March 5th, 2012

Canada-EU trade agreement: the government must put its cards on the table

Canadians have the right to know how the agreement will impact health care services

OTTAWA – Our health care system is not for sale and under no circumstances should Canada sign a free trade agreement at the expense of our public system. This is the main conclusion of the first of a series of NDP roundtables on the potential impacts of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement with the European Union. The goal of this series of discussions is to make up for the lack of debate in the House of Commons on this agreement that will affect the public services Canadians depend on.

“The Conservatives are surreptitiously negotiating a free trade agreement which could have irreversible effects on our Canadian health services,” said NDP Deputy Health critic, Anne Minh-Thu Quach. “By promoting deregulation, they could allow for more private sector involvement and threaten the very survival of our public system. Health procurement must be withdrawn from the negotiating table.”

Generic drugs are another topic of concern; experts predict that drug costs could skyrocket if intellectual property rights are prolonged as demanded by the European Union, costing Canadians up to $3 billion annually.

"The EU proposals would further protect profits for European pharmaceutical multinationals, at the expense of Canadian consumers,” said Brian Masse, NDP International Trade critic. “Why does the Conservative government want to make us pay more for prescription drugs when we’re already among those who pay the highest prices in the world for these products?”

In the coming weeks, the New Democratic Party will organize several roundtables discussing the potential effects of CETA in various sectors including municipalities, education and access to information.