Trans-Pacific Partnership will undermine Canada's labour market, says Alberta group

The Alberta Federation of Labour says the Trans-Pacific Partnership will allow companies to bring in foreign workers even if there are qualified Canadians to do the job.

Alberta Federation of Labour president says TPP is like the 'Temporary Foreign Worker Program on steroids'

Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour, wants the Liberal government not to ratify the Trans-Pacific Partnership. (CBC)

The Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) says the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) will allow companies to bring in foreign workers, even if there are qualified Canadians to do the job.

The TPP is a treaty amongst 12 countries to form a trading block representing roughly 40 per cent of the world's gross domestic product.

Each country has up to two years to consider ratification before making a final decision.

In a news release, the AFL says its president Gil McGowan made a presentation Tuesday to the House of Commons International Trade Committee.

McGowan believes the deal will allow employers to bring in unlimited foreign workers who could be exploited.

"As faulty as it is, the current TFW [Temporary Foreign Worker] program at least requires some evidence that the employer couldn't hire a Canadian to do the job. The TPP lets big companies bypass even those meager safeguards. The labour mobility sections of the Trans-Pacific Partnership are like the Temporary Foreign Worker Program on steroids," said McGowan.

'Creating an underclass of exploitable workers'

"This deal would fundamentally transform the Canadian labour market for the worse by creating an underclass of exploitable workers with fewer rights."

The TFW program for the fast food industry was suspended by the federal government in 2014, amid allegations some employers were abusing the program.

McGowan says Canada's labour market was distorted by the TFW.

"Just when Canadians thought the problem was being solved, it's come back in the form of this trade deal," said McGowan.

"Canadians should not be fooled into thinking 'labour mobility' is the same thing as immigration. It isn't. The TPP does nothing for migrant workers other than to make them easier to exploit.

The AFL is calling on the Liberal government not to ratify the agreement, which was negotiated by the previous Conservative government.