Provincial and Territorial Benefits
Myths and Realities About Canada’s Free Trade Agreements
Myth #1: Free trade agreements threaten Canada’s public services.
- Canada’s FTAs exclude health care, public education and other social services maintained for a public purpose.
- Canada’s FTAs do not force governments to privatize, contract out or deregulate public services.
Myth #2: Free trade agreements prevent governments from regulating environmental, labour, health care and safety standards.
- Canada’s FTAs do not prevent governments from regulating standards that protect the public, including in the areas of the environment, labour, health care and safety.
- Nothing in any of Canada’s FTAs would exempt foreign service providers from Canadian laws and regulations.
Myth #3:Free trade agreements threaten Canada’s public health care system.
- Canada’s FTAs, including the agreement currently being negotiated with the EU, do not support privatization of Canada’s public health care system.
Myth #4: Free trade agreements threaten Canada’s water quality standards and water services regulations.
- Canada’s FTAs do not prevent governments from setting standards to ensure that Canadians have access to safe drinking water.
- Canada’s FTAs do not force governments to privatize, contract out or deregulate water-related services. All companies operating in Canada, whether domestic or foreign, must respect Canadian laws and regulations.
Myth #5: Free trade agreements harm Canadian environmental standards and regulations.
- Canada’s FTAs do not compromise the environmental protection measures that Canada has implemented.
- Nothing in any of Canada’s FTAs would exempt foreign service providers and foreign investors from Canadian laws and regulations.
Myth #6: Free trade agreements could force Canada to export its water.
- Canada’s FTAs do not consider water in its natural state—that is, water held in natural bodies such as rivers, lakes and streams—as a “good” or a “product” for export.
- Canadian federal legislation prohibits the bulk removal of boundary waters from natural basins for any reason, including export.
- Canada’s FTAs, including the agreement being negotiated with the EU, do not compromise the measures implemented by Canada’s provinces to protect the water within their jurisdictions.
Myth #7: A Canada-EU free trade agreement would prevent the Government of Canada from protecting Canada’s cultural interests.
- Canada’s FTAs, including NAFTA, have not prevented Canada from protecting its cultural interests. The preservation and promotion of Canada’s cultural diversity is among the Government of Canada’s core objectives.
- These same allegations were made during the NAFTA negotiations 25 years ago. Yet today, Canadian culture is thriving like never before. Canadian books, television, visual arts, music, and countless other art forms are at the forefront of the world stage.
- Canada would continue to meet its cultural objectives in a Canada-EU FTA.
Myth #8: Free trade agreements allow foreign investors and foreign companies to challenge Canadian laws and regulations.
- Canada’s FTAs do not allow foreign investors or companies to force a government to change its laws and regulations.
- Including mechanisms for dispute resolution through international arbitration in FTAs does not restrict any level of government from legitimately legislating in the public interest.
- Canadian and foreign investors alike are subject to all of Canada’s laws and regulations pertaining to environmental, labour, health care, building and safety standards.
Myth #9: A Canada-EU free trade agreement would increase drug and health care costs.
- With respect to intellectual property protection in the pharmaceutical sector, the Government of Canada has always sought to strike a balance between promoting innovation and job creation and ensuring that Canadians continue to have access to the affordable drugs they need.
- The prices charged for patented medicines sold in Canada are regulated by the Patented Medicines Pricing Review Board. This will not change under a free trade agreement with the EU.
- The Government of Canada continues to consult with industry stakeholders and the provinces and territories to ensure that the best interests of Canadians are reflected in the Canada-EU trade negotiations.
Myth #10: A Canada-EU free trade agreement would prevent Canada’s municipal governments from sourcing goods and services locally.
- Canada’s municipalities may continue to use existing selection criteria such as quality, price (including transportation costs and duties), technical requirements or relevant experience in competitive bids.
- A Canada-EU trade agreement would not prevent governments from addressing the needs of their constituents and providing support to local businesses through grants, loans and fiscal incentives.
- Projects below a threshold dollar value would not be subject to the agreement, nor would the procurement of services such as research and development, financial, public administration, education or health care services.
- Canada’s procurement system is already quite open at all levels of government, currently allowing local and other companies to compete for government contracts.
- When foreign suppliers win bids, they usually source and hire locally.
Myth #11: The Government of Canada is negotiating a Canada-EU free trade agreement secretly.
- The Canada-EU trade negotiations have been and continue to be the most open and transparent trade negotiations in Canadian history.
- The Government of Canada is committed to keeping Canadians informed about the negotiations and to consulting as extensively as possible to ensure that an agreement meets the needs of Canadians.
- An agreement will be signed only if it is in the best interests of Canadians.
- The Government of Canada has solicited input since the launch of negotiations and has received valuable input from civil society groups, companies and industry associations from across Canada. Also, Canadian government officials have been actively consulting with business, civil society and other interested Canadians.
- Under the Treaties in Parliament process, the Canada-EU trade agreement will be publicly tabled in the House of Commons.