Parliament Report Sounds Alarm: Low Birth Rate + Aging = Financial Crisis
By John-Henry Westen
OTTAWA, February 18, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) - One of the first official reports to indicate the disastrous consequences of Canada’s long-term below, replacement birth rate was released in Ottawa today by Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page. While pro-life leaders have been warning of the impending disaster for years as abortion and contraception have wreaked demographic havoc, the financial fallout is beginning to strike home to governments worldwide.
Taking into account Canada’s steady 1.5 birth rate, far below the 2.1 replacement rate, along with the accompanying ageing of the population, the report warns that “a major demographic transition is underway.”
“During this time, the ageing of the population will move an increasing share of Canadians out of their prime working- age and into their retirement years,” says the report. “With an older population, spending pressures in areas such as health care and elderly benefits are projected to intensify. At the same time, slower labour force growth is projected to restrain growth in the economy, which will in turn slow the growth of government revenue.”
The financial result is devastating, says the report. “The Government’s current fiscal structure is not sustainable over the long term,” says the report. In order to compensate for the low birth rate the report says there must be very substantial increases in taxation and major cuts to government services, amounting to 14 to 28 billion dollars.
The parliamentary report follows about two and a half years after a Canadian Senate committee released a report on demographics, forebodingly entitled "The Demographic Time Bomb: Mitigating the Effects of Demographic Change in Canada".
In that report the auditor general of Canada was reported as saying: “The demographic die is cast: there is little we can do to reverse or even slow the ag(e)ing of Canada’s population over the coming decades. But it is certainly within our power to plan better for it. And better planning begins with better information concerning the long-term fiscal implications of the coming demographic shift.”
LifeSiteNews (LSN) spoke with demographer Robert Sassone, PhD, for some perspective on the findings of the report. Sassone, author of the “Handbook on Popoulation,” explained that the situation boils down to this: “Too many needy people and too few workers means big trouble ahead for Canada.”
According to the UN World Population Prospects, the 2004 Revision, Canada’s births during the 1950-1965 baby boom years averaged 436,000 per year. “These are the people who will soon retire, leaving the workforce and joining those needing social security payments and other assistance from the government,” explained Dr. Sassone. “In contrast, less than 400,000 were born every year since.”
“This much smaller number of people entering the workforce will now be faced with paying the taxes for the benefits of the much larger number of baby boomers reaching retirement age each year beginning in 2015. The number retiring each year will be substantially greater than the number entering the work force each year, so the total number of workers will decline as the amount of money required for retirees skyrockets.”
Unfortunately the scenario is a spiraling one and gets successively worse. “Another serious problem is that as these baby boomers age, they will require far more medical care, so Canada’s medical system will have to cope with a vast increase in demand and a substantial decline in medical personnel,” says Sassone. “But these near future problems will be tiny compared to what we face after 2030. The increased taxes necessary due to the birth dearth and the desire for new technology such as computers, Ipods, cell phones, et al. make it harder for young families to afford new babies.”
The solution to the problem says Sassone will not be found in immigration. He explained:
“In the past Canada could solve this problem of too few babies, then too few workers by encouraging massive immigration, but can no longer do so for four reasons. 1) These problems caused by past low birth rate make Canada a far less attractive country to immigrate to; 2) the number of babies born in the world has declined every year since 1985-1990 so there are fewer young workers seeking to immigrate; 3) new technology and the improving world economy have enabled most formerly poor countries to improve living conditions so that fewer want to immigrate, and 4) Europe and the US are now competing with Canada for large numbers of immigrants, making it harder for Canada to attract immigrants.”
The key to solving the problem lies in increasing the fertility rate. And beyond making abortion illegal, which will help, Dr. Sassone said, “we must change the attitudes of people towards having babies.”
The mainstream media, and especially the entertainment media is key in the battle. “The media for 40 years has been trying to diminish the fertility rate,” said Sassone. “I have attended meetings starting in 1970 where writers and producers were invited and told they had to reduce fertility to save the world and were offered a prize for the best TV program in the next year to reduce fertility.”
Such ventures may sound conspiratorial, however the evidence for them abounds. One such group “Population Communications International” boasts of their efforts on their website: http://www.population.org/
See the full report from the Parliamentary Budget Officer here.