Free Trade Agreement of
special report compiled by NSAEHA Staff, April 2001
if after all the hard work of the past few years the pesticide ban could
be overturned because it was labeled " a barrier to free trade."
The proposed Free Trade Agreement of America (FTAA) which is the focus
of the Summit of the Americas in Quebec City on April 20-22 and related
sub-agreements contain a number of terrible clauses affecting the environment,
forests, fisheries and water resources, public services and worker protection.
But I want to alert you especially to two critical areas in which, if it
is passed, it will affect our health and our access
2. The FTAA, unlike NAFTA, would be expanded to include the service sector. Government services, like health care, would be targets for privatization by foreign companies. "Rick Scott, the president of Columbia, the world's largest for-profit hospital corporation, says that health care is a business, no different from the airline or ball-bearing industry, and he has vowed to destroy every public hospital in North America, as they are not "good corporate citizens.If services are included in the FTAA, as they so clearly appear to be, foreign for-profit health, education and other social service corporations from anywhere in the hemisphere will have the right to establish a "commercial presence" anywhere in Canada. They will have the right to compete for public dollars with public institutions like hospitals, schools and day care centres." (Barlow, see below). The Canadian Medical Association's position is that "the type of health-care system that Canadians and health -care providers want is of primary concern, whereas the goals of trade liberalization in health services is of a secondary nature."
Unfortunately, our politicians don't seem to see it that way. Already under NAFTA Canada was forced to reverse legislation bannning the gasoline additive MMT, which Jean Chretien once called "a dangerous neurotoxin." Canada has also been forced to reverse legislation banning the export of PCBs, and was sucessfully sued for $20 million in lost profits by a US PCB waste disposal company, even though Canada's actions complied with an international convention on hazardous waste. And the proposed new FTAA is much stronger.
If this agreement is passed it would severely limit our government's ability to protect human health and the environment, not to mention preserve a public health care system. So the FTAA is not SOME OTHER ISSUE that we can afford to ignore. It is all the issues we have been concerned about for years and those we will be concerned about in the future, in another form. Please make sure to help others understand what is at stake here. And please make your opposition know in whatever way you can. Consider contacting your representative in Parliament and/or the Prime Minister.
above information is drawn principally from Maud Barlow's article, Free
Trade Agreement of the Americas, a lengthy document filled with information
which can be found at the website of Council of Canadians, www.canadians.org.