Education and economic development

Here we go again. The executive director for the Association of Atlantic Universities wrote a guest commentary in the Telegraph-Journal this week pleading with government “to make post-secondary education the top public policy priority”.

He continues:

a major funding commitment to post-secondary education is the best and most strategic investment the federal government can make in Atlantic Canada. Educating, training and retaining more of Atlantic Canada’s best and brightest young people and preparing them for their future roles as community leaders and citizens, entrepreneurs, professionals, artists and scientists is critically important in making Atlantic Canada globally competitive.

Sorry, Mr. Halpin. Training Atlantic Canadians to go work in Ontario, Alberta, BC and increasingly the US is not the ‘best’ and ‘most strategic’ investment.

What Mr. Halpin forgets to mention is that Nova Scotia has, by far and away, the most university students per capita in all of Canada – and most likely the United States – and they have among the weakest economies in North America.

The ‘best’ and ‘most strategic’ investment right now in Atlantic Canada is to help create new industries to replace the ones that are dying. Unless we do this, we will solidify our position as the labour market incubator for Ontario and Alberta and that is not the best economic hat to wear.