Pradip Rodrigues

At the start of 2020, a Statistics Canada report estimated that the Canadian population could rise to 48.8 million by 2050. While pro-immigration folks never fail to point out that Canada is a large country with plenty of room for hundreds of millions more people, the sobering truth is that a majority of immigrants will end up gravitating toward the handful of Canadian cities hugging the US border because there are simply not enough jobs being created in large swaths of this country. In fact, many towns and small cities are actually losing their young working-age residents because of a lack of opportunities.

The StatsCan report pointed out that British Columbia with its current population of 5-million people today, will grow by 1.3-million by 2041. Most of these new residents will make their homes in Greater Vancouver.

Alberta expects to attract 2.3-million people and is resigned to 80 per cent of them settling down in Edmonton and Calgary.

In Quebec immigrants will mostly settle in the Montreal area
All this palls when compared to the flood of immigrants heading down to Ontario, more specifically the Greater Toronto Area. The province is bracing for a whopping 7-million people to make Ontario their home by 2046. The Golden Horseshoe region from Niagara to Kitchener-Waterloo and Barrie which by 2046, will be called Greater, Greater Toronto Area will have 14.6-million people, up from 10 million today.

Now all this might sound quite exciting to South Asian and Chinese real estate brokers and investors who will go on a buying spree on news of such a projection, but cities across the country are woefully unprepared to deal with such large numbers. Infrastructure is barely keeping up with the current population leave alone future population projections.

Last week it was reported that in 2019, 76% of all jobs in Canada was generated in Ontario, most of which was concentrated in the GTA. This is actually an unhealthy trend because it is leading to the growth of the working poor. A diminishing quality of life awaits young people getting into the workforce and the vast majority of new immigrants hoping to settle down in their adopted country.

It is a classic Catch-22. Immigrants and other Canadians from small towns across the country are gravitating to mostly southern Ontario which is seeing an unprecedented jump in population, a rise in housing affordability and rents that are eating up a major chunk of one’s income.

And since most talent is now concentrated in southern Ontario, companies are either setting up shop or expanding operations in the region. Other smaller cities away from the action are being starved of jobs and any meaningful economic growth. This is exacerbating the housing crisis in big cities that is a turning into a leading cause for poverty and the rise in the number of working poor.

In an ideal world, immigrants would opt for small towns that boast adequate infrastructure, jobs and affordable housing instead of being forced to live in large cities. But that doesn’t seem likely in Canada. Apart from a few regions, most of this country is destined to be a little more than one giant national park.

Meanwhile cities like Toronto will look and feel like overcrowded megapolises like Tokyo, Hong Kong and hold your breath, Mumbai. And that is without taking into account the demographic mix which will by then be mostly South Asian and Chinese. -CINEWS


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