Oh, Canada!

Seven years ago, California had almost 10% more people than Canada. That gap had persisted since 1990, and there was no reason to expect it to change. But over the past 7 years, Canada has gained almost 3.7 million people (to 39.566 million), while California’s population has grown by only 120,000. Canada now has more people than California.

In just the past year, Canada has gained 1.05 million people (a 2.7% growth rate), only slightly below the US gain of 1.256 million. (The Canadian figure is boosted by a bounce back from the depressed levels during Covid. The trend rate is probably closer to 500,000/year.)

But the total population of the US is more than 8 times larger than Canada (it used to be 9 times), and thus in percentage terms Canada is now growing far faster.

Canada has usually been regarded as an afterthought in geopolitical terms. If the Canadians maintain their high immigration policy, however, and if countries like Japan and Germany continue to experience extremely low birthrates, then it’s not inconceivable that Canada will eventually become a major player in world affairs.

But Canada needs to fix its housing problem, as barriers to construction create unnecessarily high housing prices. Obviously, Canada has plenty of land for twice its current population, even if you discount the vast northern region that is too cold for most people.

Matt Yglesias won’t get his 1 billion Americans, but a goal of 100 million Canadians is a worthwhile initiative for the 21st century. By then it might have almost 1/4th the US population. (Canada will have 1/4th of the astronauts on the next moon mission.)



16 Responses to “Oh, Canada!”

  1. Gravatar of RAD RAD
    4. April 2023 at 08:48

    Here is the release from Statistics Canada:


    I’m more worried about provincial electrical grids more than housing. Even without the population growth, the grid will need to grow by 2-3x by 2050 for the energy transition. Energy transition + population growth + economic growth requires significantly more electricity.

  2. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    4. April 2023 at 08:57

    RAD, Do NIMBYs in Canada fight against power lines?

  3. Gravatar of Brett Brett
    4. April 2023 at 09:12

    100 million Canadians definitely seems doable.

    Obviously, Canada has plenty of land for twice its current population, even if you discount the vast northern region that is too cold for most people.

    I remember joking/not-joking that One Billion Canadians could even work – they’d all fit into Ontario Province at a population density lower than Phoenix, Arizona.

  4. Gravatar of RAD RAD
    4. April 2023 at 09:42

    Scott, I don’t hear about power line NIMBYs in Canada, probably because the lines cross mostly empty land for the remote northern hydro sites or new lines follow existing right of ways. I hear about NIMBY opposition to the Ontario Pumped Storage Project in Meaford (cottage country along the shores of Georgian Bay).

    We’ll see what happens when new nuclear SMRs get sited beyond the existing CANDU stations and closer to demand.

  5. Gravatar of Mark Z Mark Z
    4. April 2023 at 15:02

    I expect collapsing fertility rates and economic convergence of developing countries with rich countries will cause immigration rates to decline over the next few decades, so Canada won’t get anywhere near 100m. There’s also going to be a lot more competition for young immigrants than there used to be: as more and more countries start to face demographic collapse, some of them will open up to immigration to stave off population decline, like Germany has, so the handful of rich western countries that were historically the dominant destination for immigrants may not be so be so anymore.

  6. Gravatar of David S David S
    4. April 2023 at 15:11

    Canada has always puzzled me. For quite some time I was under the impression that Vancouver existed as money laundering scheme based on the construction of low quality high rises. I might be wrong about that. A few years ago I had a student from Toronto who described the housing market there as just as bad as most of the U.S.
    They do seem to have better immigration policies.

    Only one thing is sure. Mr. Lahey is a drunk and always will be.

  7. Gravatar of Lizard Man Lizard Man
    4. April 2023 at 17:00

    Does Canada have local control over building, or is it done at the Provincial level? Seems like it should be easier to move the needle if the regulatory regime is at the provincial level.

  8. Gravatar of David S David S
    5. April 2023 at 06:16

    Lizard Man that’s a good question. My attempts to find a clear answer with some shallow Google searching only left me more confused. Canada seems to have a national housing policy that dates from 1985 and that there was a recent law passed to ban foreign investor sales.

  9. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    5. April 2023 at 08:21

    Mark, I disagree. There will be plenty of potential immigrants to Canada for many, many decades, particularly from Asia. The US still receives immigrants from places like South Korea.

  10. Gravatar of N.K Anton N.K Anton
    5. April 2023 at 14:33

    In Canada, local powers only get their ‘jurisdiction’ from provincial powers (Canada’s system of federalism is often called court-vs-court with strong executive powers at both subnational and federal level).

    However, in practice, like in the US, there are major local control and veto power that NIMBYs – like our otherwise esteemed Atwood – use to impede new housing often for the same reasons as liberal US cities. Jane Jacobs after all did spend time in Toronto 😉

    In theory, provinces could ram down changes regarding zoning but it would be political suicide.

    However, both ON and BC governments (where housing issues are most extreme) have made recent efforts to stack the cards against local government and make development easier. We shall see if it actually makes a difference at the local level.

  11. Gravatar of Sara Sara
    5. April 2023 at 19:21

    This is just more bizarre Sumner logic.

    You don’t need a massive population to achieve massive wealth. In fact, population size can be a detriment to wealth. The Philippines, for example, continues to have very low wages because it has 100M people in a tiny area the size of Idaho, and it doesn’t have enough jobs; this is supply and demand 101. You should have learned that a long time ago; if you had, you wouldn’t be calling for 10’s of millions of “Chinese engineers” to be immediately given citizenship, or for open borders.

    China will see lower growth, but an increase in wages, precisely because it’s population is beginning to fall. You, however, want Canada to accept all of these surplus workers so their salaries continually plummet.

    It’s grotesque.

    Canadians have done just fine without your meddling. I assure you, the country has global weight because it has the third largest supply of proven oil reserves, and the largest landmass outside Russia. They don’t need your advice, which will simply lower their real wages.

    You are clearly suffering from some deep seated hatred towards western people, and their higher salaries. Although, I’m not surprised because that’s the globalist framework.

    Robert F Kennedy Jr is already being attacked by Sumner’s globalist thugs. The totalitarians and biopharma gangsters are using the same old playbook: he’s a quack; he’s not “a real Kennedy”, etc, etc. They will go after him the same way they went after Trump, and with the same vitriol. Why? Because he’s a populist; because he cares about the people in this country. And that audacity to care has the globalist Sumner machine firing propaganda this morning.

  12. Gravatar of Ricardo Ricardo
    6. April 2023 at 03:34

    Yep, the globalists are panicking at Trump and Robert.

    ABC, the puppet of the “trusted news initiative” just blurred out Trumps donation number on the lectern, and viciously attacked RFK jr within minutes of his speech. The first case is election interference. The second is desperate propaganda.

    They will continue pumping it out until it’s so deafening that it will require billions just to get a message through it.

    This is indeed the Marxist playbook. I personally saw this in Cuba. Their social justice infantry is definitely on the move and coordinating at the highest levels of industry and governance. I wouldn’t be surprised if they shot RFK jr. I mean, he’s probably the most powerful weapon against the Globalist machine because the name Kennedy is strong. They’ve got to make an example of him, like they did with Trump.

    The one good thing is that Elon is fighting back. And he’s got the resources to take some of these thugs on, or at least delay their advances.

  13. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    6. April 2023 at 08:35

    More evidence that Sara and Ricardo are the same person (or Russian robot). They both mention RFK junior in a post on Canada’s population growth.

  14. Gravatar of anon/portly anon/portly
    6. April 2023 at 10:43

    “ABC, the puppet of the “trusted news initiative” just blurred out Trumps donation number on the lectern….”

    And blurring out the donation number is to attack the heart of the heart of Trumpism.

    Along these lines, I thought this Trump/Hannity exchange was really interesting:


    The quote this guy adduces isn’t the good one, this is the good one:

    “Did you know that they ended up paying Richard Nixon I think eighteen million dollars for what he had.”

    Referring to this:


    Despite the change in the law (Presidential Records Act was 1978), I can’t help wondering if Trump somehow thought he was going to get a real chunk of cash someday – the puzzle Yglesias alluded to in this tweet is maybe solved?


  15. Gravatar of Edward Edward
    6. April 2023 at 21:45

    I agree.

    Your fascination with population sizes, and ethnicity, is super creepy.

    Your comments about 10 Million chinese engineers coming to America (only Chinese) a few months back was quite odd. Why not Indians? Why not Nigerians? Why not choose engineers born in America?

    Why only Chinese? And why so many?

    And would you also like 10M Chinese engineers to move to Canada?

    Do you realize that real incomes in canada have fallen over the last thirty years, while the real incomes in asia have tripled?

    It doesnt appear your massive immigration strategy, coupled with your daily musings over population and ethnicity, have done much good to improve the standard of living in America. Although, you have succeeded at making totalitarian countries better off at our expense.

  16. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    7. April 2023 at 07:00

    Edward, You said:

    “Why not Indians? Why not Nigerians?”

    Good point, bring them all.

Leave a Reply