The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a proposed economic agreement between the countries of Canada, the United States, Japan, Mexico, Singapore, Brunei, New Zealand, Chile, Australia, Peru, Vietnam, and Malaysia. The deal is a product of years of secret negotiations between governments under the advice of corporate lobbyists. The text of the agreement has only just been released. The public has never been consulted.
The Confederation of Canadian Unions has serious concerns over several provisions of the deal and the underlying philosophy behind the agreement’s construction. Going even father than its predecessor, NAFTA, the TPP seems to be less about free trade and a lot more about giving corporations the right to lower labour standards across borders and exempting multinationals from the rule of law by giving them the right to sue governments for policies that reduce corporate profits.
Even the Globe and Mail has recently published an article claiming that the TPP is not about trade but about changing the economic rules to benefit multinational corporations.
We are concerned that the TPP will negatively affect workers’ rights, stifle democracy, and increase income inequality in Canada in the following ways:
1) The Loss of Good Manufacturing Jobs
Economist Jim Stanford predicts a loss of 25,000 auto sector jobs alone as a result of the TPP.
2) Increased Medical Costs
Due to provisions in the TPP, the cost of prescription drugs will raise significantly. Canadians will feel this all-the-more because of our lack of a national pharamacare plan.
3) An Increase in Temporary Foreign Workers
Signatory countries to the TPP will be able to bring foreign workers into Canada to work. It is unclear what limits or labour standards will apply to this. Migrant workers have long been mistreated and denied economic mobility and effective labour protections in Canada. The CCU is concerned these labour rights abuses would be compounded by the TPP. For more information on temporary foreign workers, read the CCU’s statements and recommendations on migrant workers in Canada.
4) Increased Education Costs
The twenty year extension on copyrighted material has the potential to drive up education costs by hundreds of millions of dollars over the long run.
5) Invasions of Online Privacy
TPP provisions will force internet service providers to spy on Canadians searching for copyright infringement.
6) Gives Rights to Corporations that Override the Democratic Rule of Law
The Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions of the TPP allow corporations to sue governments in secret arbitrations if the government passes any law or regulation that affects their profits. This means governments can be sued for enacting laws or regulations in the areas of environmental protection, labour standards, and social programs, among many others.
The Confederation of Canadian Unions calls for a full and democratic public consultation and debate on the effects of the TPP on democracy, economic equality and workers’ rights. And the CCU unreservedly opposes the ISDS provisions contained in the agreement.