Tory proposes $20,000 for students who stay in province

Interprovincial competition for graduates heats up

An Alberta Progressive Conservative leadership candidate says every Albertan graduate should be given $20,000 in tax credits if they live and work in the province for at least seven years after graduation, reports the Calgary Herald.

Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Manitoba and Saskatchewan all have similar schemes aimed at stopping the best and the brightest from moving to Toronto or Vancouver after their post-secondary educations are complete. Those provinces have good reasons to try and stem the brain drain. Manitoba had a net outflow of 1,000 residents in the first-quarter of 2011, according to Statistics Canad, while Saskatchewan lost 600 people and Nova Scotia shed 1,000.

But Alberta? They gained 5,300 people. Do they really need a tax credit program to keep students from jumping ship?

Ted Morton, the candidate, says they certainly do. “It’s a win-win-win,” for the province, its young people and employers, he said. The $160 million program would pay for itself through taxes paid by the students who get jobs or start businesses in the province, he added.

The Alberta Tories, who have governed uninterrupted for 30 years, are facing a challenge in the next election from the upstart Wildrose Alliance. A recent poll showed that 29 per cent of voters are leaning toward the Wildrose, compared to 34 per cent who would vote Tory. (Note: the survey of 2,400 was commissioned by the Wildrose Party itself. )