Canada-European Free Trade Agreement undermines Canadian workers

Deal will provide yet another avenue for employers to choose foreign workers over Canadians

EDMONTON – The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) signed between Canada and the European Union will disrupt the Canadian labour market by allowing European firms to bypass Canadian workers when doing business here.

“This deal will essentially create another stream of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program,” Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan said. “Documents made available today by the European Union show that the CETA will allow European companies to bring staff along with them when they set up shop in Canada. The documents also show that the deal will liberalize the Canadian energy market.”

The European Union’s announcement of the CETA shows that it will “make it easier for firms to move staff temporarily between the EU and Canada. This will make it easier for European companies to run their operations in Canada.” [Click here to link to CETA document] It also shows the CETA will allow European firms to access the Canadian market in “key sectors” such as energy. The Harper government’s announcement on the deal makes no mention of the effect on Canadian workers other than to say states the “rights of workers will be respected.”

“The Harper government’s announcement of the deal has no details whatsoever, but, judging from the European Union’s information, we can only conclude that this deal allows European firms – especially those operating in Alberta’s oil sands – to bring their own workers from overseas instead of hiring Canadians first.

And we’re not just talking about trade’s people here. We’re also talking about engineers, managers and other professional workers,” McGowan said. “It’s strange, though not unexpected, that the Harper government’s announcement heralding the deal is silent on the fact that the CETA will allow European firms to bring their own labour when doing business in Canada.”

In light of the Harper Government’s track record with guest worker programs, labour activists say that Canadians should be concerned about the labour mobility clauses in the CETA.

“The Harper government simply cannot be trusted when it comes to workers rights,” McGowan said. “They’ve fumbled the Temporary Foreign Worker Program file by only listening to the interests of businesses, not those of the workers on job sites earning a living working with their hands and backs.”

“Canadian workers should brace themselves for further displacement by workers from overseas, especially in the oil sands.”



Olav Rokne, Communications Director, Alberta Federation of Labour at 780.289.6528 (cell) or via e-mail [email protected]

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