The Province of Ontario has recently announced the Ontario Trillium Scholarships, which are designed to attract international talent to Ontario universities. Representatives from the South Ontario tech sector are praising the initiative, and believe it will pay dividends for their field.
The Trillium program will be doling out 75 scholarships each worth $40,000 to international doctoral students who plan to study in Ontario.
"Access to talent is the number one challenge facing tech companies in Waterloo Region, and across Ontario," said Iain Klugman, president and CEO of Communitech, a Waterloo Region technology organization. "As regions around the world ramp up efforts to compete for workers in the knowledge economy, it is essential for government and industry to coordinate our efforts and ensure that tech companies have the talent necessary to compete globally."
The Province's announcement integrates with recent federal initiatives that make it easier for foreign students to stay in Canada once their studies are completed. According to Communitech, these measures, along with the investments of private companies to fund scholarships at universities, help companies to attract foreign talent to Ontario's tech sector.
However, opposition parties in Ontario are criticizing the initiative. Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak told The Toronto Star that, “When families in Ontario today can’t afford their kids to go to college or university without piling up huge debts, to give $40,000 a year to foreign students? That’s just wrong.”
Tech company growth in Waterloo Region has remained strong over the past two years, with a 21 per cent increase in the number of tech companies and annual revenues that now top $18 billion. Waterloo Region has more than 30,000 professionals working in its tech industry, and more than 2,000 job openings at local firms.