Volume 93, Issue 79

Wednesday, March 1, 2000


Federal budget questioned

The Shot Pool Pub faces final last call

Youth unemployment changes for the better

Funds for double cohort announced

Sex and education not a perfect match

New budget targets "brain-drain"



Caught on campus

New budget targets "brain-drain"

By Mike Murphy and Paul-Mark Rendon
Gazette Staff

Monday's federal budget announcement included several spending initiatives specifically geared towards staving off the "brain-drain" of highly-skilled workers to the green pastures of the American job market. However, Western professors had differing opinions on the issue.

The budget included a decrease in the middle income tax rate from 26 to 23 per cent, as well as an increase to allow for more foreign content in Canadians' registered retirement savings plans. Moreover, several initiatives to put cash back in the pockets of income earners in a highly competitive workforce are being touted by the Ministry of Finance as a strong message to stay in Canada.

"I have never been convinced of this brain-drain thing – I reject the entire premise," said Paul Nesbitt-Larking, a political science professor.

Nesbitt-Larking said he had always believed the brain-drain could be attributed to right-winged thinkers trying to sway Canadians to move away from Canada's inherent socialist ideology.

"We do have Canadians of quality moving South, we have Americans of quality coming here," he said, explaining the notion of Canada's mental drought of highly skilled workers was the natural emigration of people elsewhere counterbalanced by the immigration of workers into Canada. "I think it's a complete myth," he said.

Still, Nesbitt-Larking said he believed Monday's budget announcement leaned more towards the side of businesses than social programs. This preference to the business end of things, Nesbitt-Larking said, could be seen as the federal government's attempt to answer critics who have harped on the need to strengthen Canada's highly-skilled workforce.

Ian Brodie, assistant professor of political science, said he was skeptical the budget would be appealing to those whom the brain drain was supposed to be drawing away.

"Insofar as it reduces taxes for middle-class income earners, it may help, but it doesn't do much for the over $85,000 bracket and those are the entrepreneurs," he reasoned.

Associate professor of economics John Palmer echoed Brodie's thoughts. "The tax cuts were targeted to lower and middle-class income individuals, whereas the brain drain seems to pertain more to high income brackets," he said.

"This budget seems to be directed at the general burden of Canadian tax-payers and not so much the brain drain," he added.

Brodie also pointed out imminent U.S. tax reduction could force Canada to slash taxes with abandon if they want to keep up the pace.

"The big threat here is that after the U.S. presidential election it looks like they'll be getting sizable tax cuts," Brodie commented. "So we're going to be playing catch up with them."

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