Trans-Pacific Partnership expands migrant worker regime: study

OTTAWA—As parliamentary consultations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) begin, a new study from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) raises questions about the deal’s consequences for Canadian immigration policy and the Canadian labour market.

“The TPP gives employers a new pathway to hire and transfer workers across borders, even where local unemployment is high and domestic workers are available,” says Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood, a researcher at the CCPA and author of Migrant Workers and the Trans-Pacific Partnership: A regulatory impact analysis of the TPP’s temporary entry provisions.

According to the study, the TPP will prevent Canada from imposing limits on the number of foreign workers who can be brought into the country, provided they meet the criteria outlined in the deal.
“To make matters worse, workers themselves receive no mobility rights under the TPP,” says Mertins-Kirkwood. “These rules are designed to give employers more labour market flexibility, not to benefit workers in Canada or other TPP countries.”

Key findings from the study include:

  • The range of occupations covered by the TPP’s temporary entry chapter goes well beyond existing treaties, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement.
  • Once the TPP is ratified, Canada cannot go back on its commitments, even if the deal eventually causes significant problems in the Canadian labour market.
  • Unlike Canada, the United States made no commitments for temporary entry in the TPP, because Congress prohibited U.S. trade negotiators from making any changes to U.S. immigration law.

“If there are gaps in the Canadian labour market, they should be filled through permanent immigration or through greater education and skills training,” says Mertins-Kirkwood. “Opening the floodgates to more migrant labour fails to address the long-term needs of the domestic labour market and does so with negative knock-on effects for Canadian workers and migrant workers alike.”

The study is the latest in the CCPA’s ongoing research series on the TPP, What’s the Big Deal: Understanding the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Migrant Workers and the Trans-Pacific Partnership: A regulatory impact analysis of the TPP’s temporary entry provisions is available on the CCPA website.

For more information contact:
Kerri-Anne Finn,
CCPA Director of Communications
613-563-1341 x306.