It’s now been about a month since Donald Trump was elected president of the United States, and plenty of people have plenty of reasons to be upset.
I’m about to give you one more: if Trump keeps his campaign promises, his presidency could screw young Canadians over financially.
If you’ve been paying attention, this probably isn’t a surprise. America isn’t just our main ally, it’s also Canada’s biggest trade partner. Our fates are entwined for better or for worse. Earth-shattering events like Trump’s election are bound to reverberate north to us, too.
Put another way, it’s a little bit like being the conjoined twin of someone in the throes of a dangerous psychosis. Except that person also has a gun fetish. Fun, right?
Case in point: if you were following what went down on Election Night, you may remember global markets crashing, dragging our currency down as well. It’s OK, it’s all fine and stabilized now. But for a moment there, the value of the loonie went on a wild ride down, which is bad for anyone who likes being able to buy things with Canadian money.
But if Trump follows through on his vow to renegotiate or completely withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), things won’t go back to normal that easily.
Today, $51 million in goods passes over the Canada-U.S. border every month. NAFTA makes that possible — when it was signed in 1994, the deal eliminated trade barriers between the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
Without NAFTA, trading with the U.S. could get a lot harder and a lot more expensive, which really sucks for the people who hold the 2.5 million Canadian jobs that are dependent it.
Not to pile on, but if Trump also makes good on his promises to back out of negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), that would also probably be bad.
The TPP, if finalized, would be the biggest trade deal in history. Though experts say the TPP would hurt certain industries, they also say it would boost Canada’s GDP overall, which is a good thing. If the United States backs out, the whole thing is pretty much down the toilet.
Necessary caveat: the dust is starting to settle somewhat now, but it’s still not clear exactly what Trump’s economic policies are going to be. Also, if anything, this election has proved that experts can be wrong.
Still, if experts are right on this one, young people stand to be some of the biggest losers.
We’re fairly close to the bottom of the economic totem pole already. Nearly 40 per cent of post-secondary students in Canada are struggling to feed themselves, according to one recent study. Not only that, but our current finance minister, Bill Morneau, has said young people should get used to precarious employment — short-term contract jobs that offer young people low wages, inconsistent hours and little in the way of benefits like health insurance that our parents enjoyed.
Since we’re already in a risky position, any larger economic difficulties hit young people extra hard. The end of NAFTA and the TPP wouldn’t be a small disturbance, either.
There is a flipside to this — some of Trump’s potential policies could actually benefit Canada. For instance, the president-elect has vowed to re-open negotiations on the Keystone XL pipeline. Canada’s economy is still very dependent on Alberta oil, which the pipeline would carry from the tar sands to the Gulf of Mexico so that it can be sold. Environmentalists wouldn’t like that, but it would inject millions of dollars into the Canadian economy every year.
Of course, that could be totally outweighed by the loss of NAFTA, but who really knows what would happen? Heck, I’m just a person who reads the news and took a single economics class one time.
Bottom line is, keep paying attention. The stakes are high, especially for us.