Here's an Op-Ed from the Toronto Star arguing it should be a Canadian priority to get the birth rate up. I don't disagree with it but I do take issue with how it skirts over the immigration angle.
The author mentions immigration in passing and when he does he implies immigration as part of the solution to counteract a demographic decline. While immigration can contribute to population growth any positive effects it is intended to have on reversing or stabilizing an ageing demographic trend and continue population growth are negligible at best. As long as the national birth rate remains below replacement levels and continuous population growth is the desired goal then increasing numbers of immigrants are going to be needed indefinitely to keep the population growing.
The problem with this is that it is not a feasible course of action. The immigration system is already too costly for it's own good and forever allowing increasing numbers of immigrants into the country each succeeding year is unsustainable. The system will eventually collapse on itself and precious tax dollars will be eaten up by it that could otherwise be spent on improving the economy. So while some see immigration as part of the solution I see it as part of the problem and here's why.
If increasing the national birthrate is desirable we need to look at causes for why it's low in the first place and I think the answer to that is obvious: it's damn well expensive living here. The cost of living is high and immigration has helped make it so.
It does this by inflating the cost of housing. Vancouver is one of the most unaffordable cities in the world at the moment and this has to do with sky-rocketing house prices driven into the stratosphere by Asian immigrants and money. The picture is the same for Toronto as well as Calgary and Montreal. The cost of housing is the costliest of family expenditures and as more and more of a couple's disposable income is going into providing a home for their family it means less money available to have more children.
Another effect is on incomes. Immigrants have not improved the incomes for the majority of Canadians. Far from it. They have driven their incomes down or at best contributed to their stagnation in the face of inflation. Again this translates into less disposable income for families to have more children.
Because of this immigrants and their Canadian born children characteristically adopt similar birthrates as their Canadian counterparts do with few exceptions; Muslims being one but that has to do with religious reasons and a lack of shame in exploiting the welfare system.
The author argues, and I agree, that Canada needs to get the national birthrate up. Throughout most of Canada's history the nation's population grew naturally and less so because of immigration. We need to do this again and stop turning to immigration as the solution.
As an aside there are some questions that should be raised. One is do we really need continuous population growth? Perhaps population stabilization is more desirable. Also, maybe there are benefits to population decline that are not being entertained. I think it's worthy of analysis. In any case, for the population growth advocates out there I ask you this: is the Canadian standard of living higher today in a nation with a population with 33 million people than it was when Canada had a population of 25 million? I don't think so. In fact I think it's possible that we're worse off.