In 2010, the World Bank pegged Canada’s population at a mere 34 million. According to Globe and Mail correspondent Doug Saunders, this number is grossly insufficient to furnish Canada’s future industrial needs and to maintain its standard of living.
If population is a currency, he suggests that inviting more foreign workers to immigrate to Canada is the solution. Canada is the second-largest country in the world by total area; however Saunders comments that the nation’s dispersed geography undermines its cultural and political cohesion. A larger population will provide the country with more tax revenue streams to support better transportation infrastructure and academic institutions, among other things. A denser configuration of Canada’s permanent residents and citizens would bring together formerly-atomized audiences and usher in a higher calibre of dialogue, scholarship, and cultural progression. He also points to a 2010 report by the Global Brief, which stressed that the country needed a population of at least 100-million for security and geostrategic purposes. This, as Saunders urges, is especially crucial if the world’s population is projected to curtail by the middle of the 21st century, for it will become more and more difficult for Canada to attract immigrants with promises of Canadian work permits, permanent residency status, or student visas if skilled workers and young migrants become obliged to remedy their own countries’ domestic labour demands.
To reach Saunders’s 100-million mark, Canada needs to ramp up the volume of immigrants that it welcomes to around 450 000 per year. Doing so, however, would act against the quotas recently imposed by Citizenship and Immigration Canada upon categories such as the now-closed Federal Skilled Worker Program. While an open-door policy may alleviate Canada of labour shortages and high taxes born from its widening old-age dependency ratio and low birthrates, it is important to remember that the government’s thresholds also serve a specific purpose. The quotas have limited the number of applications that CIC processes per year in order to eliminate administrative backlogs, improving efficiency to better match the skills of foreign workers with the needs of the Canadian labour market.
Thus while a certain quantity of immigrants, as Saunders has projected, may cure Canada’s affliction of underpopulation, the government has of late been focusing upon improving the ‘quality’ of candidates receiving one of Canada’s coveted temporary resident permits and permanent resident permits.