Public services play a vital role in maintaining our quality of life. Medicare, public education, social services in the public interest, water and waste management services that put public health ahead of profits - each of these contribute to make Canada one of the best countries in the world.
But corporations see these services as a potential source of enormous profit. Theyre anxious to tap into the Canadian market, selling these services for profit and diverting public spending to private gain.
With the support of governments focused on creating wealth - not jobs, these corporations are aggressively pushing an agenda of freer trade. And their efforts are focused on the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the negotiations to extend the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS).
Starting in November in Seattle and continuing over the coming year, key decisions will be made that will drastically change Canadian society forever. If the GATS is extended to Canada, corporations would have the right to:
- Set up private, for-profit hospitals
- Import cheap labour to replace Canadian workers
- Cut Canadian content from our universities and schools
- Divert public funding to finance foreign-owned for-profit services.
Trade Minister Pierre Pettigrew has said Canada wont protect our public services by exempting them from any trade deals. It appears hes more interested in opening up foreign markets for Canadian corporations than protecting the best interests of Canadian citizens.
But we can protect our public services if we take action today. By mobilizing Canadians from coast to coast and joining with allies around the world, we managed to stop the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) dead in its tracks.
Now governments and corporations are trying to achieve the same ends at the WTO.