Canada needs to get bigger if it wants to thrive in 21st century: BlackRock's Wiseman
If Canada wants to thrive in the 21st century, it needs to get bigger, according to BlackRock Inc.’s Mark Wiseman.
“If you look at Canada’s demographics today, we will grow – on current trend – to about 50 million people from 37 million today by about 2050, and then we stop growing,” Wiseman – the former CEO of the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and current global head of active equities at BlackRock - told BNN Bloomberg in an interview recorded on Thursday.
“This is a trend that we have to get on top of now. If we stop growing we will have a smaller economy. If we stop growing, we’ll be less important in the world, as the rest of the world grows around us.”
Wiseman is one of the leaders of the Century Initiative focused on Canada’s long-term economic goals, alongside the likes of Canada’s ambassador to China Dominic Barton and Business Council of Canada president Goldy Hyder. That initiative published a report on Thursday outlining a goal to get Canada’s population up to 100 million people by the year 2100.
The first of the 10 actions outlined by the initiative is to increase immigration immediately. However, Wiseman said that’s only a portion of the end goal.
“It’s actually not about immigration. It’s about population growth,” he said.
Wiseman added that a larger population means greater contributions into social programs like health care and education. However, he also cautioned that an eye towards large-scale growth will also require immediate action to build out transit, housing, education and – crucially – child care, which would allow a greater number of women to contribute to the workforce.
If Canada hopes to reach that 100-million population goal, Wiseman says the nation has to immediately boost its immigration numbers.
“All we have to do if we start acting today is increase by about 20 to 30 per cent from what we are doing today and then we get what’s known in investing as the compounding effect... Those immigrants will have children, those children will have children, et cetera,” he said.
“The longer we wait, the bigger the problem becomes.”
However, despite the need to grow the population, Wiseman remains bullish on the Canadian economy.
“I am incredibly optimistic in terms of the Canadian economy. And, I’m optimistic because we have such a fantastic base of human capital on [which] to build.”
“In the modern economy, by the way, that is what’s going to differentiate the countries that win and the countries that lose.”