Even if All Canadians Were Working, Immigration Would Still Be Necessary to Meet Labour Needs
A recent study by the Conference Board of Canada (CBoC) shows that, even if all of Canada’s new graduates and underrepresented groups in the workforce (including women, the disabled, and Indigenous people) were fully employed, the country would still need immigrants to help satisfy all labour needs and demands.
The study, titled Can’t Go It Alone: Immigration is Key to Canada’s Growth Strategy, focuses on four key findings:
- Because Canada has an ageing population and low fertility rate, the country will require new talent sources to enter the labour force to maintain the standards of living most Canadians now expect.
- Between 2018 and 2040, some 11.8 million Canadians will leave schools and enter the workforce as 13.8 million workers exit the workforce, creating a serious labour shortage.
- By improving workforce participation rates, nearly 2.2 million workers could be added to the labour force by 2040. This would mean greater participation from women, Indigenous people, and persons with disabilities. This increased participation would also add nearly $101 billion to Canada’s economy.
- Immigration will “remain a formative solution, accounting for all of Canada’s net labour force growth—3.7 million workers—and one-third of the economic growth rate between 2018 and 2040.”
These findings show just how important immigration is for Canada’s continued economic growth. The pending retirement of the baby boomer cohort of workers (the most prominent in Canada) is creating economic and fiscal pressure within the country. It’s expected that, by 2030, all 9.2 million boomers will have retired or be of retirement age.
Basically, the workforce is in danger of shrinking without continued efforts to bring in newcomers.
Sizable workforces are necessary to stimulate economic activity. Population growth also increases tax revenues, helping pay for rising healthcare costs associated with an ageing population, but also supporting the standards of living expected by Canadians.
The current Liberal government’s approach to immigration is to continually increase immigrant intake gradually over the coming years, rising to 350,000 immigrants annually by 2021 and increasing steadily in the years to come.
The study suggests that “if Canada gradually raises its immigration rate to 1 per cent of its population by 2030—up from about 0.8 per cent today—newcomers would contribute some 5.3 million workers to the labour force and one-third of the economic growth rate between 2018 and 2040.”
The CBoC study also touches on increasing technological advancements leading to the elimination of some jobs but suggests that these fears are overblown, citing a Brookfield Institute study that shows that 42 per cent of all Canadian jobs have the potential for some level of technological automation. However, only 12.7 per cent of university-educated workers would be vulnerable to replacement in this case.
Canadian immigration is a significant economic driver; this is not news, but it is always good to hear it stressed so emphatically and supported by data.