Does Canada have an immigration problem?

The landscape where Somali refugees are walking across the border, with the TV station tower some of them walk toward in the background.

Like so many other countries, Canada’s birth rate is less than its death rate. The logical conclusion, then, is that if Canada wants to maintain or grow its population, it will have to not only welcome but also actively recruit people from other countries to live here. The topic of immigration is highly political leading some to ask if Canada has an immigration problem.

Darrell Bricker, author of Empty Planet, says, “I wouldn’t say it’s a problem, I’d say it’s a challenge.” That challenge involves making new Canadians feel at home, selling communities on the long-term benefits of robust immigration, and managing the immigration system on a large scale.

“Canadian population growth has largely been through immigration, really since its beginning,” Bricker says in the interview found below. “Where we run into a problem is the actual management of the system.” He notes there are, of course, legitimate concerns regarding illegal border crossings, but the larger issue for Canada is integration of immigrants in urban areas and the lack of immigration to rural areas.

It’s important to recognize, though, that Canada is welcoming a lot of people and that has led to a lot of change — and change is difficult and unsettling, Bricker says.

For those who tend to push back against immigration, Bricker challenges that, as a country, we then would have to accept that our country is going to age (and aging is expensive) and allow the population to shrink, putting an ever-increasing strain on funding for infrastructure and more.

Where does agriculture fit in this? We were all told we have to “feed the nine billion by 2050,” but latest figures suggest that we most likely won’t get there and that if we do, the world population then drops off precipitously, according to Bricker. We’re also not attracting immigrants that are interested in living in rural areas, or have the backgrounds to farm in our climate.

How do we address this, as a country? Listen on to this fascinating discussion between Bricker and RealAg Radio host Shaun Haney.

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