[Opinion] Lack of manpower or citizens?

We can activate all recycling, and we must do so, as far as we can see in the future, Quebec society will be struggling with a chronic shortage of labor, a variation of its demographic fragility. As we know, the Quebec government and most businesses are facing severe labor shortages. Could this current shortfall herald, by tomorrow, a deficit in the number of citizens needed for a harmonious internal and external deployment, both essential to the vitality of Quebec’s social, economic, and cultural balances?

Lack of manpower, lack of citizens? The question must be asked.

It is incorrect to say that labor shortages are of the same order in Quebec as elsewhere in North America. The difference is in the population growth forecast for 2050: more than 60, 20, 9 and 5 million citizens respectively in the United States, Mexico, Canada and Ontario, compared to just over half a million in Quebec. By 2045, the population of Ontario could reach 20 million people, that of Quebec, just under 10 million.

Our neighbors and major economic partners will have reservations for the renewal and enrichment of their workforce in the public and private sectors. This will not be the case in Quebec. Should we take note without further ado, or make further progress in the analysis of our demographic future? The time has come to set up a commission of inquiry, as we have done in the past, to shed light on our future in education, health and social welfare, language policy, the relationship between Aboriginal people and certain public services, freedom of association, etc.

Know our needs

The terms of reference of this committee could include the following topics:

1.Analysis of the demographic needs of Quebec from now until the middle of the century. It would take into account the accelerated aging of its population and the continued decline of the working age population combined with the need to produce economic, ecological, social and cultural goods and services;

2. analysis of the demographic needs of the regions, of each of them, the development of which will not take place without a critical mass of citizens;

3. an assessment of the expected proportion of advanced technologies in Quebec production to ensure the maintenance, or even growth, of the activity rate in the coming decades;

4. finally, the examination of the causes of the departure, 18 months after their arrival, of the immigrants arriving in Quebec and the revision of our reception systems, including the francization offer, which must be, in quantity and quality, that of our most advanced and best-funded policies;

5. and finally, the analysis of the foreseeable effects of low, medium or high population growth.

Talking examples

If the proportion of older people (aged 65 and over) is currently 20% and adds up to 1.7 million Quebecers, it will gradually increase to 27% by 2050, to a total of 2.6 million Quebecers. What kind of manpower will we need to provide these elderly people with the home or institutional services that their situation requires?

What are the critical masses of citizens needed by 2050 for the deployment of a strong economic, social and cultural life in the regions of Quebec? Ensure that each region remains viable, dynamic and attractive.

A population policy?

At the end of the commission’s work, Quebec would have data on its future demographic situation, elements of a possible Quebec population policy. In this way, Quebec would join many European countries, in particular Germany and France, which continue this research on them.

If nothing is done to build the future in another way, we must fear the weakening of a society diminished by its demographic weakness and aging; fearing the loss of dynamism that has driven its momentum over the last half century. Throughout its contemporary history, Quebec has found, in self-research, the knowledge of best practices and concerted action, the levers of its enduring affirmation. These convergent approaches have served him well. He must revive them urgently in order to consolidate their primordial wealth, their human wealth.

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