CANADIAN BRAIN DRAIN (Articlel from Reuters)

Graham Dellaire dellaire at ODYSSEE.NET
Wed Mar 25 17:39:50 EST 1998

FEATURE-Taxes, low funding dull Canada scientific cutting edge

            By Gilbert Le Gras
            TORONTO (Reuters) - Ask any expatriate scientist, engineer
or doctor why a growing number of Canada's best and brightest
emigrate and you are likely to get this answer: ``I couldn't get
the job I wanted in Canada at the pay I wanted.''
            So said Winnipeg-born Todd Corbet, a software control
engineer with Cummins Engines Co. of Columbus, Indiana, who
earned two engineering degrees in Canada before his job search
took him to Volvo in Sweden and then to Cummins.
            Limited opportunities, high taxes and noncompetitive pay are
pushing more of Canada's brightest abroad. Companies, economists
and others are worried the lure of better pay and lower taxes
coupled with deep cuts in research funding could lay waste to
Canada's research community and seriously impair corporate
growth during the country's current economic boom.
            The brain drain has already cost the country a Nobel prize
winner and scores of other scientists and high technology
workers. Last year, Microsoft hired a third of the computer
science graduates at Ontario's University of Waterloo.
            ``The brain drain is primarily from the high tech market.
Younger people are saying they're not going to be martyrs to a
lost cause of a 50 percent tax rate,'' said Minto Roy of
recruiter Bernard Haldane Associates' Ottawa office.
            ``There's lower taxes, better weather (in the United States)
and with free trade there's an ease in getting work permits,''
Roy said, referring to the NAFTA trade agreement.
            The number of Canadian emigrants to the U.S. soared 25
percent in 1995 to 18,093 -- the last full year of available
data -- from 14,511 when free trade was signed into law in 1988,
Statistics Canada figures show.
            Canadians are increasingly alarmed by the flight of talent
from a country that boasts the discovery of insulin and ground-
breaking research into subatomic physics and nuclear power. 
Many point to the government's cancellation four decades ago of
the then state-of-the-art Avro Arrow fighter jet as the genesis
of Canadian researchers' migration abroad.
            ``If you lowered taxes, some potential migrants would choose
to stay even with better professional opportunities and pay
abroad,'' former federal finance critic Herbert Grubel wrote in
a recent open letter to Canada's finance minister.
            Today, Canadian scientists such as Noble Prize-winner
Michael Smith are among the emigrants. Smith, who won the prize
for his research on methods for altering genes, was lured to
Seattle from Vancouver by the opportunity to establish a company
to develop that technology.
            Montreal-born vascular surgeon Jacob Lustgarten said he had
to move his family to Portland, Oregon, just so he could work in
his chosen field.
            ``A lot of Canadians might think I fled Canada, but there
just weren't any opportunities and hospitals were closing,''  he
said. ``There are no empty jobs for surgeons in Canadian
            Haldane's Roy said health care cuts in Canada and more
generous health coverage now offered by U.S. employers further
eroded researchers' ties to Canada after grants began to
drop.''They're not just going to the U.S., they're looking at
Europe and Asia,'' Roy added.
            Canada's crusade against the deficit slashed 25 percent of
funds given to its three main research councils since 1994. Now
the government spends C$8 per capita on research funding and
plans to increase that incrementally to C$9.86 by the turn of
the century, said Mark Poznansky, head of the John P. Robarts
Research Institute in London, Ontario.
            The United States spends eight times as much on research
grants at C$66 per capita and will spend closer to nine times
more by the new millennium at C$86.30, Poznansky, president of
Canada's only private medical research institute, said.
            ``There's a huge discrepancy and it's only getting larger,''
he said. ``It'll make it harder to lure Canadians back and keep
Canadians here.''

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