Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Baby boomers bidding good night

BY  ,QMI AGENCY



On behalf of my generation, I'm sorry we're about to let you down Canada.
Demographer Laurent Martel understands. He's seen the numbers. And has glimpsed at our future.
Among the graphs, charts and data released Wednesday by Statistics Canada -- the first in staggered releases of analysis from the 2011 census -- is a look at our nation's population over the next five decades.
Martel, a senior analyst for StatsCan, has mapped out where the current tide is leading us. For many Canadians, don't get too dejected because you knew this was coming, it's to the grave.
But to those coming from other countries, it's the opportunity to become Canada's lifeblood.
I was born at the tail end of the baby boom generation, arriving from the mid-40s to mid-60s. As a worldwide force, we've come up with some great advances -- non-dairy creamer, computer games, soft contact lenses, the ATM, the Hacky Sack and even liposuction.
But Martel notes in the decades to come in Canada, the gap between the numbers of births versus the number of deaths will shrink.
The aging of the population will speed up between 2011 and 2031 as baby boomers reach 65. By 2026, the first of my generation will turn 80 years old. And no, we will not be kindly old people. We intend to be cranky and butt in at the lottery lineup.
For analysts like Martel, the unknowns in the crystal ball include whether as many immigrants will flock to Canada and what the fertility rate will be in this country.
But one factor is certain.
"We know the baby boomers are all born ... and they will die," says Martel.
This means, in another twenty years, immigration into Canada could account for more than 80% of our nation's population growth. Today, it's about 67%.
Without a sustained level of immigration or a substantial increase in fertility, Canada's population growth could, within 20 years, be close to zero.
But our growth in the world, especially among western countries, is so far impressive.
Both Japan and Germany have seen decreases in population, thanks in part to immigration restrictions.
Though the U.S. has us beat when it comes to babies they still produce. American women average slightly more than two while their Canadian sisters have a fertility rate of about 1.7 'lil Canucks.
By 2056, there will be -- give or take a Canadian -- 50.7 million people in our country.
And while we've always prided ourselves on being a nation built by immigration, this will be particularly true in the decades to come.
So, again, we baby boomers are sorry we're all about to take some time off on the heavy lifting, and you'll have to call in outside help.
But the Hacky Sack just wore us out.