After 11 years of bringing you local reporting, the team behind the Vancouver Observer has moved on to Canada's National Observer. You can follow Vancouver culture reporting over there from now on. Thank you for all your support over the years!

Tories claim Canada-Europe free trade deal will boost Canadian jobs. Unions disagree.

With NDP, Liberals and civil society groups criticizing Canada's secretive CETA agreement, VO continues our series on the pact's impact on Canadians' water, democracy, jobs and health. Part III examines the deal's employment claims.

(Page 2 of 3)

“It would also grow our economy by $12 billion or the equivalent of 80,000 new Canadian jobs,” Fast said at an event. “Translated, that would equal somewhere in the order of $1,000 in the pocket of every family in the country.

“Workers in every region of Canada – in our aerospace, aluminum, wood products, transportation, fish and seafood, and renewable energy sectors to name just a few – are counting on us to gain increased access to the European market.”

150,000 Canadian jobs would be lost to Europe: CCPA

Critics, however, note that Fast spoke of “the equivalent” of 80,000 jobs – it's an easy enough catchphrase to repeat, but will CETA actually create any new jobs in Canada?

“I just don't see the job creation,” Moist said. “It's more of a wish and a prayer. I don't see it adding to jobs.”

Last year, economist Jim Stanford crunched the government's numbers in a report for the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA). According to his analysis, the predicted job gains are not only unrealistic – they may, in fact, be completely backwards.

Rather than 80,000 new jobs (or their “equivalent”), Canada would actually lose up to 150,000 under CETA, Standford argued in his detailed report Out of Equilibrium.

His reasoning is based on the fact that Canada has a substantial “bilateral trade deficit” with Europe – which means that we import far more than we export. Currently, that deficit is $15 billion in goods, and close to $4 billion in services.

The result of this unequal playing field is a net loss of employment here, Stanford writes, and that's without free trade. The hardest hit sectors from CETA, he believes, will be in machinery, chemicals, motor vehicle, and electronic equipment; only agriculture and minerals are predicted to grow, but not enough to offset the losses.

Under CETA, that trade deficit stands to increase even further as barriers and tariffs are reduced – a process of “liberalization” touted by neoliberal economists.

“Free trade with Europe will take a bad situation for Canada, marked by large deficits and lost jobs, and make it much worse,” he concluded. “There is no historical basis to conclude that free trade agreements are good for either Canadian exports, or for Canadian trade balances.

“Despite this observed failure, signing more free trade agreements seems to be the default policy response in Ottawa to Canada’s worsening global trade performance.”

With the deal on the verge of being signed on both sides of the Atlantic, the government is in no mood to have its economic forecasts called into question. Signing an increasing roster of trade liberalization ('free trade') deals around the globe is seen as an imperative to preserve Canada's economic position in the world economy.

Trade with EU will grow economy: Foreign Affairs department

“With one in five Canadian jobs dependent on trade, a trade agreement with the European Union has the potential to benefit Canada enormously,” said Rudy Husny, press secretary for the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, in emailed comments to the Vancouver Observer. “Increased trade will lead to more jobs, which in turn will create economic growth for Canadian workers and their families.”

Beyond the emailed statements – reflecting the government's repeated assertions about job creation and economic growth – DFAIT turned down repeated requests for phone or in-person interviews.

More in Politics

Gitxsan leaders join BC First Nations to vote for Anyone But Clark (ABC)

Two Gitxsan house groups, Gwininitxw and Luutkudziiwus urge voting that will empower First Nations, support communities, environment, and economic well-being.

B.C. Premier defends Bill 20 amendments

British Columbia Premier Christy Clark said Tuesday that a controversial provision in Bill 20 is meant to create “a level playing field” for all the political parties. Her comments come on the heels...

Jacobs and Florida and Gehl oh my! Who really influences our local politicians?

Still undecided about who to vote for? Second guessing yourself? Who really influences and inspires those candidates who are running for a seat in Vancouver's City Hall?
Speak up about this article on Facebook or Twitter. Do this by liking Vancouver Observer on Facebook or following us @Vanobserver on Twitter. We'd love to hear from you.