If the census figures released Thursday prove anything, it's that there's not enough of us in Canada.
There's not enough young people to support an aging population and there's not enough skilled workers to keep Canada's companies competitive.
According to CBC.ca, between now and 2020, baby-boomer retirements coupled with declining birth rates are expected to produce labour deficits of approximately 163,000 in construction, 130,000 in oil and gas, 60,000 in nursing, 37,000 in trucking, 22,000 in the hotel industry and 10,000 in the steel trades.
Notwithstanding the current headlines that trumpet high unemployment rates, governments must deal with this enduring problem now or face a future of economic stagnancy.
Our country's primary strategy to cope with our labour problems has been to attract workers from other countries.
In 2010 Canada welcomed a record number of immigrants (280,000), plus a record number of temporary foreign workers (182,000) and foreign students (96,000).
Yet to maintain even a nominal level of growth in our labour force, that number needs to increase in the coming years.
The challenge however, is that other industrialized jurisdictions around the world are feeling the same labour pinch and like Canada, have also chosen immigration as their policy solution.
The U.S., U.K., and Australia, in particular, have been proactive in luring skilled migrants and thus have made the business of immigration increasingly competitive. Moreover, the two countries that we have traditionally relied on for new workers -- China and India -- have fairly robust economies themselves, resulting in fewer people wanting to emigrate.
It's clear Canada needs to find alternative solutions. A more sustainable strategy might be for governments and businesses to focus on developing a 'homemade' labour supply; maybe it's time for governments to tackle the problem of slumping fertility rates.
But as Licia Corbella of the Calgary Herald explains, Canadians don't like having babies.
"Since the late 1960s — the sexual revolution of birth control and rising abortion rates — the number of births in Canada declined, and by 1976, fertility had fallen to less than 1.8 children per woman, when the replacement level is 2.1 children per woman," she wrote.
University of B.C. family policy professor Paul Kershaw recently released a survey suggesting a crucial factor in declining birthrates is the increasing cost of raising children in Canadian cities.
Unfortunately, Canadian governments and business have historically done little to assist new parents with financial aid. Despite common perceptions, Canada trails behind much of the developed world in offering the maternity and family benefits that would facilitate a homegrown solution to our labour shortage.
A 2008 study conducted by McGill University found that 106 countries provide mothers with 100 per cent wage replacement while on maternity leave; in most provinces, women are only guaranteed 55 per cent.
Thirty-nine countries have implemented laws that guarantee women paid leave to address their children's health needs; in Canada, no province or territory provides such an allowance.
Canada can no longer ignore that it's becoming less efficient for us to import people; worldwide demand of the scarce "human resource" will only continue to increase. As a result, governments must do a better job to encourage the "manufacture" of babies.