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As immigration debate rages on, new report makes the case for more newcomers

August 5, 2023

By Business in Vancouver

At a time when skeptics are questioning Canada’s plan to ramp up immigration, a new report argues the country needs to welcome a lot more newcomers to counter-balance its aging demographic.

A Desjardins report released Monday analyzes how much population growth among working-age Canadians is necessary to maintain the old-age dependency ratio, which refers to the ratio between 15 to 64-year-olds and those aged 65 and older.

It finds that the working-age population would have to grow by 2.2 per cent per year through 2040 to maintain the same ratio that existed in 2022.

And if the country wanted to go back to the average old-age dependency ratio it had between 1990 and 2015, that group of Canadians would have to grow by 4.5 per cent annually.

“I feel like the discussion around immigration levels in Canada, by and large, focuses on the immediate impact on the Canadian housing market,” said Randall Bartlett, Desjardins’ senior director of Canadian economics.

“And so what I wanted to do was sort of zoom out and provide some broader economic context around immigration and why immigration to Canada is important.”

The prospective ramp-up of immigration levels has sparked debate on whether the country can handle higher flows of newcomers amid a housing crisis, and what the total economic impact of having more people in the country would be.

Canada’s population grew by more than one million people last year, a record for the country. Its total population grew by 2.7 per cent, the fastest rate since 1957.

The strong population growth comes as the Liberal government eyes higher annual immigration targets, which would see the country welcome 500,000 immigrants per year by 2025.

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