By: Vivian Lo
Canada's Changing Demography - Past, Present, and Future
No matter who comes to mind, we all must acknowledge that Canada's demography is changing. This report will cover current immigration trends, demographic changes and the present state of First Nations/Métis/Inuit communities. Also, we'll take a peek at what changes Canada may face, how these changes will affect our country's success in the future and steps we need to take to see these changes take affect.
Over 20% of the Population are immigrants
Of these 6,755,800 individuals, approximately 2,155,000 (or 32%) of them have immigrated to Canada within the years of 2001-2011. With immigration spiking in this past decade, it doesn't show any signs of slowing down (Chui and Flanders 6)
Top Ten Source Countries (NHS 2011)
Did you know that Canadian immigrants have reported almost 200 countries of origin?
Canada's Top Ten Source Countries Are:
- The Philippines
- United States of America
- United Kingdom
- South Korea
(Chui and Flanders 8)
Source Countries - Additional Analysis
A majority of Canada's immigrants come from Asia.
- Before the 1970s, over 75% of the immigrants originated from Europe. Respectively, Asians accounted for only 8.5% of all immigrants.
- During the period of 2006-2001, 56.9% of all newcomers came from Asia.
- This number has declined by 3.1% since 2001-2006, when Asian newcomers made up 60% of all immigrants.
There is an increase in the number of immigrants from Africa, the Caribbean, and South/Central America.
- African immigrants accounted for 12.5% of all immigrants between 2006-2011.
- This is an increase from 10.3% five years prior.
- Additionally, immigration from Central and South America has increased from 10.5% to 12.3% from 2006-2011 (Chui and Flanders 8).
More Immigrants Are Coming To Canada
- The number of immigrants we accept into Canada is rising, and with 2015's immigration target set at 285,000; it appears as if this figure will continue to rise ("Canada Aims To").
- Our country's population growth is currently becoming more dependent upon net migration rather than natural increase.
- Presently, net migration accounts for two-thirds of population growth.
Canada is more dependent on immigration than ever before, with current trends expected to continue into the future ("Migratory Increase Overtakes").
- As education in developing nations equates to more skilled workers, there is a chance that these workers may seek employment in Canada.
- Current immigration trends show an increase of newcomers from these areas.
- The percentage of Asian newcomers is declining, suggesting a future decrease of the aforementioned immigration (Chui and Flanders 7).
The question is, how will tomorrow's newcomers shape our politics, economy, and culture in the years to come?
Canadian's Ethnic Groups (2011 est.)
The Top Ten Ethnic Groups:
- First Nations
(Chui and Flanders, 13)
More Canadians identify as a visible minority
The three largest visible minority groups are South Asian, Chinese, and Black. Of all those who identified as a visible minority, 30% (or 3 in 10) were born in Canada (Chui and Flanders 14).
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The Baby Boomers Are No Longer Booming
Canada's Baby Boomers (those born between 1946-1964) are no longer booming, having passed their reproductive years, and with many seeking retirement. As Baby Boomers make up the largest percentage of our population, they're causing the population to "age". Currently, the median age is 40.1 years old.
As seen in the chart above, there are more people aged 55-64 than 15-24. Those aged 55-64 are normally seeking to leave the workforce while others aged 15-24 are inclined to join the workforce. There are currently more people leaving the workforce than joining it. This will lead to a skilled labour shortage in the future, with an estimated 1.8 million unfilled employment opportunities by 2031 ("Rethinking Immigration").
In regards to senior citizens, 15.7% of the population were over 65. Statistics Canada predicts that by 2063, seniors would account for 24%-28% of all Canadians.
Canada's Population Growth
On the Demographic Transition Model, Canada is placed at a Stage Four. This is due to a low birth rate and low death rate, after a stage of rapid growth and vastly improving living conditions. The population has remained fairly stable over the past few years, and seems like it will continue to do so- that is, until it hits Stage Five. What does this spell for Canada's future?
As our population ages, there are more health problems associated with the elderly. We could potentially see an increase in the mortality rate -- pair that with an already low death rate, and natural decrease appears (Dion, Chagnon, and Morency 42).
Some may think it easiest to simply increase the birth rate back to the self sustainable 2.0 children per woman, but that is neither viable nor realistic. Higher education, a decrease in wage gaps (in regards to gender) and higher child rearing costs are all factors leading to the smaller family sizes we see in many modern countries, instead of the traditional large family setting of the past (Milan, 2014).
Of all the countries in the G7, Canada's population is growing the fastest, at 1.1%. But with our low birth rate and a rising death rate to come, how could this be?
The answer to this is immigration.
- Future generations may see more immigrants being accepted into Canada as natural increase continues to decline.
- A larger portion of Canadians will identify as visible minorities, and as today's immigrants have families of their own on Canadian soil, the second and third-generations of these people will be Canadian citizens.
- The average household size for an immigrant family is 3.4, compared to the 3.0 of the general population (Lee and Edmonston 8), further implying a larger foreign-born and second-generation population in the future.
Canada's demography has always been dependent on its immigrants, but immigration could play a larger role in Canadian culture than ever before.
The FNMI Communities
The Aboriginal Population is on the rise
- In 2011, the NHS reported that 4.3% of the Canadian population (or 1,400,685 people) identified as Aboriginals. This is an increase from the 3.8% seen in 2006, or 2.8% in 1996 (Turner, Crompton and Langlois 6).
- Between 2006-2011, the Aboriginal population increased by 20.1%. Likewise, the non-Aboriginal population increased by a significantly lower 5.2%.
- The First Nations and Inuit populations possess significantly higher fertility rates than their non-Aboriginal counterparts (Malenfant and Morency).
The FNMI population is now the fastest growing and youngest population in Canada, with the median age at 28 years old (Turner et al. 16).
Education for First Nations is grossly underfunded
- Nearly half of First Nations need new schools, and 74% of existing schools need major repairs ("AFN School Survey").
- The NHS 2011 reported that 58% of First Nations on reserve (aged 20-24) were high school dropouts (compared to 8% of the general population) (Dehaas, 2014).
- First Nations children are more likely to be incarcerated than graduate secondary school (Therien, 2011).
A child's education is what pulls them, their families, and their communities out of poverty. The education of First Nations youth should be held to the same standards as the rest of Canada.
On average, Aboriginals earn less than their non-Aboriginal counterparts
Aboriginals (regardless of sex or education) are affected by income inequality, though the wage gap is largest among Registered Indians and smallest among the Métis.
- The unemployment rate for Aboriginals is twice that of the rest of Canada at 13% (compared to the 6% of the non-Aboriginal population) ("Aboriginal Income Disparity").
- The Aboriginal employment rate is lower than that of non-Aboriginals rate at 63% (compared to 76%).
- Women fared better than their male counterparts, with the income gap of a Registered Indian woman being 11% lower compared to a Registered Indian man with a wage gap of around 50%.
With half of Status Indian children living below the poverty line, the lack of funding for First Nations education and a booming Aboriginal population, Canada simply cannot sit back and let this injustice continue.
There is an injustice being done every minute we sit back and decide these kids are not worthy of the same rights and privileges we give our own children. The inequality FNMI youth must face on a daily basis must be eradicated, whether this be through underfunded education systems or wage gaps their parents and families face. With every child there is potential, but with so many of these children growing up with the cards stacked against them, it's quite possible that this potential will go to waste.
I predict that by 2060, the Canadian government will improve the education and employment opportunities of the FNMI communities. Now educated and empowered, these youth will join the Canadian workforce (much like immigrants and their descendants) and ease the labour deficit that threatens Canada's economic success. By then, the income gap will be eradicated and FNMI communities will be able to pull themselves out of poverty, breaking its vicious cycle.
However, they won't be able to do it without our help.
In the video below, Grand Chief Derek Nepinak of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs explains how the current funding cap on Aboriginal education and "solutions" from the Canadian government are not enough to bring change and break the cycle of poverty. He calls for investment in First Nation Education, proposing the fast-growing FNMI youth population as a solution for our nation's labour shortage.
To wrap things up...
Population growth is slowing down, with lower fertility rates and an aging population bringing natural increase down and the dependency load up. More people identify as visible minorities- and with larger household sizes, they too will find ample education and employment opportunities in the skilled labour trade, becoming a more prominent aspect of Canadian culture.
FNMI communities face inequalities that many Canadians are unaware of. Grossly underfunded education and wage gaps prevent Aboriginal youth from reaching their fullest potential. However, they are the fastest-growing demographic in the country. If we were to give these youth the opportunities they deserved, they will become Canada's greatest asset in the future.
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Milan, Anne. "Fertility: Fewer Children, Older Moms." Government of Canada, Statistics Canada. Statistics Canada, 13 Nov. 2014. Web. 13 Mar. 2015.
"Population Growth: Migratory Increase Overtakes Natural Increase." Government of Canada, Statistics Canada. Statistics Canada, 9 Oct. 2014. Web. 13 Mar. 2015.
Press, The Canadian. "Canada's Foreign-born Population Soars to 6.8 Million." CBCnews. CBC/Radio Canada, 08 May 2013. Web. 13 Mar. 2015.
"Rethinking Immigration: The Case for the 400,000 Solution." The Globe and Mail. N.p., 4 May 2012. Web. 13 Mar. 2015.
Therien, Emile. "The National Shame of Aboriginal Incarceration." The Globe and Mail. N.p., 20 July 2011. Web. 13 Mar. 2015.
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