TPP will undermine Canadian workers

There are provisions included in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) which will allow certain categories of workers to cross borders on a temporary basis without going through the usual immigration process.

The categories of workers include professionals and technicians and specialists.

Professionals and technicians can be hired by any Canadian employer (as long as not included in exclusion list).

Specialist designation only applies to intra-corporate transferees.

That means that Canadian corporations can bring in an unlimited number of professionals and technicians into Canada  A variety of lower skill occupations are included in Canada’s temporary entry commitments in the TPP, such as mechanics, carpenters, and other construction tradespeople.

Canada is not allowed to use labour certification tests or quotas to limit the inflow of foreign workers in any category:

Canadian companies will bring in these foreign temporary workers even if Canadian workers with proper qualifications are available to be hired and where the local unemployment rate is very high.

Companies will also be able bring in an unlimited number of specialists. In the TPP, Canada defines a specialist as:

an employee possessing specialized knowledge of the company’s products or services and their application in international markets, or an advanced level of expertise or knowledge of the company’s processes and procedures.

This definition is, in practice, extremely vague which means any worker may legitimately qualify as specialists.

It also means that the Canadian government will not be able to pass any labor policies to correct these problems while the trade agreement is in effect. It will be very difficult to change terms of the TPP as it will require complicated negotiations by all twelve countries included in the trade agreement.

It is true that similar labor mobility clauses already exist within NAFTA. However, Canadians working in certain industries and job classifications should be concerned that additional job titles have been added to list of occupations that can enter Canada under the TPP.

Each country has a slightly different list. To see lists for each country, read original text of TPP Chapter 12.

This is list for Mexico. These are job titles that are not included in NAFTA:

Civil Engineering Technologists and Technicians
Mechanical Engineering Technologists and Technicians
Industrial Engineering Technologists and Technicians
Construction Inspectors and Estimators
Engineering Inspectors, Testers and Regulatory Officers
Contractors and Supervisors in the following:
 Electrical Trades and Telecommunications Occupations
 Heavy Construction Equipment Crews
 Other Construction Trades
 Installers, repairers, and servicers
Electrical and Electronics Engineering Technologists and Technicians
Industrial Instrument Technicians and Mechanics
Computer and Information Systems Technicians

The specialist designation also exist in NAFTA but the wording describing specialization is much more stringent.

Canada has not made any temporary entry commitments for professionals or technicians from the United States. That means no additional job classifications have been added to labor mobility agreement Canada has with United States under NAFTA.

In addition, Canada has not made any temporary entry commitments for professionals or technicians from New Zealand, Singapore, or Vietnam.

All indented text is quotation from original document of chapter 12 of the TPP which deals with this topic.

Further information cited in this blog comes from study done by the Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives.

This is just one of many serious concerns about the TPP. Read my other blog entries about other concerns.


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