The flags of Canada, the USA and Mexico When talks resume in November, the Canadian government must push harder to fix the many problems with the North American Free Trade Agreement.

This includes eliminating Chapter 11, NAFTA’s “investor-state dispute settlement” rules. Chapter 11 lets US and Mexican corporations sue the Canadian government for decisions that interfere with investments – and profits.

The American government had proposed changes that would let US corporations sue Mexico and Canada, but prevent Canadian or Mexican companies from suing the US government. Canada and Mexico have rejected this proposal, along with other US demands.

In 2015, a Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives study found that Canada has been the target of 35 NAFTA investor claims. Mexico faced 22, and the US 20. All three governments should be free to make decisions without fearing multi-million-dollar lawsuits.

“Canada has been sued more times than any other developed nation, thanks to Chapter 11. Corporations must not have the power to challenge democratic decisions in unaccountable tribunals. It’s time to close the book on this terrible set of rules,” says CUPE National President Mark Hancock.

Eliminating Chapter 11 is just one of the changes CUPE is pushing for, to help workers and protect public services and the environment in all three NAFTA countries.

The Canadian government must also live up to its public statements about stronger labour rights. Existing labour protections in NAFTA aren’t enforceable, leaving workers vulnerable to abuse.

“Solidarity must be the guiding principle of any NAFTA renegotiation. The federal government needs to keep demanding stronger labour protections. These rights can’t be watered down or traded away,” says Hancock.

“Workers know you don’t give up or back down in the middle of a round of negotiations. We expect our government to come back to the table in November ready to fight for a better deal.”

CUPE has written to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, outlining what’s needed to have real, enforceable labour standards in a renegotiated NAFTA.