Volume 95, Issue 51

Friday, November 30, 2001
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Ivey Journal vs. Izzy Asper

Battle for Kandahar

Foot Patrol offers safety in numbers

Like Maestro Fresh Wes, Zander conducting thangs

MacIntyre discusses the 5th Estate

Is Canada getting dumber? Brain Drain debate rages on

Chapters CEO bans Hitler's Mein Kampf

News Briefs

Is Canada getting dumber? Brain Drain debate rages on

By Jessica Leeder
Gazette Staff

A recent study commissioned by an independent Montreal think-tank suggests a new resolution to the on-going brain drain debate.

Sang Tran-Quang, media relations officer for the Research Institute of Public Policy, confirmed the results of the study, which indicates Canada must invest more resources into a number of areas, including health care, if it wishes to keep Canada's brightest minds.

"In general, Canada needs to pay better attention and provide more resources to our better professors at better institutions," said Ross Finnie, an adjunct professor at Queen's University and author of The Brian Drain: Myth and Reality.

Finnie said Canadians have historically been concerned with the number of talented people leaving the country. Tax cuts for the country's "best and brightest" is often sighted as a solution, he said, but other changes are just as necessary.

"It makes more sense to restore the health system rather than change the tax system," he said. "To keep a few thousand people at home, we would have to change the structure of our country."

Finnie said he did "very little" original research in the study, but noted he tried to bring together the best available evidence to coherently present the brain drain debate.

While the number of people leaving the country is actually quite small, Finnie said policy-makers should find the disproportionate number of highly-paid Canadians heading south alarming.

Ted Frost, an assistant professor of international business at the Richard Ivey School of Business, said he educates his students on the seemingly endless debate.

"Competing institutes keep coming out with different sources of data and different interpretations of the data," he said. "We have a trend line that is positive and increasing – the amount of people moving to the United States is growing."

Frost said it is important to note that aside from exporting intellectuals, Canada is also a frequent importer of professionals.

"The debate now is not about quantity so much as quality," he said. "If you look at people coming to Canada, they are pretty well-educated. They have to meet certain criteria, to get into the country, ranging from wealth and education to personal status.

"Often the response to this is that the people coming in lack key skills, such as the capacity to speak the English language, so in this respect, the people we are losing would be more productive in our environment than the ones we gain," said Frost.

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