If you were Prime Minister of Canada, what would you do? If your answer includes the value of Canadian youth staying in Canada, improving the Employment Insurance Program and changing business models to encourage entrepreneur-style business, then you may already be the winner of $10,000.
Such is the case for Steve McIlvenna, a 34-year-old Ind-ustrial Design graduate student at the University of Calgary. In August, McIlvenna became a finalist in the As Prime Minister awards, handed out by the Magna for Canada Scholarship Fund. After writing an essay outlining how he would maintain or improve the standard of living in this country, McIlvenna was a few thousand dollars richer and on his way to Ottawa with the possibility of doubling his scholarship.
"Basically, I like to keep a wider view of what's happening," McIlvenna said. "This came along as a forum for me to do that. If they're going to ask a question, I'm going to try and answer that."
McIlvenna focused on a few different areas, from employment insurance to business management, but placed youth employment on the top of his list.
"I covered a few different areas," McIlvenna recalled. "One of the main areas was that the most important resource is young Canadian minds and the fact that we need them to understand they can have value in Canada on their own terms."
According to McIlvenna, students leaving Canada to seek employment elsewhere either don't want the current opportunities in Canada or don't know about them. One way to address this, he said, is for professional counselors to help students make important career choices.
"I think you have to look at why people leave Canada," he said. "I think a lot of the time it's just money, and other times it's opportunities they feel they can't get in Canada."
McIlvenna also wanted improvements to the Employment Insurance Program that would see recipients supplied with money reflecting their contribution, and funds that would allow adult students to return to school full time. Also important to McIlvenna's essay were both change to the popular corporate business model and government accountability with regards to the tax system.
"Right now, we file our taxes. Why can't we send input with our filing?" asked McIlvenna. "It could be a performance report on the government and comment on what programs people want and ones that are already in place."
The next step for McIlvenna is a trip to Ottawa with the ten other finalists. The winner will walk away with another $10,000 and meet the Prime Minister, some-thing McIlvenna is looking forward to.
"There's a lot of scope here. It was fun to meet the other students in Toronto, exchanging ideas."