The trade and investment deal being negotiated between Canada and the European Union puts public health care services at risk of privatization, according to analysis from the Canadian Labour Congress.
The Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) is being negotiated in secret. Based on leaked texts, the CLC and other groups have revealed how CETA will compound and magnify the weaknesses of existing provisions for Medicare in other trade deals.
The CLC analysis shows how the Canadian government has failed to protect public health care services in three main ways:
- Canada is relying on unclear language in CETA (and NAFTA and the GATS) that may not cover Medicare, given the privatization that has already crept in to areas of public health care
- Canada has not negotiated a blanket exemption for Medicare in CETA, and
- CETA gives private European health corporations the power to challenge any expansion of Medicare, or the end of any health care privatization.
To make matters worse, if CETA is signed, NAFTA provisions will mean that American corporations will be entitled to the same powers and benefits as European corporations. This effectively ends the minimal protections for public health care negotiated under NAFTA.
The CLC backgrounder also touches on the impact of European demands about drug patents. Extending these patents will delay the release of cheaper generic drugs, draining $2.8 billion a year from health care budgets.
The federal government must negotiate iron-clad protections for Medicare – and all other public services and social programs that CETA touches.