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Under terms revealed in leaked copies of the new Canada–US trade deal, Ontario will become the only province in Canada allowing unrestricted access to those countries who have signed onto the World Trade Organization’s Government Procurement Agreement for publicly-funded contracts supplying schools, universities, social services and hospitals, said Fred Hahn, President of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario at Queen’s Park today (February 11, 2010).

Appearing with the Council of Canadians at a joint news conference called to release a leaked copy of the new trade deal, Hahn said, “This is a bad deal for Ontario and Ontarians should be aware of what their Government is giving away before it’s too late.”

We are concerned that, in the long term, Ontario will be the only province required to give permanent and unfettered access to these vital sectors in the new trade deal when most of the other provinces and territories have exempted them and Quebec has protected itself with a clause exempting anything that pertains to culture,” Hahn said.

The CUPE Ontario President says that, based on a copy of the deal leaked earlier this week, he is worried about local food procurement policies in place in the City of Toronto and bottled water bans in cities and regions across Ontario. Hahn is concerned that fair wage policies in place in the City of Hamilton or the City of Greater Sudbury’s “Made in Canada” policy may come under attack from American and foreign corporations. He points to Appendix A of the Agreement which lists the permanent commitments being made by Canada under the WTO’s GPA as a major area of concern. He is also skeptical that the “interim” commitments on “enhanced access” that are being made directly to the US in Appendix C will ever come off the books.

Echoing the concerns of many critics, including other Ontario and national labour leaders, Hahn said the deal gives away far too much in return for far too little and said Dalton McGuinty should refuse to sign on.

This deal would limit the power of the provincial government to harness all the possible economic levers at its disposal to deal with the economic crisis,” said Hahn. “The race to sell off or give away our province needs to end and the Premier should not sign this deal.”

CUPE Ontario represents 220,000 members, approximately 155,000 of whom work in schools, universities, social services and hospitals.
For information, please contact:

Chris Watson              CUPE Communications             416-553-9410