Canada: Free trade with Europe could throw Ontarians out of work

The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) that Canada and the EU are negotiating behind closed doors would result in as many as 70,000 job losses in Ontario and would undermine independent government decision-making, according to a new report produced by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives’ (CCPA) office in that province.

“Straightjacket: CETA’s Constraining Effects on Ontario”, the report written by the economist John Jacob, details the ways in which the CETA could accelerate Ontario’s industrial decline and weaken the province’s economic future. “The manufacturing sector would be hard hit,” said Jacobs. “CETA locks trade partners into their current pattern which is imbalanced.”

“It would box Ontario into exporting non-renewable resources such as gold, nickel and uranium – privileging EU’s current dominance of value-added exports to Ontario and leaving the province in a virtual straightjacket while bleeding jobs,” he added.

As well as job loss, CETA would undermine independent government decision-making. CETA blocks options to boost exports of more sophisticated, value-added goods, forcing the province to rely on non-renewable resource exports, which have a finite future.

At the current rate of extraction, Ontario could exhaust its gold reserves within a decade.

“The deal that’s being proposed would tie the hands of provincial and municipal governments in unprecedented ways,” said Jacobs.

Larry Brown, National Secretary-Treasurer of the 340,000 member National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE), welcomes the report.

“This report validates a point we have been making consistently on the CETA negotiations – this proposed deal will have serious repercussions for the Canadian economy and for the right of Canadians to make democratic decisions about their own future,” said Brown.

“We've long argued that provinces should be calling a halt to the negotiations until there has been a public debate about the wisdom of the deal.  This report pulls back the veil of secrecy that has surrounded these talks and allows the public to see what's at stake.”

Among the report’s key findings:

■ CETA is weighted in EU investors’ favour and would worsen the trade imbalance that already exists;

■ CETA would prevent provincial and municipal governments from pursuing local economic development initiatives;

■ CETA would threaten public services by entrenching investor rights and preventing governments from bringing failed privatization and P3 schemes back under public control;

■ CETA would increase the cost of pharmaceutical drugs to the provincial drug plan by an estimated $551 million a year; and

■ CETA would expose governments to increased risk of litigation from corporations, casting a chill on government initiatives to put environmental sustainability and the public interest ahead of investor profits.
More information:

More informatiojn
“Straightjacket: CETA’s Constraining Effects on Ontario”:

National Union of Public and General Employees: