Notes for an address by
The Honourable Lynne Yelich
Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification
Check Against Delivery
Thank you, Dr. Gupta [Arvind].
Good morning ladies and gentlemen.
Thank you, Mitacs, for the invitation. And, congratulations for hosting this great event!
This morning you have had many valuable discussions on issues that range from perceptions of Canada from abroad to attracting top talent.
These are issues close to my heart.
I come from the small community of Kenaston, Saskatchewan.
It is a town that, at the turn of the last century, became the largest Croatian-Canadian farming settlement in Canada.
We are a community born and raised with a culture of strong work ethic and personal responsibility.
It is a town rooted in the belief that Canada means opportunity.
In fact, we have a saying in Kenaston: "Croatia gave me the strength, Canada the opportunity."
I strongly believe that we are all drawn to Canada for this great country’s ideals: for our stable economy, freedom, and a society built on the rule of law. For the promise of a better life for our children.
We are also a country at the forefront of education, scientific advancement and innovation.
For all of these reasons, each year we are seeing more and more students coming to Canada to further their education. To seek opportunities and to get a head start in life.
In just the last four years alone the number of temporary foreign students has grown almost 25 percent to over 98,000 students.
I am especially pleased that many of these students are attending institutions in Western Canada.
Since assuming my role as Minister for Western Economic Diversification in 2008, I have seen, firsthand, how western ingenuity and determination are transforming the economic landscape in every corner of Western Canada.
Anyone who believes the western Canadian economy is limited to grain fields, oil wells and forests is underestimating the depth and breadth of economic activity taking place across the West today.
Our Government understands that science, technology, and innovation are truly the key to helping us build a stronger and more competitive Canadian economy.
They enable Canadian industries to keep up with the newest technological advances, while strengthening our international competitiveness.
And they result in the creation of high-quality, knowledge-intensive jobs that give Canadians the means to achieve a higher standard of living and a better quality of life.
This brings me to why I am ultimately here today...
I am pleased to announce that the Harper Government, through Western Economic Diversification Canada, is investing over $8.7 million for Mitacs to deliver three internship programs: Globalink, Accelerate and Elevate.
Introduced in 2009 by Mitacs, the Globalink program initially allowed 15 students from India to undertake science-related internships in B.C.Since then, the Globalink program has placed more than 300 students from India, China and Brazil in universities across Canada.
Needless to say, the program was a resounding success.
For this reason, with our help, Mitacs is expanding the Globalink internship program to continue recruiting international students to work on leading projects for western Canadian universities.
Key components of the program will be focused on exposing students to local companies and sectors through site visits, workshops and industry events.
In addition to the Globalink program, the Accelerate and Elevate programs will enable interns to work on the commercialization of new products, technologies and services, while enhancing new business processes and increase competitiveness.
The Accelerate program helps support Canadian innovation and involves four-month applied research internships for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows.
The Elevate program takes a novel approach in retaining young post doctoral holders (PhDs) within Canada by training them to be innovation leaders.
Over the next two and a half years, these Mitacs programs are expected to deliver more than 900 internships across Western Canada.
This investment will help us strengthen international linkages and attract students – like those here today – to Canadian universities for graduate and post-graduate studies.
This retention will help us address Canada’s anticipated shortage of sciences graduates and help keep us on the leading-edge of scientific discovery.
By working with industry and post-secondary institutions, we can enhance our workforce, our business productivity and our international competitiveness.
This is truly a win-win situation for all of us.
Canada’s prosperity depends on the skills of its workforce and, as seen here today, our Government is committed to ensuring we build our talent pool and industries so that Canada continues to succeed in the global marketplace.
Our Government’s first priority is creating jobs, economic growth and long-term prosperity.
And initiatives like this are setting us on the right path.
Together we are all working to build a stronger West for a stronger Canada.