Labour groups call on Ontario to reject Buy American deal

The Canadian Press ~ The News
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TORONTO - Labour groups are calling on Ontario to reject a new trade agreement that allows Canadian companies to be temporarily exempt from the Buy American elements of Washington's stimulus package.
CUPE Ontario and the Council of Canadians say Ontario is the only province that's required to give permanent and unrestricted foreign access to publicly funded contracts that supply schools, universities, social services and hospitals.
The union, which released a leaked copy of the deal today, says the other provinces and territories have exempted them and Quebec even has a clause that exempts anything that pertains to culture.
Only a few Ontario agencies would be exempt from the deal, including Metrolinx, Ontario Power Generation and the Ontario Power Authority, Infrastructure Ontario and the Toronto Waterfront Corp.
CUPE says it's worried that bottled water bans, local food procurement policies and fair wage polices may come under attack from American and foreign companies under the deal.
Fred Hahn, president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees Ontario, says the deal gives away far too much in return for far too little.
"This deal would limit the power of the provincial government to harness all the possible economic levers at its disposal to deal with the economic crisis," Hahn said in a release.
"The race to sell off or give away our province needs to end and the premier should not sign this deal."
CUPE Ontario represents 220,000 members, approximately 155,000 of whom work in schools, universities, social services and hospitals.

Organizations: Ontario Power Generation, Ontario Power Authority, Toronto Waterfront Canadian Union of Public Employees Ontario

Geographic location: Ontario, TORONTO, Washington Quebec

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