Policy and Political Action

Policy & Political Action

Action Alert: Leave Ontario out of TILMA-like trade agreements

February 25, 2008

RNAO urges nurses and the public to tell Premier Dalton McGuinty that we don't want Ontario to sign inter-provincial agreements that will compromise health and safety, promote privatization and deregulation, and threaten the viability of Medicare.

Background

The Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA) was signed by British Columbia and Alberta in 2006 and came into effect April 2007. TILMA was signed without public consultation, and when the agreement came to light there was much concern about its far-ranging impact.

Quite simply, TILMA could be read as a corporate bill of rights. While it has been promoted as a harmless effort to reduce inter-provincial trade barriers, the agreement will reduce the scope of government’s ability to act in the public interest. It is likely to harmonize health, safety and employment standards down to the lowest common denominator, and support further privatization and deregulation. It poses a serious threat to the viability of Medicare, other social programs and institutions, as well as the autonomy of local governments.

If government policies are challenged, TILMA requires the provinces and their agencies to prove that the rules and regulations they enforce do not “restrict or impair” trade and investment. Under TILMA, rules designed to protect public health or the environment (e.g., a law banning cosmetic pesticides) are vulnerable to legal challenges demanding compensation of up to $5-million. While that might seems like a large sum of money, the costs to local democracy are far greater.

Organizations like the Chamber of Commerce and Canadian Council of Chief Executives advocated for TILMA, and now have formally asked premiers to adopting its dispute resolution process into the pan-Canadian Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT),. Effectively, this change would expand TILMA into Ontario and the rest of the country. Regrettably, Premier Dalton McGuinty and his colleagues endorsed changes to the AIT dispute resolution system that will move in that direction at the Council of the Federation meeting held last month in Vancouver.

Premiers McGuinty and Charest announced in November 2007 that Ontario and Quebec are starting to negotiate an inter-provincial agreement on trade and labour mobility. RNAO is concerned that this agreement could also enhance the rights of corporations to make profits at the expense of the rights of governments to act in the public interest.

RNAO has sent an open letter to Premier McGuinty [PDF - 55 KB] asking him to reject the TILMA approach with its attendant agenda of deregulation and downward harmonization , which conflicts with the core commitments of his government to advance democratic governance and the public good. We have also issued a press release available at

Action Requested

We are asking you to tell Premier Dalton McGuinty that and that you don’t want Ontario to sign inter-provincial agreements that will water down health and safety, promote privatization and deregulation, and threaten the viability of Medicare. Please use the form below to send your letter. You can use the one in the form or send one of your own.

This action alert has now concluded. Thank you for participating.

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