Skip to content

Unifor links TPP and the struggle for immigration status for all workers

Jerry Dias, Maude Barlow and Pam Palmater at the Council of Canadians annual conference, Oct. 2015.

The Council of Canadians stands in solidarity with Unifor in its opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

Unifor national president Jerry Dias has stated, “The deal would make it easier for companies from TPP countries to bring in potentially unlimited numbers of temporary foreign workers without worrying about proper certifications or wage floors established for other such workers. And temporary foreign workers would continue to be blocked from becoming full citizens. Any worker coming to Canada for a job should have the right to apply for full citizenship. If they are good enough to work here, they are good enough to become citizens.”

In Oct. 2015, the Globe and Mail reported, “The deal, like Canada’s existing trade pacts, contains provisions that would make it easier for companies from TPP countries to bring temporary foreign workers to their operations in Canada. Employers from some of those countries would also be exempt from a wage floor Ottawa established in 2014 to ensure foreign workers on intracompany transfers are paid the prevailing wage for their occupation.”

The Trans-Pacific Partnership has a mixture of countries within it including G7 ‘major advanced economies’ (the United States, Canada and Japan), G20 ‘major economies’ (Australia and Mexico), relatively smaller economies (New Zealand and Singapore) and ‘developing economies’ (Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, Peru and Vietnam).

In 2006 there were 54,000 temporary foreign worker program active permits in Canada, by 2014 that number had grown to 95,100. Foreign workers resident in Canada under the international mobility program grew from 83,500 in 2006 to 259,500 in 2014. Armine Yalnizyan, the senior economist at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, has commented, “We have more than tripled our intake of foreign workers, but two-thirds of these workers cannot stay.”

The Council of Canadians has been promoting the Leap Manifesto. That manifesto has 15 demands including, “We demand immigration status and full protection for all workers. Canadians can begin to rebalance the scales of climate justice by welcoming refugees and migrants seeking safety and a better life.”

The Unifor national president also highlights in this Huffington Post op-ed, “A Unifor study last fall found that weakened regional content rules threaten 20,000 well-paying jobs in Canada’s auto sector alone. Another study, cited by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, pegged the total jobs risk at 58,000. …As well, there are concerns about the impact of tighter patent laws on drug prices, the TPP’s anti-democratic investor-state dispute mechanisms, major concessions on dairy and poultry marketing boards and many other issues that need to be explored.”

For more on our campaign to stop the TPP, please click here.

Further reading
Support Migrant Workers (Oct. 27, 2015)
Trans-Pacific Partnership would mean more temporary foreign workers (Oct. 16, 2015)