Charting Canada’s Future – Summary

1.Who commissioned Charting Canada’s Future? (Health and Welfare Canada) (VPL Call #: 304.60971 C48c)

2. When? April, 1986

3. When was the report finished? 1989 (Latest dates for some of studies used in report are 1989) The report was published on December 12, 1989. Length: 65 pages

4. What was the purpose of the report?

A. To study possible changes in size, structure and distribution of the population of Canada to 2025

B. To report on how these changes might affect Canada’s social and economic life

5. What is in the report?

A. Graphic presentation of trends

B. The Argument: a series of notes on the graphs, their sources and the issues they encompass

C. Bibliography and list of research studies carried out for the review

6. Who was consulted?

A. Business C. Ethnocultural and Social Policy Groups E. Federal Departments and

B. Labour D. Provincial Governments Agencies

7. Who did the research? 200 scholars (167 different studies) from across Canada: 1/3 from Ontario; 1/3 from Quebec; 1/5 from west; 3/20 from Atlantic; 20% of scholars were women. Scholars came from a wide range of disciplines: economics, sociology, geography, political science, anthropology, and demography.

8. What are the implications of Current Trends for Canada’s Future Population Growth?

A. Despite below replacement fertility, Canada’s population would continue to increase until 2026 to 29 million. (With annual immigration at 130,000)

B. In 2026, a slow decline would begin. In 2086 (100 years from time of study), Canada’s population would be 25 million.

C. In 200 to 300 years, Canada’s population would stabilize at 18 million.

D. Without any immigration, Canada’s population would be 19 million in 2086.

9. What are the prospects for regional population growth? Quebec: Slower than national average; Ontario: higher; West and Atlantic: Average (Anglophone areas have become more anglophone; Francophone areas have become more francophone.)

10. Is population growth a factor in economic growth or economic well-being ? No, there is an absence of a correlation. Whether the population in Canada is 27,30 ,34 or 41 million makes little difference to income per person or per household.

11. What does affect economic growth or economic well-being?

A.It is not so much the numbers of people as their skills and the development of their skills.

B. Greater female participation in the workforce would produce a 10% increase in average wealth.

12. What will be the environmental impact of zero, present trend and 1% population growth rates on Canada’s forest inventory by 2036? Forest inventories will decline to 1/3 or less in all three cases. There will be much greater differences in cubic metres available per person.

A. Zero growth: Cubic metres available per person will decline to 1/3 of 1986 inventories (600 to 200).

B. Present trend growth: Cubic metres will decline to less than 1/3 (600 to 175).

C. One percent growth: Cubic metres will decline to 1/6 (600 to 100).

NOTE: Forests were the only environmental indicator that was measured. Immigration accelerates environmental degradation.

13. What was the dominant family type in 1986?

A.Three million were double income (Both spouses present and both working.)

B. The number of single parent families increased 4 times between 1961 and 1986. Most were women led.

14. What major changes have happened to Canadian families and Canadian society since 1871?

A. Household size declined from 5.2 to 2.8.

B. The number of farmers decreased from 63% to 4%.

C. The number of women not in the work force went from 85% to 42%.

15. What is the Baby Boom and when did it begin?

A. The term Baby Boom means an increase in the number of births per decade.

B. It began in the late 1930’s, peaked in 1959 and disappeared by the early 1970’s.

16. What is happening to the age structure of Canada’s population?

A. Canada’s age structure is moving from a pyramid to a vase (or nearly box ) shape. (A pyramid portays a society with a high fertility rate and a rapidly growing population. A vase or box portrays a society with a low fertility rate and a predominance of middle-aged and older people.) A vase or box age structure has roughly equal numbers of each age group.

B. In 2031, Canada will be like Sweden was in 1985. (Most European countries have this vase structure.) Sweden is dynamic and prosperous. With proper planning and careful utilization of resources, Canada should be too.

17. What caused the aging of Canada’s population? A historical decline in fertility (The baby boom delayed the onset of the fertility decline.) and an increase in longevity.

18. How does the percentage of 65+ people in Canada’s population compare with that of some developed western countries? (1986-1989 figures)

The number of 65+ people in Canada’s population is around 10% compared to France, West Germany and Sewden with 12, 14 and 16%. Some developed western countries have had low fertility rates for a longer time than Canada and those countries did not have a baby boom to delay the decline in fertility.

19. How does immigration affect Canada’s age structure?

A. Immigration has only a short-term effect.

B. Increases in immigration to as high as 600,000 per year have, in the long run, no impact on the age structure. In other words, the percentage of dependents (young and old) does not change significantly.

C. Even changing the age structure of immigrants from 23% below Age 15 in 1988 to 30% below 18 and then 50% below 15 have little long-term impact on Canada’s overall age structure.

20. If immigration has little or no effect on changing Canada’s age structure, what would change the long-term trend toward an older society?

Only a significant increase in the birth rate–for example to 3.1– will change the trend.

21. How does today’s percentage of Canadians in the traditional labour force (ages 15 to 65) compare with percentages in the past? (Assumption: Canada needs a significant number of people working in order to pay for its dependents: both the young and the old.)

Since 1851, the percentage of potential labour force people has always been 50% or higher of the total population: from 53% in 1851 to 60% in 1901 to 62% in 1951 to 67% in both 1981 and 1991 and to an estimated 65% and 62% in 2021 and 2031. The year 1961 had a labour force low of 58%. In other words, many Canadians have already seen a year of a very low labour force.This number will not be reached again until after 2031.

22. What does the term Dependency ratio mean?

It means the number of people that each member of the labour force supports, including oneself.

23. What has been Canada’s dependency ratio since 1961 and, assuming current trends, what will be Canada’s dependency ratio in 2031?

A. In 1961, each working Canadian supported 2.6 other dependent Canadians (young and old).

B. In 1989 (year of this study), each working Canadian supported 1.95 other dependent Canadians.

C. In 2031, each working Canadian will support 2.2 other dependent Canadians.

NOTE: In other words, the number of dependent Canadians that each working Canadian will support in the year 2031 will be considerably fewer than that suppported by each working Canadian in 1961. It should be noted that the majority of dependents supported in 1961 were young people. The majority of dependents to be supported in 2031 will be older people. Older people are more expensive to support.

24. What effect would an increase in Canada’s fertility rate to 2.5 have on Canada’s dependency ratio to 2031? Because there would be more children (more dependents), the ratio would decrease only slightly to 2.15.

24. What effect would an increase in immigration from 140,000 to 200,000 have on Canada’s dependency ratio to 2031? It also would have only a slight effect, reducing the dependency ratio to 2.12.

25. If increasing the fertility rate and increasing immigration have no great impact on Canada’s dependency ratio, what factors would have a larger impact to 2031?

A. Increasing the female labour force participation rate would reduce the DR to 2.08.

B. Increasing the 45+ male participation rate to 1965 levels would reduce the DR to 2.02.

C. Increasing both A and B would reduce the DR to 1.9.

NOTE: In other words, increasing the labour force participation rates of females and 45+ men has a more significant effect on the dependency ratio than a 200,000 immigration level. Also, this reduction does not have all of the costs of immigration.

(Additional Note: It is very difficult to calculate the true costs of immigration because the federal Department of Citizenship and Immigration does not keep records of total costs. Significant amounts of immigration costs are passed on to the provinces.

26. Are Canada’s elderly evenly distributed across the country?

No. In 1986, B.C.’s Sunshine Coast and Okanagan, Southeast Saskatchewan, Southwestern Manitoba, Southeastern Ontario, and Northern Nova Scotia-Southern New Brunswick had the greatest percentages of the Canadian elderly.

In 2006, B.C.’s southern Vancouver Island, Sunshine Coast, Okanagan and Kootenays, South-Central and East Central Saskatchewan, Southeast Manitoba, Southeastern Ontario, and Southwestern Quebec will have the greatest percentages of the elderly.

27. What has been the percentage of foreign-born in Canada over the past century?

A. In 1901, it was 12.5%.

B. In 1911 and 1921, it had increased to 22%.

C. In 1931, it had decreased to 17%.

D. For the period 1931 to 1986, it was around 15%.

NOTE: In other words, Canada is a country of people who have immigration in their past. Canada is not a country of recent or relatively recent immigrants.

28. What was the percentage population increase in Canada in the 1901-1911 period? The Atlantic, Quebec and Ontario areas grew by 5 to 20%, but the western provinces grew from 80 to 500%. Saskatchewan had the highest growth, going from 90,000 to 490,000.

29. How has Canada’s demographic map changed in the past 100 years?

Before 1901, The Atlantic, Quebec and Ontario areas dominated. After 1911, the West acquired a much larger influence.

30. Where have the highest percentages of foreign-born settled in Canada?

Over the past 100 years, a significantly higher number of immigrants have gone to Ontario, the Prairies and B.C. Today, the highest numbers go to Ontario and B.C.

31.Has the origin of immigrants changed from 1956 to 1986?

Yes. The Other category (Countries sending too few immigrants to be counted in the top ten sources) grew from around 20% in 1956 to around 45% in 1986.

32. Has the impact of immigration been evenly distributed in Canada?

No. In 1956, Halifax and Toronto had between 75 and 85% of their populations of British origin. In 1986, that proportion had not changed in Halifax. In Toronto, it had become close to 50% non-British in origin.

33. What has been the focus of immigration to Canada?

Immigration to Canada from 1956 to 1986 has been not a national but a highly focused urban phenomenon. Montreal and the large cities west of Quebec (especially Toronto and Vancouver) have taken the vast majority of immigrants.

34. What has been the economic contribution (average income) of immigrants compared to Canadian-born over the period 1961 to 1984?

Male immigrants from all sources earned slightly more than ($1000 to $2000) or equal to their Canadian-born counterparts from 1961 to 1980, but began to earn less , as a group, ($5000) than their Canadian-born counterparts from 1980 on.

Female immigrants earned slightly more ($1000 to $1500) or equal to their Canadian counterparts from 1961 to 1974, but began to earn less from 1975 to 1979 and less still ($2500) from 1980 to 1984.

35. Does the educational level of immigrants differ from that of Canadian-born?

Among women immigrants, there have been a larger number with 14 years and over of education in both the 1981 and 1986 censuses. In 1986, Canadian-born women with 9 to 13 years of education outnumbered their immigrant counterparts.

Among men immigrants, there were a larger number with 14 years and over of education than Canadian-born in both the 1981 and 1986 censuses.

In general, immigrants tended to have higher educational levels than their Canadian 1981 and 1986. (NOTE: Immigrant educational levels have declined in the last 15 years.)


1. In the first graphs, emigration is assumed to be 50,000 per year. An assumption of Net Immigration of 80,000 means an annual immigration of 130,000.

2. A total fertility rate of 2.1 is below the replacement level. (Premature deaths, accidents, birth defects)

3. Three questions were asked about the connection between population change (growth) and economic growth:

A. Is population change (growth) related to economic growth? The data reveal a positive but weak relationship. Population change explains only 12% of the change in GDP.

B. Does a relationship between population change (growth) and real GDP per person exist? OECD data reveal a very weak relationship. Population change (growth) explains less than 1% of change (growth) in per capita GDP. The relationship that exists is negative: more population growth is related to less per capita growth in GDP.

C. Were countries with more population growth more successful in improving their economic position, or at least in lessening its deterioration? The relationship remains weak, with 4% of variation explained, and still negative.

4. The growing internationalization of trade makes the size of national markets increasingly irrelevant.

5. There are the makings of a consensus that the economic consequences of any likely population change, up or down, are minor compared with the consequences of other forces acting on the economy, and that the fiscal and monetary tools are sufficient to manage them. (P.47)

6. The U.S. Commission on Population and the American Future (1972), (which consisted of America’s most distinguished economists) made a definitive statement about the economic necessity of population growth. We have looked for, and have not found, any convincing argument for continued national population growth. The health of our economy does not depend on it. The vitality of business does not depend on it. The welfare of the average person certainly does not depend on it.’ (Pp. 47-48)

7. There is no similar global Canadian statement. P. Fortin, one of the scholars who contributed to this research, however, is optimistic about the capacity of our economy to acccomodate without great difficulty the demographic transition we are now beginning. (P.48)

8. No one has yet found an effective method of calculating environmental costs, nor for that matter of redefining GDP to include elements of well-being not reflected in prices. The scientific community has been mobilizing to address the serious gaps in knowledge in this field. (P. 49)

9. The questions most often raised about dependency and the ageing society concern possible strains on government finance. An IMF study concludes that Canada would not see a large increase in these expenditures, and its position relative to the other developed countries would remain excellent. (P. 53)

10 The question of the economic contribution of immigration, as opposed to that of immigrants, is far more complex. Detailed work on savings and consumption patterns is being done by Marr, Percy and McCready. (P. 55)