MP Report – March 7th, 2012

We must continue to be vigilant on trade deals. 

Canadians have every right to be concerned about the proposed free trade agreement with the European Union.

Canadians support fair trade deals but we have seen time and time again that so called trade deals are often about a lot more than trade.

Our caucus has conducted a series of round tables on the proposed trade deal. The goal of this series of discussions is to make up for the lack of debate in the House of Commons on this agreement that will affect the public services Canadians depend on.

The message from Canadians has been clear. Canadians have the right to know how the agreement will impact on Canada.

Canadians have been clear about the impacts of the agreement on our health care system.

Our health care system is not for sale and under no circumstances should Canada sign a free trade agreement at the expense of our public system. This is the main conclusion of the first of a series of NDP roundtables on the potential impacts of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement with the European Union. Canadians have the right to know how the agreement will impact health care services.

The Conservatives are negotiating a free trade agreement which could have irreversible effects on our Canadian health services. By promoting deregulation, they could allow for more private sector involvement and threaten the very survival of our public system. That is why we have stated clearly that health procurement must be withdrawn from the negotiating table. Generic drugs are another topic of concern; experts predict that drug costs could skyrocket if intellectual property rights are prolonged as demanded by the European Union, costing Canadians up to $3 billion annually.

The EU proposals would further protect profits for European pharmaceutical multinationals, at the expense of Canadian consumers. Why should we pay more for prescription drugs when we're already among those who pay the highest prices in the world for these products?

In the coming weeks we will organize several roundtables discussing the potential effects of CETA in various sectors including municipalities, education and access to information.

It is important to speak out on this critical issue.