OTTAWA, Ontario, February 13, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – While data released last week from the 2011 Canadian census shows a “small increase” in the country’s overall fertility rate, demographers from Statistics Canada are warning that without a “substantial increase in fertility,” Canada’s population growth in 20 years will be “close to zero.”

“According to all scenarios used in Statistics Canada’s most recent population projections, natural increase is expected to continue to decline in the future decades, due to a projected increase in the number of deaths,” the demographers pointed out. Natural increase, defined as the difference between the number of births and deaths during a given period, is how a population is replenished in the absence of migration.

“That’s bureaucratic speak for ‘BE ALARMED, BE VERY ALARMED,’” wrote Licia Corbella in a column that appeared Thursday in Calgary Herald, adding that “our population growth is speeding towards a brick wall.”

Despite Canada’s Total Fertility Rate (TFR) seeing an upward trend since 2003, rising from 1.53 to the current rate of about 1.7, it nonetheless falls well below the 2.1 children-per-woman replacement level that demographers say is necessary for a stable population and economy.

“Anyway you slice it, a healthy society that has enough people to support its elders needs to have the replacement rate of 2.1,” said Andrea Mrozek, manager of research and communications at the Institute for Marriage and Family Canada (IMFC).

Mrozek recently told LifeSiteNews that Canada’s social welfare state, with all its benefits and services provided by the government, is paid for by taxes. She called the current situation where women are not having enough children “troubling” because it means that there will be less people to contribute to the benefits, support, and services that older retired citizens are counting on receiving.

“[Canada’s] demographics are troubling if we consider that it’s not sustainable, that we don’t have people to support our parents and grandparents,” she said.

Data from Statistics Canada has indicated that within a decade there will be more Canadians over the age of 65 than under the age of 15.

Scenarios envisioned by Statistics Canada project that migratory increase could account for more than 80% of Canada’s population growth by 2031.

But critics have argued that migratory increase does not provide a workable solution to Canada’s demographic problem.

The Centre for Immigration Policy Reform (CIPR) based in Ottawa has argued that it is a myth that Canada can solve its problem of an aging population and low fertility rates by opening its doors to large numbers of immigrants who would then provide the workers and the tax base necessary to support the country’s social services.

“While it is true Canadians are living longer and having fewer babies, research shows that immigration has almost no impact on offsetting the costs of an aging population. Immigrants themselves grow old and draw on social support services while on average they have families as small as those of other Canadians,” says the CIPR.

“For immigrants to make a net contribution to the support of social services, they would have to pay more in taxes than they receive in benefits. In recent years this has not been the case as newcomers have usually earned substantially less than native-born Canadians and have drawn significantly more in social services than they have paid in taxes.”

The Institute for Marriage and Family Canada has argued that the government creating policies that encourage and strengthen the family as a unit is a necessary part of the solution to lessen the effects of an impending demographic winter.