(Campaign Life Coalition) – Over the past 50 years, Canada has been spiraling out of control to a catastrophic demographic demise. Put simply, Canadian women are not having enough children to replace themselves and their partners. What this inevitably spells is disaster on so many levels, especially socially and economically, as the population ages and a younger population is simply not there to fill empty workspaces, pay taxes, and keep the nation’s social and economic systems alive and healthy. Ancient civilizations rose and fell. Extinction can happen to our modern civilizations too.
Alarmingly, the total fertility rate of Canadian women, that is, an estimate of the average number of live births a female can be expected to have in her lifetime, has decreased since the 1950s, from about 3.7 births per woman to 1.33 in 2022, what comes to a staggering decrease of -64% in total. Today’s fertility rate is well below the 2.1 children per woman needed for the current population to replace itself to maintain the health of our current social structures.
Childlessness is becoming the frightening hallmark of our times and world leaders are beginning to wake up to the crisis it causes. The “biggest problem” facing the world is not population explosion, but “population collapse,” said Tesla CEO and billionaire Elon Musk in 2019. “Most people think we have too many people on the planet, but actually this is an outdated view,” he said. “Collapse: I want to emphasize this. The biggest issue in 20 years will be population collapse, not explosion, collapse.” Musk argued that the “accelerating collapse” will not be checked by immigration. “The common rebuttal is: ‘Well, what about immigration? Like, from where?”
Global elites like Musk are not the only ones to see the problem. A Canadian lobby group called Century Initiative, co-founded by former Liberal government adviser Dominic Barton and businessman and financier Mark Wiseman, also sees the writing on the wall when it comes to the country’s plummeting population. Because of the population collapse, “Canada is falling behind,” the organization states on its website. “Our population is aging, we’re having fewer children, and our workforce is shrinking. If we stay the course, Canada’s annual GDP growth will decline, along with our influence on the world stage.”
Century Initiative’s solution to the crisis is simple: more than double the current population, increasing it from 40 to 100 million people. “Growing our population to 100 million by 2100 would reduce the burden on government revenues to fund health care, old age security, and other services. It would also mean more skilled workers, innovation, and dynamism in the Canadian economy,” the organization states on its website. “100 million by 2100 is not just a number. It’s a vision for the Canada we want to build for future generations.”
To its credit, the lobby group recognizes the truth that every student of Economics 101 learns, namely, that there’s a direct link between population size and prosperity. “A larger population is key for the economic prosperity that makes possible what we value, from high-quality healthcare and education to income security programs, culture vibrance and a healthy environment,” the group states in its 2019 document titled For a Bigger, Bolder Canada.
Century Initiative’s goal of “economic prosperity” and securing a “good standard of living” for Canadians is laudable. Increasing the population to get there seems to make good sense. But it’s the means that the organization wants to employ to increase the population that is problematic. Instead of incentivizing Canadians to have more children to increase the population, allowing the country to grow organically, the organization wants to flood the country with millions of immigrants. “The path to reach 100 million Canadians in 2100 requires setting higher immigration targets,” the group states.
The problem with this solution is that a sudden flood of millions of immigrants would easily overwhelm various social services, such as healthcare and education, to name a few, which are already overburdened. There is already a massive housing shortage nationwide. Increasing immigration levels would only exacerbate the problem. Pro-immigration policies in some European countries such as Italy and Germany have made some citizens of those countries feel like they are in the midst of an “invasion” as they watch the country that they have known and loved crumble before their eyes.
Quebec Premier François Legault has already indicated earlier this year that the lobby group’s plan for millions of immigrants is a threat not only to Quebec, but would pose “enormous challenges” for the rest of the country when it comes to providing housing, healthcare, and educational services for all the extra people from systems which are already operating beyond capacity. Members of the Conservative Party of Canada are also raising concerns. Prior to the September Conservative Party convention in Quebec City, the Conservative riding association of Chateauguay-Lacolle presented a policy proposal opposing the Century Initiative’s plan for massive immigration. “The Conservative Party rejects the objectives of the project known as ‘the Century Initiative’, that is, the growth of Canada’s population to 100 million by the year 2100, and will instead promote alternative policies that will aim at raising the wealth and wellness of all Canadians and new arrivals,” the proposed policy stated. The policy easily passed its co-sponsorship phase but failed by only a few votes from the 338 riding associations, so that it was not among the 30 policies to reach the convention floor.
Large families are the key to a country’s organic growth
If massive immigration poses too many difficulties in increasing Canada’s population, what about organic growth? It is being done successfully in other countries. For instance, Hungary, with its stunning family-friendly policies that make it financially advantageous for couples to marry and have numerous children, has seen since the policy was first introduced in 2015 its total fertility rate rise quickly. Remarkably, the country’s abortion rate dropped to its lowest level since records began shortly after the introduction of the pro-family policies.
Hungarian President Katalin Novák recently defended her country’s decision to increase the fertility rate organically with family-friendly policies that decrease and even eliminate the financial burdens of couples who want to have children. “There shouldn’t be any financial obstacles in childbearing or child raising,” she said in an October 19 interview posted on X (formerly Twitter). “So, when young people decide to have children in a responsible manner, then we should enable them to do so.” The policy includes tax breaks so that the more children a couple has, the less personal income tax they pay. There are also housing subsidies for parents who have multiple children. Novák said that her country decided to go down the path of organic growth as opposed to backing immigration when it was realized that Hungarian women would like to have more children, but face economic hurdles in doing so, which prevent them from having them. She outlined in the same interview how her country, like many Western countries, has a “fertility gap” between the greater number of children women desire to have and the lower number they actually have. Hungary decided to “target” and “eliminate” this fertility gap, she said. “We want[ed] to concentrate all our efforts on enabling young childbearing-age couples to have as many children as they want,” she said.
There is evidence that Canadian women also want to have more children than they currently have. In fact, according to Canadian think tank Cardus, about half of women in Canada have fewer children than they want, resulting in the dismal 1.33 total fertility rate, which is far lower than the 2.2 children Canadian women say they want and even the 1.9 children they intend to try for. The top reasons provided for why Canadian women are not having children include wanting to save money, focusing on a career, and having no suitable partner. But, Century Initiative appears to write off the notion of growing a population organically, stating in its For a Bigger, Bolder Canada document that it’s merely a “nice idea”: Ignoring what happened in Hungary, the group states that “the data shows mixed results in countries that have tried to incentivize a higher birth rate,” adding: “And while financial support and other nudges may boost the fertility rate slightly, it is almost certainly not going to be enough to keep Canada’s population at the same level, let alone grow. Only immigration can do that.”
Campaign Life Coalition reached out to Lisa Lalande, Century Initiative’s Chief Executive Officer, and asked some questions about her lobby group’s position on growing the population organically. We asked if her lobby group has a position on abortion which is estimated to exterminate some 100,000 Canadian children annually. “If we’re to get to 100M population by 2100, do you think something should be done to encourage moms to have their children instead of turning to abortion? What are your thoughts on this?” No response was given.
Large families are the key to a country’s organic growth
Abortion, of course, is a huge driver of population decline. Some 367,000 babies on average are born annually in Canada. There would be some 100,000 more (27% increase) for a total of 467,000 if women were incentivized to keep their babies and, moreover, if abortion were outright banned on the grounds of being the greatest human rights violation of our times. A country that aborts its children is killing its future. In the face of our country’s looming demographic catastrophe, banning the killing of the youngest members of the human family, the future citizens of our country, would be an obvious and advantageous strategy. Every life destroyed by abortion is a tragic loss that affects everyone involved, including the parents, the community, and yes, the country. It turns out there is an economic cost when it comes to abortion. It’s been estimated that since 1970, abortion has ended the lives of over 4 million pre-born Canadians. The Christian Heritage Party recently spelled out what this loss means from an economic perspective: “At a current rate generally estimated at about 100,000 per year, that is the equivalent of about 4,000 classrooms of children every year. That would be the loss of 4,000 teacher jobs per year. It also represents an annual loss of sales income for food, clothing, toys, books, bicycles, etc. That number also represents the loss of 4 million Canadian workers who would today be building houses, programming computers, performing surgery and growing crops.”
There is also the problem of contraception. Our Western society over the last hundred years has been infected with a malady which makes people see fertility as an affliction and the creation of a new human life as burdensome. The contraceptive malady results in child aversion. Evidence of this malady is today’s sex education which focuses so much on promoting contraception to prevent the creation of new life along with abortion as the backup solution when contraception fails. A culture that poisons the female body with artificial hormones or copper-based intrauterine devices, making her body hostile to the creation of new life, and which views newly conceived children as burdensome will inevitably decline and could easily become extinct. We appear to be living in the times of which Jesus spoke when he warned that a time will come when people say: “Blessed are the childless women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed” (Luke 23:29). The West’s rejection of the treasure of fertility has brought this curse upon us, ensuring our demographic demise.
What needs to happen to increase a country’s total fertility rate is that a paradigm shift must take place where men and women learn once again to treasure the great gift of fertility and their ability to participate in the creation of a new human life. This is something that ancient cultures understood and valued. For example, in the Old Testament, Abraham saw it as being blessed by God that a great nation of many people would come from his loins. He valued and cherished that he would have descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and the sand on the shore (Genesis 22:17). We, as a people, need to regain such a perspective. It is from such a perspective that flows what Pope John Paul II coined a “culture of life,” where the ability to participate in the creation of a new human life along with life itself are valued and cherished for the profound gifts that they are. In the end, creating a culture that values, treasures, and celebrates fertility, the generative process within marriage, and the life that comes from this union will be a culture that has a reason to procreate. Such a culture leads to a populous and sustainable nation.
Reprinted with permission from Campaign Life Coalition.