Finance Minister: ‘Canada’s rapidly aging workforce’ an urgent problem now
OTTAWA, August 15, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Finance Minister Jim Flaherty told a group of policy consultants at a meeting in Wakefield, Que. last week that “Canada’s rapidly aging workforce” is a problem that is beginning to impact the federal government now, and cannot be relegated to the backburner to be dealt with sometime in the future.
Flaherty observed that despite great concern over recent economic crises and the current stock market fluctuations, “The need to address current challenges must not keep us from tackling the key questions that affect our future prosperity.”
These “key questions” include rising health care costs from an aging population compounded by fewer working-age taxpayers to foot the bill.
Flaherty’s concern is backed up by a draft report, titled “Canada’s Changing Demographics: The Impacts of Population Aging,” on the impacts of Canada’s aging population that was unveiled to government deputy ministers last November by Privy Council Clerk Wayne Wouters. It confirms that the demographic impact of an aging population, low birth rate, and a declining pool of younger taxpayers, is being felt now.
“The oldest baby boomers start to turn 65 in 2011, meaning the dependency ratio will start to increase significantly in a matter of months,” states the report, which The Globe and Mail obtained in redacted form under Access to Information.
“A Canada where seniors outnumber children is uncharted territory,” the report states, and offers proposals such as incentives to boost fertility rates, coaxing younger immigrants to come to Canada, and encouraging Canadians to work longer.
In May 2010, the Demography Division of Statistics Canada predicted that the number of seniors will surpass the number of children aged 14 or under for the first time ever sometime between 2015 and 2021.
The population projections for 2009 to 2036 found that Canada’s population will age rapidly until 2031, by which time the entire baby boom generation will have turned 65. Thereafter it would continue aging, but at a less rapid pace.
“Projections show that seniors would account for between 23% and 25% of the total population by 2036, nearly double the 13.9% in 2009. Higher immigration levels would do little to change the forthcoming aging of the Canadian population,” the report stated.
In February 2010 Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page released one of the first official reports that addressed the disastrous consequences of Canada’s long-term below replacement birth rate.
Canada’s steady 1.5 birth rate, far below the 2.1 replacement rate, along with the accompanying aging of the population will result in “a major demographic transition,” that could have devastating financial results, the report warned.
“The Government’s current fiscal structure is not sustainable over the long term,” said the report. In order to compensate for the low birth rate the report said there must be very substantial increases in taxation and major cuts to government services, amounting to $14-28 billion.
But according to demographer Robert Sassone, PhD, the solution to demographic implosion and the resulting financial crisis is not immigration, higher taxes or raising the retirement age, but lies in increasing the fertility rate.
In response to the Page report, Dr. Sassone told LifeSiteNews last year that beyond making abortion illegal, “we must change the attitudes of people towards having babies.”
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