CUPE’s National Executive Board has reaffirmed its support for a fair and equitable renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

In a resolution adopted by the Board on June 22, CUPE commits to ensuring that any renegotiation promotes trade that meets the needs of workers and the environment; to dispensing with the Chapter 11 and Investor State Dispute Settlement mechanisms, which have made Canada the most sued country in the developed world; and to engaging in trinational solidarity initiatives to support better wages, human rights practices, and environmental standards.

The resolution noted that since NAFTA was signed in 1994, Canada has lost 800,000 manufacturing jobs, while confronting the myth that Mexico is “stealing” jobs in North America, noting that wages in Mexico are still a fraction of the wages in Canada and the United States, and unemployment is still incredibly high.

The Board also noted that while the renegotiation of NAFTA brings with it significant new risks to public services, labour rights, and environmental standards, it also presents an opportunity to challenge conventional thinking around international trade. “While we have always opposed NAFTA, we recognize this is an opportunity to challenge our government to fundamentally remake NAFTA,” the statement reads. “To create a new model of alternative trade and cooperation that works for all of North America, that does not allow investors to sue governments, that protects public services, respects human and labour rights, and that raises living conditions in all three countries.”

CUPE will also be making a formal public submission to the Government of Canada to relay these concerns during the Government’s consultation period, which ends in mid‑July.