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By Patrick Szpak

Associate News Editor

The Manitoba provincial government wants Ryeerson grads to work in friendly Manitoba, and is offering a $25,000 tax break to attract skilled graduates.

Manitoba’s finance minster Greg Selinger said the plan is intended to combat Alberta’s booming oil economy, which is attracting skilled professionals from all over Canada.

The enticement is an extension of a plan announced in November for Manitoba students, but is now open to all Canadians and international students who move to the province this spring.

Under the plan, students who graduate after Jan. 1, 2007 are eligible. Graduates living and working in Manitoba can claim up to 60 per cent of their tuition or $2,500 per year to a maximum of $25,000 over their lifetime.

Those wanting to claim the maximum amount must stay in Manitoba for six years and remain employed. The rebates are the largest of their kind in Canada and dwarf Ontario’s tax rebates for tuition, where students can claim an indexed amount of $27 per month of study on their paid tuition. But is it enough incentive to attract graduates from across Canada?

Muneer Siddiqui, a second-year industrial engineering student from Mississauga, says Manitoba’s incentives likely won’t lure him out west. He would rather stay close to home than move west to work. “It’s about convenience — family, communication — if you know the area you’ll be more comfortable fitting in.” He said he would only consider Manitoba if he could not find work in the GTA.

Sarah Smith, a first-year urban planning student has family in Manitoba and has visited the province in the past.

She said that Manitoba would remain low on her list of places to live despite the tax incentive. “It’s Manitoba, what’s in Manitoba? It’s in the middle of nowhere.”

Smith said that even a major income difference would not make her seek work there. “I’d probably go to B.C. or stay here.” Ross Finnie, a professor of economics at Queen’s University told the Globe and Mail that tax incentives alone won’t attract recent grads.

“I don’t think [a tax credit] would be the dominant factor in most people’s decisions, but if they’re ready almost to flip a coin then it might be the thing that puts them over the top.”

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