EU Trade Deal threatens Canadian labour rights
OTTAWA -- The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE), the Trade Justice Network (TJN) and the European Federation of Public Services Unions (EPSU) are demanding that negotiations toward the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) be halted in order to address a number of outstanding concerns by labour and civil society groups.
In a letter to all Canadian Members of Parliament, the groups outline major concerns still contained in the Agreement about the potential impact on citizens’ well being and the public interest. The letter is similar to one that the organizations sent to all 736 Members of the European Parliament.
At the forefront is the concern that public authorities and local jurisdictions' ability to provide and regulate public services will be undermined in this Agreement. Anything not being explicitedly excluded from the agreement will be deemed to be fair game for corporations once this agreement is signed. As the signatories state "Both EU and Canadian citizens need to see broad exclusions of public services from any agreement as well as sufficient policy space to define and regulate public services in the future."
Additionally, language in CETA continues to all big business to override democratically-elected government decisions. Rather than just bind the hands of the federal government, this agreement would impact decisions taken by the provincial and municipal levels of government, including local school boards and hospitals. "In particular the Canadian government and the European Commission are discussing access to ‘procurement’ by all these levels of government." CETA would prohibit governments from investing tax dollars to encourage local development.
Finally, the entire lack of transparency in the process is being challenged. "We also respectfully suggest that you challenge the lack of transparency regarding the proposed content of CETA. On the EU side, there have been three European Commission papers regarding the proposed changes on public services but not one of them has been made available to civil society."