Ontario currently subsidizes tuition at the expensive of taxpayers. But many students flee for the US upon graduating to earn more money working for bigger firms in Silicon Valley. Is this fair? Some say no.
A group of high-tech CEOs says university graduates who immediately leave for jobs in the United States after taking advantage of Ontario’s subsidized tuition should have to reimburse taxpayers for their education. There should be consequences for grads leaving the country – especially as the provincial government is investing $1.3-billion in the new Ontario Student Grant, making tuition more affordable.
These CEOs are part of the Council of Canadian Innovators, a newly formed lobby group founded by Jim Balsillie, the former co-CEO of BlackBerry maker Research In Motion.
“We must look at Ontario’s heavily subsidized tuition as not just a carrot but also a stick, in critical subjects such as computer engineering,” Benjamin Bergen, CCI’s executive director, told the Globe. “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.”
In Silicon Valley, software engineers can earn double the money for the same job in Canada. Plus, they get to work for world-class giants like Facebook, Apple, and Google.
But there not be as many Canadians in the Valley as everyone thinks. An oft-cited number is that a staggering 350,000 Canadians live in the Valley—1% of the country’s population choosing America’s tech hub over their home nation. But according to Dan Munro, a principal research associate in public policy at the Conference Board of Canada, the real figure is closer to 25,000. Is that a problem big enough to solve?