Ontario graduates who leave for US told to ‘reimburse taxpayers’

CEO lobby group in Canada says government should introduce policies to retain talented graduates

June 28, 2016
Silicon Valley
Source: iStock

A group of company chief executives in Canada is calling for graduates from Ontario universities that immediately leave for jobs in the US to reimburse taxpayers for their subsidised tuition.

Members of the newly formed lobby group Council of Canadian Innovators (CCI) said that the government must implement policies to retain talented graduates in Canada and prevent Ontarians paying to educate Silicon Valley employees, according to The Globe and Mail.

They added that high-tech firms in Canada struggle to compete with high salaries and workplace perks at equivalent companies in California, New York and Boston.

According to Statistics Canada, average undergraduate tuition fees in Ontario are $7,868 (£4,510) – the highest level in Canada. However, Ontario’s provincial government said that it expects to hand out $1.3 billion in student grants in 2017, the first year students will be eligible for the money.

Benjamin Bergen, CCI’s executive director, said: “We must look at Ontario’s heavily subsidised tuition as not just a carrot but also a stick, in critical subjects such as computer engineering.

“We should examine if an Ontario graduate leaves for Silicon Valley, the merits of reclaiming our collective investment in their education and repurposing these funds to make Canadian tech salaries more competitive.”

Dan Latendre, chief executive of Igloo Software, added that student grants should not be based on family income but on benchmarks, such as whether the student maintains certain grades and stays in Canada for five years after graduation.

However, Melissa Di Costanzo, an Ontario government spokeswoman, said that Ontario students who work out of the province or the country “help spread the word about our excellent postsecondary institutions and the strong quality of life we share in Ontario”.

"And, when graduates travel to places like Silicon Valley, they enhance their skills, which they will transfer back to their home location as they return,” she said.

ellie.bothwell@tesglobal.com

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