The Harper government is pushing ahead with an investment deal that will have long-term implications for jobs in Canada’s auto and dairy industries, and drive up prescription drug costs for patients here and around the world.
“Trade deals are supposed to benefit ordinary working families, but this deal has nothing to do with balanced trade and developing Canada’s exports,” said CLC president Hassan Yussuff.
“Instead, it will benefit a select few by extending investors’ power to protect profits, opening up our auto industry to low-wage competition and expanding monopolies for powerful multinationals, like pharmaceutical companies,” he added.
Yussuff says the auto-manufacturing sector will be especially hard hit by the deal, which includes significant reductions in local content requirements for vehicles and automotive parts.
“This government has overseen enormous damage to Canadian manufacturing capacity and employment, and our auto industry is already reeling,” he said. “Now it will now be forced to compete with low-wage parts sourced from other countries, and that’s bad news for thousands of good manufacturing jobs.”
Yussuff is also concerned about the deal’s impact on Canadian dairy and poultry farms, saying it threatens farmers’ ability to continue to make a decent living wage, while providing good, safe food for Canadians.
A technical summary released by the government contains only vague information, leaving many questioning Trade Minister Ed Fast’s assertion that he doesn’t anticipate job losses. It does reveal that the deal maintains monopoly powers for pharmaceutical multinationals over generic producers. And more questions are raised than answered about how opening up procurement rules will impact local government autonomy and the ability to generate local jobs and community economic benefits.
Yussuff says the Conservatives appear to be using the deal as an electoral prop, while keeping Canadians in the dark about the long-term implications.
“Canadians need to know now, not after the election, what this deal will mean for jobs in the auto industry, or for pharmacare and the cost of medication, or for the ability of municipalities to promote local economic development and job creation, without fear of being sued by corporations,” said Yussuff.
“Voters wouldn't accept a vague ‘technical summary’ of the parties’ commitments, and they shouldn’t be kept in the dark about the implications of this deal,” he concluded.