Nurses urge caution about inter-provincial trade agreements
Today, the association released a copy of a letter it sent to Premier Dalton McGuinty urging his government to reject the Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA) and to ensure that future trade agreements such as the one Ontario is negotiating with Quebec do not contain trade practices that promote privatization and take aim against Medicare and measures to protect peoples’ health.
“ British Columbia and Alberta have signed onto TILMA and there is pressure for Ontario to sign on as well,” says RNAO President Mary Ferguson-Pare. “This agreement is potentially devastating because it’s being promoted as a harmless effort to reduce inter-provincial trade barriers when it’s really a means to harmonize health, safety and employment standards to their lowest common denominator. Quite simply, TILMA could be read as a corporate bill of rights,” adds Ferguson-Pare.
RNAO Executive Director Doris Grinspun says it also could threaten Medicare and other social programs because “it has the potential of allowing private interests to sue governments for any measures that restrict profit-making. If Ontario were to join TILMA or similar agreements, it could mean pesticide companies in other provinces might be able to sue jurisdictions in Ontario that have passed pesticide by-laws.”
“Nurses are concerned about this and we believe citizens should be too. We encourage people in Ontario to learn more about the implications of these kinds of trade agreements and to write to Premier McGuinty about their concerns,” adds Grinspun.
Members of the public can read RNAO’s open letter to the premier and learn more about the Trade Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA) by visiting www.rnao.ca.
The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) is the professional association representing registered nurses wherever they practise in Ontario. Since 1925, RNAO has lobbied for healthy public policy, promoted excellence in nursing practice, increased nurses’ contribution to shaping the health-care system, and influenced decisions that affect nurses and the public they serve.