Almost. Canada’s graduation rate of doctoral students is strikingly low compared with its performance on other measures of education completion (high school, college, and university) and compared with its peers. Canada ranks in second to last place.
This would appear to be a structural issue for Canada, as it consistently produces proportionately fewer PhDs than comparator countries. Despite the importance of PhD graduates to innovation, Canada's private sector does not provide strong enough incentives for students to strive for advanced science and technology skills and for business management skills. Compared to firms in the U.S., Canadian firms in most industries hire fewer PhD graduates and pay them less; this may be one reason why there are fewer students pursuing doctoral studies in Canada.2
A recent OECD report on Canada’s education performance noted that the poor ranking on PhD skills “may reflect in part low demand for advanced skills in the labour market.”3 As evidence, the report cites a survey of over 1,000 Canadian R&D-performing firms that revealed that only 18 per cent of those firms had PhD holders working as R&D employees.4
Furthermore, Canada's education system simply does not stimulate enough students to complete post-graduate degrees, especially in the science and technical disciplines that underpin R&D-based innovation, because funding is too widely dispersed among an expanding number of universities. While Canada has an above-average rate of high-school, college, and university completion—which testifies to the effectiveness of the education system for most participants—it does not work as well for the more educated and innovative people at the high-end of the spectrum. Consequently, Canada has been able to fund only a handful of world-class research universities that attract talented people to study in Canada at the doctoral level.