BC FORUM News - from The Advocate, Autumn 2016
More rights for corporations at the expense of everyone else
By Hassan Yussuff, President, Canadian Labour Congress
The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) negotiated under the previous administration is a deeply flawed agreement.
Our view is the costs of the TPP outweigh the limited benefits that might arise from the deal.
A key study from Tufts University predicts workers in all 12 TPP countries would lose out because the TPP would increase income inequality. This flawed agreement is about protecting multinational corporations’ rights.
It does nothing to help workers or the environment.
The automotive sector is centrally important to Canada’s research and development, high value-added production and manufacturing exports.
In 2014, approximately 40,000 Canadians worked in motor vehicle manufacturing. And another 70,000 in parts manufacturing.
A five-year phase-out of tariffs on Canadian imports of Japanese vehicles will quickly eliminate the incentive to manufacture in Canada. Unifor has estimated the TPP could lead to the loss of 20,000 jobs in the auto sector alone.
The Dairy Sector
The Canadian dairy sector provides high-quality, locally-produced food while supporting small family farms and rural communities.
Under the TPP agreement, foreign dairy producers will be able to access an additional 3.25% of Canada’s 2016 dairy milk production.
This comes at a time when the dairy industry is already under considerable stress… 250 million litres of milk and subsequent production jobs are at risk annually.
The TPP makes unprecedented changes to Canada’s policy for the use of temporary workers.
Under the TPP there is no limit to the number of temporary workers from TPP nations that can get temporary work permits, and no ability to set economic needs tests for specific sectors.
There are currently no mechanisms to enforce fair wages and labour rights for temporary migrant workers in Canada.
This change to labour mobility policy will immediately impact workers in the Building Trades.
We have many concerns with the model of Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS).
By now, the problems with this model of dispute settlement are well-known: the unaccountable and ad hoc nature of the arbitral panels; their expansive definition of what constitutes an investment; the fact they do not operate in subsidiarity to national court systems, but above them; and the apparent lack of deference to the prerogatives of governments, or even to national jurisprudence on any given issue.
The TPP chapter on public services locks in the current level of privatization with so-called ‘ratchet’ and ‘standstill’ clauses.
This makes it more difficult for governments to introduce new public services, such as pharmacare or childcare, without subjecting themselves to an ISDS claim.
Canada already has the second highest per capita drug costs in the world. The TPP will further constrain efforts to reform prescription drug purchasing and provision in Canada.
The TPP also contains broad prohibitions on economic or environmental performance requirements such as requiring technology transfer or local sourcing to foster green industry.
Such restrictions will serve as a “chill” on governments contemplating steps required to make the transition toward a low-carbon and climate-resilient economy.
It is time to come back to more reasonable forms of investor protection.
These protections which should be subsidiary to national judicial processes, privilege state-to-state settlements, and emphasize investors’ responsibilities just as much as the protection of their assets.
We have called on the federal government to conduct its own impact analysis of the TPP and to make this analysis public.
Given the high economic and political stakes, Canadians deserve no less than a full and substantive discussion on the potential consequences of this draft agreement.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Edited from a presentation by the Canadian Labour Congress to the House of Commons Standing Committee on International Trade.
The full text is available online at canadianlabour.ca