Trade agreement ‘troubled’: labour group

A controversial trade agreement being reviewed by the territorial government is a troubled document, says the Yukon Federation of Labour.

A controversial trade agreement being reviewed by the territorial government is a troubled document, says the Yukon Federation of Labour.

The federation is undertaking its own review of the Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA), a bilateral pact signed by Alberta and BC in 2006 and recently rejected by Saskatchewan, which is being studied by the Yukon government after an invitation to join.

“I’m not saying that at this point there are positives or negatives but there are certainly things in the document that concern us,” said Furlong. “It’s a troubled document.

“It could have great impacts for labour both from the workers’ point of view and the social point of view.”

Furlong declined to go into specifics of the review until it’s finished, but did offer some hints about the direction of the review.

One of the primary reasons BC and Alberta signed on was “under the guise” of labour mobility; but no real barriers actually exist, he said.

“There are, depending on the part of the country you’re in, labour shortages and it would appear that provincial governments associate that with the need to sign on to document such as TILMA,” said Furlong.

“The last time I looked there is no such barrier to labour mobility in Canada. If I’m a carpenter I can go work anywhere in Canada. The last time there was a mass exodus to Fort McMurray, they didn’t put up border agents.”

TILMA demands “no obstacles” block the movement of investment, good and people between signatories and requires the elimination of incentives and regulation to create a competitive atmosphere for business.

Removing trade barriers would make it easier for labourers to relocate and businesses to invest outside of their home provinces, says the agreement.

A $5 million maximum fine can be levied by a TILMA panel against provincial/territorial governments or municipalities, school boards and publicly funded universities and colleges, which all fall under the agreement, if found in violation of offering tax incentives or regulating development and labour policies.

The Saskatchewan Federation of Labour authored a report on TILMA and came out against the agreement when the provincial government was reviewing the document.

“Four-fifths of employment is not in regulated professions or occupations where regulatory barriers exist,” said the report.

“TILMA, by its design and intent, threatens to weaken or drive down professional standards because the signatories are obliged to reconcile any measures that differ among the provinces, but not necessarily to the higher standard.”

Mechanisms like the red seal for trades people, which allows certified labourers to move from province to province, are already in place, said Furlong.

The report from the federation will consider alternatives to TILMA.

If a government wanted to keep workers in the province or territory, it’s the dollar sign that speaks loudest, said Furlong.

“If we have a crunch, well one of things you do is pay them better and give them better benefits. Employers need to be employers of choice. The youth want money and benefits and they want increased training opportunities. What a novel idea.”

Furlong and his colleagues have been studying TILMA for last three months and working with colleagues in BC, Alberta and Saskatchewan.

The study should be finished within three weeks and the conclusions of the study will be released at that time.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

City councillor Samson Hartland in Whitehorse on Dec. 3, 2018. Hartland has announced his plans to run for mayor in the Oct. 21 municipal election. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Councillor sets sights on mayor’s chair

Hartland declares election plans

Premier Sandy Silver speaks to media after delivering the budget in the legislature in Whitehorse on March 4. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Territorial budget predicts deficit of $12.7 million, reduced pandemic spending in 2021-2022

If recovery goes well, the territory could end up with a very small surplus.

Dawson City RCMP are reporting a break and enter on Feb. 25 after two masked men entered a residence, assaulted a man inside with a weapon and departed. (Black Press file)
Two men arrested after Dawson City home invasion

Dawson City RCMP are reporting a break and enter on Feb. 25.… Continue reading

Highways and Public Works Minister Richard Mostyn speaks to reporters at a news conference in Whitehorse on Dec. 21, 2017. New ATIPP laws are coming into effect April 1. (Chris Windeyer/Yukon News file)
New access to information laws will take effect April 1

“Our government remains committed to government openness and accountability.”

City council meeting in Whitehorse on Feb. 8. At Whitehorse city council’s March 1 meeting, members were presented with a bylaw that would repeal 10 bylaws deemed to be redundant or out of date. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Out with the old

Council considers repealing outdated bylaws

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley receives his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine from Public Health Nurse Angie Bartelen at the Yukon Convention Centre Clinic in Whitehorse on March 3. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
State of emergency extended for another 90 days

“Now we’re in a situation where we see the finish line.”

RCMP Online Crime Reporting website in Whitehorse on March 5. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Whitehorse RCMP launch online crime reporting

Both a website and Whitehorse RCMP app are now available

A man walks passed the polling place sign at city hall in Whitehorse on Oct. 18, 2018. The City of Whitehorse is preparing for a pandemic-era election this October with a number of measures proposed to address COVID-19 restrictions. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City gets set for Oct. 21 municipal election

Elections procedures bylaw comes forward

A rendering of the Normandy Manor seniors housing facility. (Photo courtesy KBC Developments)
Work on seniors housing project moves forward

Funding announced for Normandy Manor

Tom Ullyett, pictured, is the first Yukoner to receive the Louis St-Laurent Award of Excellence from the Canadian Bar Association for his work as a community builder and mentor in the territory. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
Tom Ullyett wins lifetime achievement award from the Canadian Bar Association

Ullyett has worked in the Yukon’s justice ecosystem for 36 years as a public sector lawyer and mentor

The Blood Ties outreach van will now run seven nights a week, thanks to a boost in government funding. Logan Godin, coordinator, and Jesse Whelen, harm reduction counsellor, are seen here on May 12, 2020. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Blood Ties outreach van running seven nights a week with funding boost

The Yukon government is ramping up overdose response, considering safe supply plan

Ranj Pillai speaks to media about business relief programs in Whitehorse on April 1, 2020. The Yukon government announced Feb.25 that it will extend business support programs until September. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Government extends business relief programs to September, launches new loan

“It really gives folks some help with supporting their business with cash flow.”

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
A look at decisions made by Whitehorse City Council this week

Bylaw amendment Whitehorse city council is moving closer with changes to a… Continue reading

Most Read