rabble blogs are the personal pages of some of Canada's most insightful progressive activists and commentators. All opinions belong to the writer; however, writers are expected to adhere to our guidelines. We welcome new bloggers -- contact us for details.

Behind The Numbers

Behind The Numbers's picture
Behind The Numbers delivers timely, progressive commentary on issues that affect Canadians, including the economy, poverty, inequality, climate change, budgets, taxes, public services, employment and much more. Contributors include staff and research associates from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA).The views expressed on this blog are those of the individual contributors, and do not necessarily represent the views of the CCPA. Visit the blog at Behindthenumbers.ca.

The TPP will cost Canada 58,000 jobs -- and won't grow the economy

| January 18, 2016
Image: Flickr/Joseph Morris

Like this article? rabble is reader-supported journalism. Chip in to keep stories like these coming.

Even the loudest advocates of the Trans-Pacific Partnership concede that the macroeconomic benefits for Canada will be small, as we have written before. Canada's former trade minister promised a $3.5 billion boost to the Canadian economy -- a fraction of a percent -- if the massive trade treaty goes ahead. The most optimistic forecasts, including a recent report from the World Bank, point to an increase of around one per cent to the Canadian economy by the year 2030.

Nevertheless, business groups, right wing think tanks and other TPP cheerleaders have been singing the deal's praisesdownplaying its clear harms and calling for its timely ratification. These commentators would have us believe that Canada has nothing to lose and at least something to gain from the TPP, if only we would act quickly to push it forward.

But if the economic argument for the deal was weak before, a new study from researchers at the UN and Tufts University may have finally laid the case to rest. Their analysis shows that Canada can expect a mere 0.28 per cent increase to GDP growth -- effectively zero change -- over the next ten years if the TPP is implemented. The situation is worse for the U.S. and Japanese economies, which will actually shrink under the TPP, according to the authors.

More troubling is the TPP's effect on employment. The study suggests that despite a negligible macroeconomic impact, ratifying the deal will lead to 58,000 net job losses in Canada over the next ten years. In other words, the TPP won't grow the Canadian economy but it will hurt workers, who will see their share of the economic pie shrink by 0.86 per cent under the deal.

In fact, the authors argue, the TPP will lead to "job losses and higher inequality in all participating economies" (and in many other countries that aren't even part of the deal). The net employment impact of the TPP will be millions of jobs lost. This is in part because greater capital mobility and more integrated supply chains will encourage costcutting across the globe. And when employers cut costs to compete in the world's largest free-trade zone, jobs and wages will be one of the first targets for savings.

Why don't other macroeconomic forecasts predict job losses from the TPP? Incredibly, it is because most other forecasts assume stable, full employment. TPP advocates have simply shrugged off the implications for labour when assessing the deal's likely consequences. This new study does not make the same oversight.

Trading our sovereignty for… what exactly?

The list of TPP "cons" is long: among other issues for Canada, it will increase drug costsrattle the agricultural sector and undermine Internet freedom. Most worrying of all, it will give new rights to foreign corporations to sue Canadian governments for regulations enacted in the public interest.

But if the TPP ever had a saving grace -- one item for the "pro" list -- at least it was going to grow the economy and create jobs. As the evidence mounts against even modest macroeconomic benefits, however, the "trade-offs" are looking increasingly unpalatable.

Is the TPP worth it for Canada? We say no, and we think that Canadians agree. As trade minister Chrystia Freeland contemplates signing the deal (as early as February 4), this is a message she needs to hear. A deal that costs too much and delivers too little is not a deal that Canada needs.

Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood is a CCPA trade and energy researcher. Follow Hadrian on Twitter @hadrianmk.

Like this article? rabble is reader-supported journalism. Chip in to keep stories like these coming.

Image: Flickr/Joseph Morris



We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:


  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.


  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.