@ Issue Paper No. 1 – Postsecondary Education Attainment and Participation in Ontario


The Ontario government is developing a new postsecondary education strategy with the aim of ensuring that the province is able to compete and prosper in a global, knowledgebased economy. Postsecondary education (PSE) is a key component of this strategy. This pride of place is appropriate because higher education is the primary means whereby societies add to their stock of human capital; success in the new economy will be directly related to the available supply of human capital1. Will Ontario have the human capital it needs to compete in the new economy? Most of the human capital available to the province over the next decade is already in place, represented by the educational attainment of the current population. The remaining supply will come through the PSE achievements of new entrants to the labour force2. This increase in the labour force, in turn, depends upon both the proportion of Ontario secondary school students who complete one or more PSE programs and the education profiles of those who settle in the province from other countries as well as from other provinces and territories.

Ken Norrie is currently the Vice-President, Research for the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario. Most recently he served as provost and vice president, academic at McMaster University, where he is also professor of economics. He has held various academic postings across Canada including the University of Alberta as professor and associate dean of arts (social sciences), chair of the economics depart¬ment and dean of arts.

Dr. Norrie was also a visiting associate professor at Queen’s University, and was seconded to the Royal Commission on the Economic Union and Development Prospects for Canada (the Macdonald Commission).Dr. Norrie was also Clifford Clark Visiting Economist at the Department of Finance, Government of Canada, and editor of Canadian Public Policy/Analyse de Politique between 1986 and 1990, and has served on the editorial boards of Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Journal of Regional Science, Prairie Forum and National History. Dr. Norrie earned an Honours degree in econom¬ics from the University of Saskatchewan in 1967, an M.Phil. from Yale University in 1969 and a Ph.D. from Yale in 1971.

​Sylvia Lin is a Research Analyst with the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario, and she came to HEQCO after graduating from McMaster University with a master’s degree in Economics. She also has a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism, and practiced as a journalist for several newspapers and news agencies.