increasing immigration to as high as 600,000 per year would have little effect on reducing the percentage of older people in Canada’s population.


McCallum also does not seem to know that a CD Howe Institute study in 2006 on the same issue concluded that “… no conceivable amount of immigration, with an age profile such as Canada currently experiences, can significantly affect the coming shift in the ratio of older to working age Canadians.” It predicted that Canada’s percentage of older Canadians (now around 17%) would rise to 46% of the population by 2050. It looked at three strategies : (1) reducing the percentage of older people through high immigration (2) stabilizing the percentage of older people so that a much smaller percentage of Canada’s population would be 65+ in 2050. One of the very negative results of using high immigration would be that Canada’s population would rise to 169 million by 2050 and its yearly intake would be 7 million !!! Such consequences would clearly negate any benefits.


The third strategy it proposed was to increase Canada’s retirement age to 70. This technique did not use immigration to achieve its end, and would be superior to the other two strategies. By 2050, the maximum percentage of aged Canadians potentially dependent on government programmes would be about 33%, not 50%. Researchers pointed out that simultaneous policies aimed at encouraging work and saving were also important. Saving, in particular, would decrease reliance on public coffers. The Harper government did suggest raising the retirement age. This proposal has to be re-visited


REASON B : McCallum is also saying that Canada has a labour shortage and that Canada needs much higher immigration. He claims to have consulted with about 35 groups across the country. Recently, in Alberta where about 100,000 people have lost their jobs in the past two years because of the downturn in Alberta’s oil industry, he stated that Albertans were telling him that Alberta needed more immigrants. The question that most Albertans are asking is this : Who is McCallum listening to? Other Canadians are asking the same thing.  It seems that the only people he is talking to are members of the immigration lobby (lawyers, consultants, advocates and ethnic groups like the Sikhs, Muslims and Chinese). In fact, he has been proposing that Canada accept many more Chinese students and workers. To accomplish that, he wants to dramatically increase the number of Canada’s visa-granting centres in China. Anyone who has seen what unnecessary immigration has done to Canada in the past 25 years must be cringing or  saying that they would prefer an Ebola epidemic.


And they are not the only ones !!! Two of Canada’s big banks (Toronto Dominion and the Bank of Montreal) did their own studies three years ago on whether Canada had a labour shortage. Both concluded that it did not. The point is that the banks are precisely the ones we would expect to be cheer-leading higher immigration. But the TD Bank stated “With data in hand, we debunk the notion that Canada is facing an imminent skills crisis.”  Overall, both said that whatever skill shortages existed, were isolated and likely no greater than existed a decade ago. In addition, the Parliamentary Budget Officer in 2014 reported that there was little evidence to suggest that a labour shortage exists.


Clearly, Canada’s Immigration Minister John McCallum has not done his homework and he has no evidence to support his proposal to greatly increase Canada’s immigration intake. Our advice : Raising immigration intake to 300,000 for 2016 was already a bad mistake. Don’t make another.



For sensible immigration policies for the 21st century.