Canada’s current immigration policy continues to be based on the concept of never-ending growth which is a developer/finance centric model rather one which is focused on citizen well-being and environmental health.
Our population would now be stabilizing on its own at a level of about 28 million if balanced levels of immigration had been maintained from 1970 onwards. But given the powerful interests dependence on continued simple growth of the commercial economy (GDP) the current policy of mass immigration in Canada was implemented, pushing the population to its current level of 38 million.
There is a direct link between immigration and sustainability. Adding 10 million people and their additional 3 million housing units and 6 million motor vehicles has driven up Canadian carbon emissions and resulted in the paving over of hundreds of thousands of hectares of Canada’s best farmland. It is the equivalent of dropping over 3 cities of Toronto onto the Canadian landscape. Immigration on this level and the resulting impacts on the environment are massive problems.
This population growth strategy takes place in a policy vacuum where there is no concern for the quality of jobs, affordability of housing, debt or levels of equality. Instead of focusing on the well-being of Canadians and the health of the land, the policy of mass immigration in Canada is meant to make a market for developers, speculators, banks and cheap labour employers.
Housing inflation and increasing levels of debt are the consequences of having added 10 million people plus over 3 million housing units over the past 50 years of mass immigration in Canada. Combined with the impact of huge inflows of cheap labour, this creates the perfect engine of inequality.
In fact, Canada’s equality level has fallen from the second highest in the world in the early 1960s to the mid 20’s currently, a decline unmatched by any other developed country in the world. By causing overpopulation, immigration creates many other problems.
The housing demand created by an additional 10 million people has pushed up the cost of housing since it is responsible for 80% of new additional housing demand across the country. Mass immigration is responsible for 100% of housing demand in most cities in Canada, as there is a net outflow of Canadians from these large urban centres.
By pushing our population higher, mass immigration to Canada greatly influences many aspects of Canadian life and has a direct impact on our physical and social environment.
The large annual flow of immigrants pre-determines how Canada and Canadians fare in many of the most important aspects of national and personal well-being.
Despite its huge impacts, mass immigration policy in Canada stands on its own with no consideration for the viability of the national social and environmental objectives it undermines.
The economic impact of immigration to Canada is not a positive one in the long term. Canada’s commitment to the Kyoto Accord and its almost annual declaration of war on child poverty are worthless, given the impacts of adding the equivalent of a medium-sized city every 5 years populated by a growing body of working poor.
Our current immigration policy reflects:
Nor does the current policy acknowledge the clear will of Canadians regarding levels of immigration and the consequent overpopulation. Where is the environmental impact statement for ghg emissions increase and farmland loss?
Canadian immigration policy should be integrated into a coherent strategy aimed at achieving the clear national goals of environmental and fiscal sustainability, improving individual well-being and assuring social cohesion as well as food and clean energy security.
To avoid the negative effects of the current immigration policy, we recommend the stabilization of Canada’s population and the reduction of consumption levels so our environmental footprint and contributions to global warming and climate change are reduced.
The population size and growth rate of a country are determined by a number of factors. Natural increase comes from the fertility rate (number of children per woman of child bearing age) and life expectancy.
The higher the number of births and the longer people live, the larger the population will grow. Net migration (number of people entering the country minus the number leaving) is the external factor which has to be added to the domestic drivers.
In 2021 in Canada, with the fertility rate close to replacement level, and life expectancy close to stabilizing, the question of population size and growth rate is largely a question of immigration levels. Embracing mass immigration has left Canada in a difficult position.
In Canada, mass immigration over the past 50 years has pushed our population level 10 million higher than it would have been with balanced levels. Consequently, Canada has had the fastest growing population in the developed world matched possibly by Australia in the last several decades. Currently at an annual immigration rate of 400,000, our population is on track to top 50 million by 2050 and 100 million by the early 2100s. The negative effects of high levels of immigration will have lasting repercussions across Canada.
Several political parties wish to see our population grow forever and have adopted a 1% immigration policy. This means that if our population in 2021 is 38 million, we would be admitting 380,000 immigrants annually. In 2050, with a population of 50 million, immigration would be 500,000 and 1 million annually by 2100, with the rate increasing forever – or, in reality, until collapse. The long term effects of high levels of immigration can’t be understated.
Immigration and sustainability are inextricably linked. The biophysical realities of climate change and the challenge of transitioning to renewable energy will likely put an end to the commercial economy fantasy of endless growth, but the sooner we begin to focus on building a sustainable society, the easier it will be to achieve goals on our terms rather than on Mother Nature’s. To move forward, we must weigh the relationship between immigration and the environment and honour our limits.
Population size and growth rates have a huge impact on all aspects of Canadian life. Socially, economically and environmentally, the effects of population dynamics are usually the most influential fundamental factors which national policy development has to deal with. Of course, in Canada, there is currently no consideration of mass immigration impacts in any of our national policies.
Although Canada refers to itself as a young country, virtually none of its resources are being used at below sustainable levels. Historically we have never weighed immigration and the impact on our environment against one another. In Canada, we may be young but we have burned through our natural resources – once thought of as ‘an unlimited treasure trove’ – faster than any nation in history, and mass immigration is part of this. We need to have forward looking national policies in place which take the effects of population size and growth rates into account.
Immigration levels aimed at inflating the real estate market and providing cheap labour simply fly in the face of responsible government policy. To address the problems created by mass immigration, Canada needs to focus on the biophysical challenges of climate change, resource depletion and the transition to renewable energy for which we are very poorly prepared – as our response to the Covid-19 pandemic so clearly illustrated. Immigration and sustainability should not be treated as two unrelated subjects.
We need to stem the negative effects of immigration in Canada and adopt well-researched and coherent policies. We need to focus on the well-being of our citizens and the health of our environment, rather than expanding the commercial economy for the benefit of a very few at the expense of most. Immigration at current levels will deliver continued environmental and social decline, which is not good for anyone in the long term. Population growth is simply incompatible with the need to create either a sustainable or an egalitarian society.