New trade deal puts public services at risk

The Conservative government has just signed a free trade that will give corporations, not elected governments, more power to decide what’s good for Canada.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal makes corporations more powerful than citizens

“PSAC is very concerned that the TPP will create a chilling effect that discourages the federal government from creating programs and enacting laws and regulations in the public interest around important issues like the environment, health care and public safety, among others,” said PSAC national president Robyn Benson.

Free trade agreements are not limited to trade. The TPP is expected to give new powers to corporations to overturn decisions made by elected governments.

“There is no guarantee that corporations won’t demand that more and more public services be privatized in order to improve their bottom-line”, said Benson.

The TPP takes decisions out of the hands of citizens and their governments

A dispute settlement process in the TPP will allow multi-national corporations to sue governments for actions that interfere with their investments.

Governments won’t want to risk creating new and needed public programs, such as national pharmacare, if they risk being sued by corporations.

A similar process in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has already forced the Canadian government to backtrack on environmental and public health regulations. More challenges to government actions taken in the public interest can be expected.

The TPP has been negotiated in almost total secrecy

The TPP is one of the largest free trade agreements ever negotiated. Neither the public nor opposition Members of Parliament in Canada or in many other nations have seen the agreement text. Leaked chapters show that like other trade deals it is biased in favour of corporations, not citizens.

“The fact that the TPP has been negotiated in such secrecy means it is almost certainly not in the overall public interest,” said Benson. “The cloak of secrecy needs to be dropped before the federal election so that Canadians can find out exactly what this government is signing away.”

The TPP not likely to create good jobs

The deal will do very little to create value-added jobs or reduce unemployment. Eighty percent of exports to TPP trading partners will be raw exports, while 80 per cent of imports will be finished products. There are predictions that Canada will experience a 26 per cent reduction in value-added exports as a result of the TPP. The auto industry alone could lose 20,000 jobs. Conservative promises of investment are not guarantees of either the necessary investment or jobs.

The TPP threatens privacy

Canadians’ privacy is at risk from rules that would allow the unregulated transmission of personal information across borders.

The TPP will cost Canadians in the long run

Canadians can expect to pay more for drugs in future because increased intellectual property protections in the deal will undermine the production of generic versions.

Our supply-managed agricultural industry is threatened. Although the Harper government is promising compensation for farmers, why should Canadians have to pay for a deal that isn’t in Canada’s interest to begin with.

Without seeing the details of the deal, will imported foods be subject to the same regulations that help keep our current food supply safe?

(Information in this statement is based on Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives research)


October 8, 2015