Canada Needs Pro-Natal Policies
When it comes to forecasting the future, the birthrate is the nearest thing to hard numbers. If only a million babies are born in 2006, it's hard to have two million adults enter the workforce in 2026. And the hard data on babies around the Western world is that they're running out a lot faster than the oil is. – Mark Steyn
Canada is dying a slow death. Since 1972, we have had a below-replacement fertility rate in Canada. This means women have been having fewer children than needed in order to create population stability. Experts thought this was temporary. Experts were wrong.
In 1990, former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney saw the implications on the horizon and introduced mass immigration as a band-aid solution. By bringing in over 200,000 immigrants a year since 1990, Canada pushed back the demographic implosion, but didn’t halt it completely.
Today there are more seniors than kids in our country. As a result of this, our focus is more on healthcare than education. Pensions and benefits are more important than innovating future prosperity. Our economy has annually grown by only 1.59% over the past nine years despite the Harper Conservatives doing everything they could to encourage growth.
Is it our fate to simply sit back and slowly manage Canada’s decline? Do we just focus on borrowing money in order to feather the old folk’s sofas? Are we going to just pack it in and watch our national wealth be consumed tending to the needs of a dying population? Do we just rally behind expanding “death with dignity” policies and start killing everyone of a certain vintage?
Here’s three ideas to create a culture of life in Canada and build a national future leading to the next century.
#1. Double maternity leave time
The first two years of childhood development are radically important in the life of a child. Most babies are better off in the their mother’s care. If we extend the maternity leave by an extra year, these babies will reap the rewards of doting parental attention. This will pay dividends years later with better cared for kids growing up into better acting adults.
This will also open up longer maternity-leave temporary positions. Filling in for someone over the course of two years is more attractive to temporary employees (and employers) then filling in for one year or less. Since Canada isn’t exactly a job factory right now, many millennials would gladly receive more opportunities to attain that elusive “experience” for the resume.
#2. Full wage during maternity leave
Much has been made about the wage gap between men and women. We all know that the reason for this is mostly due to women taking "baby breaks". Many women don’t return to the workforce, or prefer part-time or casual hours. Many women start fresh with a new more flexible career. “Mompreneurs” are a whole new element of the 21st Century.
The downside of these developments usually means a lower wage than what women could get if they simply stayed on the career path. So let’s keep paying them what they were making before they took time out to create a human being. If this means subsidizing a six-figure salary, then so be it. If this means a partial implementation of the trendy guaranteed minimum income notion that is constantly floated, so be it. The first step in child-rearing shouldn’t be a massive reduction in standard of living and quality of life. After all, the standard of living and quality of life Canadians already have, is as high as it is, because we’re living in the future that former baby-makers created. Keeping maternity leave at full pay will promote prosperity and encourage a cultural attitude shift away from viewing babies as career and financial liabilities.
#3. UCCB expanded to $500 per child, per month, under age 18
For years, the Liberals hammered away at the notion of Soviet-styled universal national day-care centres. Paul Martin, Stephan Dion, and Michael Ignatieff all went down in defeat while banging away on this issue. Finally Justin Trudeau and his team decided to give up the notion and just do what Harper did with the UCCB...only more...but means tested. People seemed to like it.
So let’s double down again and increase these baby bonuses to $500 a year, up to the age of 18. What will this cost? Who cares. It’s 2016. The Liberals proved that deficits don’t matter anymore, so let’s big-time offer an extremely popular, socially conservative incentive to the voters and win an election!
Canada needs people. We are an aging, mostly empty country and immigration isn’t going to cut it. It’s time to think bigger and bolder. Conservatives need to adopt a muscular pro-natalism policy that encourages family and resonates with voters. This will unite multiple branches of conservatives and bring in regular apolitical voters that might otherwise head for the leftist alternatives.
But seriously, can we afford it?
Our half measures right now aren’t working and it’s time to experiment with bigger and better policy. If conservative-minded politicians don’t address demographic problems with forward thinking policies, then someone else will and the reward will be power. The question moving forward with conservative policies isn’t, “Can we afford it?”, it’s “What needs to be solved and how do we win by solving it?”
Conservative Mission: Grandiosely expand pro-natalist policy in order to stem national decline, encourage healthier/stronger families and build a more prosperous future.