Population and Canada


62 pages
Contains Illustrations, Bibliography
ISBN 0-7713-0116-2




Reviewed by D. Paul Lumsden

D. Paul Lumsden was Associate Professor of Anthropology at York University, Toronto.


This booklet’s coverage is far wider than its title may indicate. The author argues that “Canadians should be familiar with their own unique demographic situation and should be prepared for more individual involvement in decisions that affect their futures.” Thus, the author wants the reader to reflect not only on population growth but also on such related social issues as energy and land use, food production, family planning, our aging population, urban stress, and immigration policy. Since there are but 52 pages of actual text, clearly only tidbits for further discussion can be provided on all these topics.

The Introduction discusses “the demographic transition” and “doubling time”: Canada’s population growth rate is 1.1 percent per year, and it may take 63.6 years for our population to  double. The next section also discusses key concepts — e.g., birth rate, death rate, and total fertility rate. Section three discusses three factors: natural increase, net immigration, and internal migration. Section four comments on various population levels projected for the next few decades: one such projection claims the need for “the creation of more than 2.25 million new jobs” during the 1980s! Section five focuses on energy conservation and on Quality of Life indicators. Section six poses many worthwhile questions facing the formulation of any National Population Policy. Section seven addresses the World System, with a brief look at China’s population policy, world food reserves, and the world grain trade — though the “Merchants of Grain” are not pursued.

Section seven also gives the figure for Canadian “official development assistance” (ODA), on foreign aid, as being “about 0.56% of Canada’s GNP”; but, in fact the situation is much worse — the 1983 CIDA Statistical Annex gives the 1981-82 ODA as being less than 0.44% of our GNP. As a whole, the booklet does not grapple with community epidemiology, with differential morbidity and mortality rates by ethnic group, by class, and by gender. Thus, by ignoring such illness and disease patterns, the true “costs” of living in our society, costs borne more by some categories of citizens (e.g., Indians) than by others, are not displayed or addressed. Much of the necessary reformist critique of our social structure and values is thereby ignored. Changing the meaning of “work” in our age of permanent unemployment and of microelectronics needs to be considered too. The booklet will be of use, used along with some of its companion works (Growing Old, Child Abuse, Divorce, etc.), in sparking off discussions in high school classes.


Barrett, Michael, “Population and Canada,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed November 28, 2023, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/38923.