Just over a year ago, I wrote an opinion piece about the federal government’s “innovation strategy” and its impact on the post-secondary education sector. In the piece, I argue that the strategy has resulted in significant funding increases for university R&D. But I also argue in the piece that the strategy creates winners and losers–i.e. a “world class” doctoral student might get a $50,000/yr. scholarship, while student debt for most university students has increased very substantially in Canada since the mid-1990s.
Yesterday’s Globe and Mail features an article that I believe further highlights the inequities in this strategy. I think it also calls into question whether Canadian taxpayers are in fact getting bang for their buck.
On the issue of equity, the Globe and Mail article tells the story of Anand Agarawala, a University of Calgary student who benefited from a $20,000 university fellowship for assistance in developing his business, which he’s just sold to Google for a cool $30 million. I’m happy for Mr. Agarawala’s success, and I’m guessing that our taxation system will easily recoup the $20,000 and then some in light of the recent deal. But try telling that to a student working three jobs in order to pay record tuition levels in Ontario.
The Globe and Mail article also features the following excerpt:
“About 12 per cent of 2005 Canadian PhD graduates were living in the U.S. by 2007, and 21 per cent intended to leave Canada, according to a recent Statistics Canada study. So-called knowledge workers tend to be mobile, and some, like Mr. Agarawala, will always move away.”
In light of this phenomenon (and the apparent “leakage” that it creates), I wonder if the federal government’s current innovation strategy is a wise use of tax dollars.
I think I’d prefer to see innovation funding directed towards the development of the kind of sectoral development policy advocated in the CCPA’s Alternative Federal Budget; that kind of “innovation” policy would have a clear focus on creating well-paying, secure jobs in Canada, rather than on turning our computer science students into Silicon Valley superstars.
- Crowley’s Red Hot Labour Market (April 22nd, 2013)
- Closing the Loop: Zero Waste, GHG Emissions and Green Jobs in BC (March 28th, 2013)
- Back to Balance in Nova Scotia (March 25th, 2013)
- EI: It’s all in the details (February 19th, 2013)
- Canadians Giving Up on the World of Work (February 8th, 2013)