Sunday, 03 September 2017 19:53

We Just Aren't Making Enough Babies

Commentary by: Sean Cowan

Seems like immigration hasn’t been seen in a positive light as of late. Control over immigration has been a central theme in the successful Brexit bid in the United Kingdom. America elected a president who suggests tougher laws and screening for immigrants. Syrian refugees were welcomed by the thousands into Canada (46,700 in 2016 alone to be exact), but not without considerable controversy.

Of course, with the entry of new immigrants comes the culture. Clearly they simply do not know of any other way to live until they move into new land and set roots. Learning another Language and assimilating into another culture takes time and requires patience of the guests who welcome them.

In some places, it seems, they aren’t necessarily welcome. There appears to be an immigrant backlash brewing in many of the wealthiest countries. The demographics are changing drastically and quickly. In 2012 in America, the census bureau reported that for the first time there have been more minority births than white births.

What becomes disturbing is that the glaringly obvious seems to be overlooked-Caucasians are having less babies.

We need an abundance of young people for the economy to work.

If we have less children we need to import them.

Every healthy economy regardless of society which runs it (within a more left wing society or more to the right) requires a pyramid shape in order for it to work. The tip of the pyramid being those who are not generating income (from the disabled, to young children, to the elderly), casual workers would be found somewhere below the tip, further down from casual comes the part time employees and somewhere halfway down the pyramid being the civil servant who receive revenue from public funds, yet redistribute it into the economy. The base of said metaphorical pyramid are the full time workers of various classes who work for private industry and generate the revenue which works its way up to the very tip and sustains the entire society within.

What becomes abundantly clear when visualizing this pyramid is that every society needs a healthy dose of working, young, able bodied people to sustain the economy and, most importantly, there has to be many more at the base than at the tip for the society to exist at all.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]Ultimately if we curb immigration we need to make more babies.[/quote]

For the longest time it was a non-issue. Forty years ago it was nothing to see a family with four or five children and was quite unusual for anyone to reach the age of 40 and be single without multiple children.

As was often the case. Many years ago you had no choice but to have multiple children but then along came contraceptives and women entered the workforce en masse. Now people had the choice if and when they had children. Women had options. They could wait until later in life to have children and focus on their career. To see a person reach the age of 40 without a child and single in the first world now is quite common.

This person will need young people to continue to generate revenue for when he or she retires. Police are still needed, and roads need to be paved.

This is why we need immigration. The alternative is simply to make more babies. That doesn’t appear to be an option. Most people simply are not willing to make enough babies to keep the engine running (or can’t due to shrinking wages/ unstable work….but that’s another story) so therefore we need to take in young people to make up for the loss.

There are still many countries with large families of 4 or more. They are typically countries who are culturally distinct from us so as they come in, they change the landscape.

Ultimately, if we curb immigration we need to make more babies. If we don’t, eventually, the metaphorical pyramid will change shape with the base of the pyramid becoming narrow and the aging population making the tip wider. It’s a demographic nightmare that countries like China ( with their one child policy) and Japan (statistically the oldest population on earth and a country not built on multiculturalism) are currently struggling with.

Xenophobia therefore is essentially a demographic nightmare waiting to happen for any first world country. Generally the local populations have been steadily decreasing as the desire for large families have diminished. Without the immigrants to inject new fresh young workers into the economy our social services will erode quicker than you could say ‘build a wall’.

So we are left with little choice but to embrace immigration and while we may change immigration policy to be more efficient and attract more of the people each country is desperately looking for in regards to age, family size and qualifications; there is no question that we need a healthy number of new young people in just about every first world nation on earth and that will indeed change each nation that welcomes them.

It should go without saying that immigration has been a continuous process in Europe, North America, New Zealand and Australia for centuries now. Various waves have come and gone and from various ethnic groups and they have made their mark and changed the country. As a Canadian I’m hard pressed to believe that our much more diverse, multicultural country would go to war for the queen and the ‘motherland’ as we have in the past because, of course, the demographics have changed and now the majority of the population cannot identify with a cause such as that.

One thing that is clear is that more young people from afar are more crucial than ever to maintain our society and the standards we have come to expect within it. What must be understood is that for the majority of the first world in general and former British colonies in particular it has played a vital part of our society. It has in fact built the society itself. So we should embrace it, because, unless you’re going to make more babies, we simply don’t have a choice.

Sean Cowan is a former member of the military who has worked with a wide range of first-generation immigrants throughout his career. His experiences as a result of his work and his upbringing in Nova Scotia have led to become an advocate for multiculturalism. 

Published in Commentary
Friday, 28 October 2016 16:42

A Canada of 100 million? Are they Insane?

Commentary by Howard Anglin

There are some ideas so daft that it takes a very smart person to think of them. Or, in the case of a new proposal to triple Canada’s population to 100 million by the end of the century, it takes an entire committee of smart people.

The authors of this particular idea are the fourteen members of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Advisory Council on Economic Growth, who issued their first report last week. To most Canadians, the idea is so preposterous as not to bear analyzing. Crumple it up and start again. But, as these are supposed to be serious thinkers — selected, according to a government press release, “because they are recognized, forward-thinking individuals in their respective fields” — it’s worth taking their proposal at face value.

Dominic Barton, the global managing partner of management consulting giant McKinsey & Co and the committee’s chief advocate of “a Canada of 100 million,” worries that without significant population growth, Canada’s international “relevance” will suffer. This is an odd thing to say, and an even odder thing to care about. How many Canadians, waking in the dark this morning, bundling their children into winter jackets and out the door to school, give two pucks for Canada’s “relevance”?

The disconnect between Mr. Barton, who lives in London, and the concerns of most Canadians was described in a recent column by Peggy Noonan as “something we are seeing all over, the top detaching itself from the bottom, feeling little loyalty to it or affiliation with it.”

“In Manhattan,” she says, “I see the children of the global business elite marry each other and settle in London or New York or Mumbai.” Having lived in London, New York, Washington DC and Ottawa (though not Mumbai), I’ve seen this phenomenon up close. Mr. Barton and his transnationalist peers think of Canada in terms of personal convenience and corporate expediency; to most Canadians, it means their home and community.

According to the Canadian Press, Mr. Barton believes “the world would benefit from a larger version of Canada’s stable, diversified democracy and economy” — but in the same breath he admits that 100 million “is a big number” that “would obviously change the country considerably.”

He fails to explain why we should believe Canada would remain the peaceful, pluralist society we currently enjoy after we added 65 million new people. Or why we would risk our remarkable and (looking around the world) extremely rare security and prosperity for … for what? “Relevance?”

There is no reason to think a Canada of 100 million would be a better place to live and good reasons to think it wouldn’t. Of the twenty countries with the highest per capita GDP, only the United States has more than 100 million people. Most have fewer than 10 million.

The bias against size carries across other national virtues. Happiness? Denmark, Switzerland, Iceland. Income equality? Sweden, Hungary, Norway. Reputation? Sweden, Canada, Switzerland. See a pattern?

The Trudeau government’s own immigration policy belies the Advisory Council’s assumption that more immigration will result in net economic benefits. Under the previous government, economic immigration as a percentage of overall immigration approached 67 per cent; under the new government, it has fallen to 53 per cent. In other words, there is a lot that can be done by better selecting immigrants within existing levels before we consider increasing intake.

It’s true we are a large country, with plenty of open space, but recent immigration has not filled that emptiness and future immigration is likely to follow the established paths to our cities and suburbs. Even at current, historically high immigration levels, Canada’s population is projected to grow by more than 20 million in the next 35 years. Are you ready for a Toronto of 20 million and a Vancouver of 10 million?

None of this will affect the members of Trudeau’s Advisory Council. For them, immigration is something that happens elsewhere. The acres of tract housing sprawling into farmland and greenbelts around our major cities are glimpsed by these people only in the minutes before takeoff and landing. Hopping between leafy downtown enclaves and luxury hotels, they won’t feel the strain on our roads, hospitals and schools, or the deterioration of our built and natural environments.

Industry Minister Navdeep Bains has already cautioned that he is hearing pushback from Canadians. This isn’t surprising. The government’s own polling shows only 8 per cent of Canadians think immigration should increase, while three times as many believe it is already too high. And that was before the Trudeau government increased annual levels to 300,000 already this year.

A government ignores clear public opinion at its peril — and at the nation’s. Significantly increasing immigration levels in defiance of the clear preference of Canadians, including recent immigrants, invites a sharp public backlash of the kind we’ve seen in the United States, the U.K. and Europe. Those who decry Trumpism should be the most vocal opponents of this proposal.

Unlike management consultants, citizens ask questions that are beyond the Advisory Council’s remit. Questions like: What will it mean to be Canadian after we’ve added 65 million new people? What holds our society together when immigration is so rapid that integration becomes impossible?

However smart the Advisory Council members may be, it’s average Canadians who are displaying common sense. They know that size is not a meaningful measure of national success. And they have seen from experience that when immigration is accelerated too quickly, multiculturalism becomes a centrifugal force — no longer holding successive waves of immigrants in a stable tension but driving us apart.

Howard Anglin was the chief of staff to Canada’s minister of Citizenship and Immigration from 2011 to 2013.

By arrangement with

Published in Policy
Wednesday, 17 February 2016 00:58

Myth Busting in Nova Scotia

Commentary by Howard Ramos in Halifax 

With a rapidly aging population and low birth rate, Canada’s Atlantic provinces have turned full force towards immigration. 

Nova Scotia, for instance, has nearly doubled its allocation of provincial nominees and Premier Stephen McNeil has been a vocal supporter of immigration as a solution to the province’s problems. 

This being the case, it is worth asking how immigrants fare there. 

Individuals such as Globe and Mail columnist, John Ibbitson, believe that, “Immigrants avoid the Maritimes because of the lack of economic opportunities and because they tend to gravitate toward communities that already have newcomers.” 

However, a recent report for Pathways to Prosperity (P2P) by Yoko Yoshida, Madine VanderPlaat and myself of Dalhousie and Saint Mary’s universities, in partnership with the Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia (ISANS), suggests that immigrants do well in Nova Scotia. 

Debunking myths

The report busts a number of myths. The first is that immigrants don’t find work in the province. 

This may have been the case a couple of decades ago, however, recent economic immigrants who arrived in Nova Scotia between 2010 and 2012 out-performed newcomers in other parts of Canada. 

Immigrants to the province actually have higher rates of employment one year after arriving (76 per cent) compared to Canada as a whole (73 per cent). 

[quote align="center" color="#999999"][I]n Nova Scotia, economic principal applicants’ average earnings are $44,000 compared to $36,000 nationally.[/quote]

Another busted myth is that immigrants will be underemployed compared to other parts of the country. 

The report finds that one year after landing in Nova Scotia, economic principal applicants’ average earnings are $44,000 compared to $36,000 nationally. 

Changes in policy and the success of settlement organizations, such as ISANS, have clearly worked at better integrating recent cohorts of immigrants to the province. This is largely because of the work they do in terms of language training, employment and interview coaching, and bridging programs that link immigrants to specific job sectors.

One more busted myth is that immigrant spouses and partners do not fully contribute to the economy. 

The report shows that 96 per cent of spouses and partners who come with economic immigrants and 91 per cent of family sponsored spouses and partners are of “prime” working age, between 20 and 55 years old. 

The majority of spouses and partners are also employed one year after arrival and over a third have a university degree. 

When spouses and partners immigrating to Nova Scotia are compared to immigrants settling across Canada we find that rates of employment are about the same, however, when earnings are examined the report again shows an advantage for family sponsored spouses and partners in Nova Scotia. 

For those landing between 2010 and 2012, average earnings were $26,000 one year after arriving compared to $22,000 for immigrants across Canada. Policy makers should not underestimate the economic potential of sponsored family immigrants. 

Emerging trends 

Such findings show that the federal government’s decision to increase the cap on immigrants to the province is well justified and that Nova Scotia is right to continue to ask for more immigrants. 

[quote align="center" color="#999999"][M]ore autonomy in crafting immigration policy ... could be a way to stem population pressures and even grow the economy.[/quote]

If the trends identified in the report continue, more autonomy in crafting immigration policy to the region with a broader mix of immigration pathways could be a way to stem population pressures and even grow the economy. 

The report, however, also identifies some trends that should be examined further and that need policy attention. 

In particular, when a comparison is made between economic and family-sponsored stream immigrants, interesting findings emerge. 

For instance, among cohorts of immigrants landing in Nova Scotia in the 1990s and early 2000s, family-sponsored spouses and partners rivalled and even outperformed economic-stream principal applicants, which suggests that there is an important role for the family stream in the immigration mix. This is a trend unique to the region and one that has shifted in recent years. 

[quote align="center" color="#999999"][I]t is important for Nova Scotia to continue to invest in researching immigration.[/quote]

Also worth policy attention are the noticeable differences identified in the report between economic versus family-sponsored spouses and partners. 

The economic successes have been greater for spouses and partners coming through the family pathway rather than those who come with economic principal applicants. It is unclear why this might be the case and this should be a focus of future analysis. 

A need for more research

Questions like these mean that it is important for Nova Scotia to continue to invest in researching immigration. 

It is through investigation and critical review that strong evidence-based policies can be developed. 

Such policies combined with quality efforts by settlement organizations are what have led to the dramatic shift in how immigrants fare in Nova Scotia. 

Premier McNeil and Immigration Minister Lena Diab, who is the daughter of first generation immigrants herself, are right to encourage immigrants to come to Nova Scotia. They will likely be successful in integrating into jobs and making meaningful contributions to the province. 

It is now time to let the rest of Canada in on the secret: immigrants do well in Nova Scotia.

Howard Ramos is a professor of sociology at Dalhousie University. His research focuses on issues of social justice including the non-economic elements of immigration and examination of family and non-economic streams of immigration to Canada.

Published in Commentary

by Shan Qiao in Toronto 

The desire to have more than one child has been a motivating factor for many Chinese emigrants for over three decades. Change may be on its way though, as earlier this week, China lifted its one-child policy, allowing married couples to have two children. 

The one-child policy, a population control measure viewed as a rather totalitarian symbol by the West, was introduced in 1979. For more than three decades, the unique China-style family consisted of a “4-2-1” model: four grandparents, a couple of two adults (both the only child from his or her family) and a single third-generation grandchild.

Aside from the fact that the policy has faced stanch criticism for being an abuse of human rights and for creating sex-based birth rate favouritism for boys – as China is a traditionally patriarchal society – the one-child policy has also created a huge problem for senior care. 

In a society that lacks a pension plan or affordable public health system, sometimes it is just too much for two adult children to take care of four elderly parents.  

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]"If [we violated the] one-child policy, we would both lose our jobs and [be forced] to pay a very heavy fine.”[/quote]

Impacts of one-child policy

Jinhong Xu is one of many Chinese Canadians who immigrated here to avoid the one-child policy. As a result, Xu has two children who are 16 years apart; this stark age difference between children isn’t strange to see among many Chinese immigrant families. 

“I was born in 1967 in a small county in Shan Xi province,” recalls Xu. “I was not the only child in my family, but I was only allowed to have one child after I got married in 1992. We both worked in a state-owned company. If [we violated the] one-child policy, we would both lose our jobs and [be forced] to pay a very heavy fine.”

Xu is like many Chinese who faced many challenges living under China’s unique traditions and polices. 

Her first daughter was born in 1993 – a very joyful event to her, but not so much for her family as the child was not a boy. 

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]“Hadn’t my country had a one-child policy, I would be happily staying in China, making it easier (for me) to look after my aging parents.”[/quote]

After struggling for years thinking of having another child, Xu finally immigrated to Canada in 2002 as a skilled worker and applied for family reunification to bring her husband and daughter here one year later. 

At 42, Xu had a second child born in Toronto’s North York General Hospital in 2009. To her delight, it was a healthy boy that the whole family had been longing for.
“I remember I had to go through [a] amniotic fluid test as I was an older mother,” she continues. “That was a really hard decision we have to make. It was my daughter who helped me go through the process. She really wanted to have a younger sibling.” 

Staying beside her mom’s bed during labour, Xu’s daughter was more thrilled than anybody else and started to learn how to help her mom take care of the baby.
“Hadn’t my country had a one-child policy, I would be happily staying in China, making it easier (for me) to look after my aging parents,” says Xu, her voice trembling and eyes filled with tears. “But [there isn’t] much I can do. I was not a devoted child to my parents.”
Changes for refugee claimants
The one-child policy has also been a reason for many Chinese people to claim refugee status in Canada. Whether their claims are genuine or bogus, future asylum seekers may start to feel anxious now that the policy is no longer. 

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]Whether their claims are genuine or bogus, future asylum seekers may start to feel anxious now that the policy is no longer.[/quote]

Refugees from China had the most claims accepted from January to June 2015, followed by Pakistan, Hungary Iraq and Syria. 

Refugee claims go to the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRBC). According to IRBC, the forced sterilization or abortion a person may face upon returning to China is grounds for granting refugee status. As is claims that the one-child policy goes against religious beliefs, such as in the case of Roman Catholics. 

Hart Kaminker, a Toronto-based immigration lawyer says the change in policy doesn’t necessarily mean an end to refugee claims of this nature though. 

“The policy now is allowing people to have two children,” he explains. “You might get into a [refugee] case when people may have two children that may want to have a third child. That person may still have a valid [refugee] claim.” 

{module NCM Blurb} 

Published in Top Stories
Tuesday, 20 January 2015 15:32

The Case of Canada’s Imaginary Muslims


The number of Muslims in Canada is not nearly what Canadians imagine it to be.

In the aftermath of this month’s terrorist attacks in France, last week The Economist reviewed the gap between the imagined and real sizes of Muslim populations in European countries. They found Europeans wildly overestimate the proportion of their populations that are Muslims. So what’s the Canadian case?

Whether born of xenophobic angst or pluralist exuberance, the average figure given by Canadians when asked for Muslims’ share of the general population is 20 per cent, according to a survey conducted last autumn by Ipsos Reid (with a margin of error of 3.5 per cent, 19 times out of 20). This imagined figure exceeds the actual one — 3.2 per cent — sixfold.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]Canada … does not have any major political constituency devoted to the mistrust or hatred of religious minorities. In fact, all of the major political parties are quite explicitly committed to the inclusion and tolerance of minority groups.[/quote]

“People who hold mythical ideas of Muslims in the West — including the one which holds that they’re expanding at an exponential pace and are poised to become a majority — (are not) necessarily racists or bigots or xenophobes,” says Doug Saunders, author of The Myth of the Muslim Tide. Instead, they are “often ordinary Canadians confused by the newcomers around them” and easily swayed by media narratives of a “large and fast-growing population that is not loyal to the countries it inhabits or refuses to integrate.”

Ontario, the province with the highest average guess in the Ipsos Reid survey — over 25 per cent — has the highest actual percentage of Muslims, but even this is just 4.6 per cent.

The greatest relative overestimation is in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, where the combined average guess — inflated perhaps by the prairies’ emerging status as a preferred destination for immigrants, or maybe just too much Little Mosque on the Prairie — is 20 per cent, but in the 2011 census Muslims accounted for just one per cent of the population in both provinces.

And Quebec, wrought last year by debate over a proposed Charter of Values, spurred in large part by the presumed cultural threat of a ‘Muslim tide’, is just 3.1 per cent Muslim, although the average Quebecer thinks the figure to be above 17 per cent.

These popular overestimations are unlikely to affect Canadian federal politics in the foreseeable future, according to Saunders, as “Canada … does not have any major political constituency devoted to the mistrust or hatred of religious minorities. In fact, all of the major political parties are quite explicitly committed to the inclusion and tolerance of minority groups.”

“All the major parties want to get Canadians of immigrant descent to vote for them and to become loyal adherents to the party. The Conservatives have put a lot of effort into becoming the party of diversity; Harper and Kenney spend a lot of time at Sikh temples and Muslim gatherings.”

The gap between actual Muslim Canadians and those who exist only in the public imagination is over 5.5 million people — roughly equal the population of Toronto. Fears of Islam’s demographic triumph are greatly exaggerated.

Re-published with permission and under arrangement with

Published in Top Stories

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