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Low birthrate means Canadians are fading out

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Canada: Our Suicidal Northern Neighbor

Low birthrate means Canadians are fading out

Liberals, of the sort who just won control of Congress, like to say that the United States should become more like Canada. So let’s take a quick look at our highly respected northern neighbor from a demographic perspective. Experts are always analyzing all sorts of trends to judge a country’s health, yet demographics are often ignored. But how many factors affect a society long-term more than birthrates, aging, and the like?
 
Canada has many good qualities, such as a low violent crime rate, lots of open space, and excellent maple syrup. She has some unfortunate ones as well, such as a socialist health care system that forces citizens to wait years for major medical procedures finished within weeks in the United States, not to mention a tendency to blame America for the world’s problems. Yet at the rate she’s going, Canada’s qualities soon won’t matter one way or another, because the liberals’ second-favorite nation (France being most beloved) is committing suicide.
 
The United States’ birthrate is 2.0, slightly below replacement level, which is enough to cause massive aging and financial problems such as the bankruptcy of Social Security and Medicare. Canada’s birthrate is a fatal 25% less, at 1.5. Canadians are fading out. Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s conservative government is considering small measures to increase Canada’s birthrate, measures that are almost certain to be too little, too late.
 
Even the United Nations’ overly optimistic projections say that the proportion of Canadian 65 or over will go from 13% today to 25% by 2040, and continue to rise from there. Imagine living in a nation where 1 of 4 people are of retirement age. The proportion of the oldest old, 80 or over, will triple. Those between 15 and 24 will drop from 13.5% to 11%. Who will support all these elderly Canadians, with their generous social services so attractive to American liberals?
 
And Canada’s birthrate continues to drop. It could easily reach 1.0 in a decade. It declined by 25% between 1992 and 2002, and its current stabilized situation is unlikely to last given underlying cultural trends. The liberal, populous provinces of Ontario and Quebec are losing babies the fastest, while the more conservative sparse areas in the west of the country are doing better—but not liberal British Columbia.
 
French Catholic Quebec, like Latin Catholic Italy and Spain, is imploding demographically. The denizens of Quebec may huff and puff about preserving their cultural and linguistic heritage, but they don’t care enough about it to actually produce more Quebecois. The ‘60s hit Quebec hard: In 1959, she had the highest birthrate in Canada. By 1971, she already had the lowest, though those of Italy and Spain are even lower than hers today. Who says the ‘60s revolution failed?
 
“Not long ago, Quebec was a Catholic Christian society, whose loyalty to its faith and historic traditions seemed unswerving,” wrote Ted Byfield in the Calgary Sun last month. “Now, having all but abandoned the Church, it has the lowest attendance rates in Canada–and the highest rate of cohabitation outside marriage, highest divorce and abortion rates and lowest birthrate. The cry of the Quebec separatists, who now sizably outnumber federalists, is they must leave Canada to preserve their heritage and culture. This is simply a lie. First to last, their culture and heritage is Catholic Christian, and they have forsaken it. What they want to preserve is somebody else’s culture, Sweden’s perhaps.”
 
Also last month, prominent Quebec leader and former premier Lucien Bouchard generated a lot of protest when he condemned Quebec’s combination of massive debt, low productivity, and abysmal birthrate. He pointed out that the situation could not continue much longer.
 
“We don’t work hard enough. We work less than Ontarians and infinitely less than Americans,” he said. He said that Quebec cannot sustain her large social programs and other benefits, such as low college tuition, while working much less than Americans and having few children.
 
“In Quebec it’s like being in a big plane,” he said. “It’s warm and comfortable, with no problems. But when you look out the pilot’s window, you see a big mountain, and it’s certain we’re going to crash into it.”
 
If current trends continue, the rest of Canada is right behind.

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Written By

Mr. D'Agostino, former associate editor of HUMAN EVENTS, is vice president for Communications at the Population Research Institute.

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