Ontario budget announcement might have been a lackluster affair,
provincial finance minister Dwight Duncan had folks in the financial
industry cheering the next day.
A new initiative announced
separately from the budget will allocate $4 million over three years
to create a Centre of Excellence for Education in Financial
The centre is expected to be
established later this year and is meant to "facilitate the export of
Ontario financial educational services," says the Ontario Ministry of
"Financial services and professional
business services are major drivers of Ontario's knowledge economy,"
says Duncan. "We believe the Centre of Excellence will help secure our
talent advantage and create a global hub for financial services
education and training."
The Toronto Financial Services
Alliance, which is working with the Ontario government to create the
centre, says the new project will "harness" Ontario's international
reputation in the financial services industry and "leverage [these
strengths] in order to attract, develop and retain the best and
brightest talent for the sector."
While no one's saying the centre is bad
news for the industry, the details about what exactly the $4 million is
going to are murky. Brian Smith, a spokesperson for the TFSA, says the
fine print is still being worked out and there won't be any final
details until after the summer, at the earliest.
Brian Leader, vice-president of
learning for the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario, is eager
to help out as the institute already has educational centres on
university campuses and international connections it calls on for
However, ICAO hasn't been approached
yet, and, says Leader, "we don't have a lot of details of what it's
going to be."
Smith explains that the centre will act
like a hub between Ontario's universities to coordinate existing
financial services programs.
"We are going to try to work with [the
universities] to create a virtual network to identify gaps, if there are
any, and to try to work more closely with the industry," says Smith.
Because of its ties to university
education, people won't be able to take courses directly from the
centre. Instead, they'll likely be able to find out which campuses offer
The centre will also serve as a
marketing tool in Canada and abroad, pushing the merits of Toronto's
financial community. Smith explains that Toronto already has a
high-quality talent pool, but with more top-level students taking
Canadian courses, the province's financial industry could become that
"We want to take that advantage that we
already have and raise the bar," says Smith. "We'd market our
capabilities internationally and throughout Canada in order to attract
the best and the brightest to come and study in Toronto, and that will
enhance the quality of the candidate pool we have already, and we can
With a few million dollars designated
to the centre, the TFSA isn't worried about getting it off the ground.
Long term, however, the organization will have to find money from the
private sector to keep it funded.
"I think you would have to describe
this as seed money because it's certainly going to allow us to get it
off the ground and begin the work we need to do," says Smith. "I don't
know whether it will be enough in the long run to be sustained, but it's
certainly going to let us get out there and show what we can do."
Filed by Bryan Borzykowski,