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View Vance Badawey Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Vance Badawey Profile
2020-03-11 18:23 [p.1967]
Madam Speaker, it is my pleasure this evening to rise in the House to speak to the modernized NAFTA, specifically to the important outcomes contained in the labour chapter.
The Canada-United States-Mexico agreement preserves, as well as modernizes, the North American Free Trade Agreement, or as we know it NAFTA, by carrying forward key existing elements and improving outcomes in areas that will enhance our most important trading relationship. Moreover, the amendments agreed to in December 2019 strengthen enforceability provisions in this agreement, including new mechanisms specific to the implementation of labour obligations, which make a good deal even better.
Through the new labour chapter, the agreement seeks to protect and enhance workers' rights and improve working conditions and living standards across North America. Canada's practice is to negotiate comprehensive labour provisions in the context of its free trade agreements in order to promote and uphold strong labour standards.
Trade and labour protections are mutually supportive. Canada strives to demonstrate internationally that a competitive economy includes safe, healthy and co-operative workplaces. The original NAFTA includes a side agreement on labour called the North American Agreement on Labour Co-operation. The new NAFTA includes a comprehensive and robust labour chapter that is fully enforceable and represents a significant improvement over the original NAFTA, its side agreement and other language.
In particular, the new labour chapter includes commitments to protect and promote internationally recognized labour principles and rights as set out in the International Labour Organization's 1998 Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, including the rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining. The chapter also includes a non-derogation clause that prevents parties from deviating from their domestic labour laws in order to encourage trade or investment.
These commitments are all subject to the state-to-state dispute settlement mechanism that is contained within this agreement. Importantly, the new labour chapter has a number of key provisions to ensure that trade does not come at the expense of workers' labour rights. For instance, it includes enforceable obligations to address issues related to migrant workers, forced or compulsory labour, and violence against union members. To address labour rights violations in Mexico, it also includes an annex with specific requirements on worker representation and collective bargaining.
The terrible practice of forced or compulsory labour still exists in many countries. The International Labour Organization estimates that in 2016 approximately 25 million people worldwide were subjected to forced labour, and a disproportionate number of them were women and young girls.
The new NAFTA is a landmark deal, because it is the very first free trade agreement to include an obligation that commits parties to prohibit the importation of goods produced by forced labour. This is a milestone provision that will support workers' rights and human rights around the globe.
While these inclusive trade provisions will largely help workers outside of Canada, the modernized agreement will also help workers here at home. North American free trade has been an enormous benefit to Canadian businesses, workers and the overall economy. It means more good-quality jobs here at home and more affordable goods and services available domestically as well as internationally.
I will give an example of how the agreement will protect Canadian interests and help to curb the outflow of jobs. The rules of origin chapter addresses automotive manufacturing wages in North America by including a labour value content requirement.
Basically, this means that 40% of the value of a vehicle must come from a plant where the workers earn an average of at least $16 U.S. per hour in order for the vehicle to be considered as originating from a NAFTA country. The provision, together with the labour chapter provisions on collective barginning rights, may create upward pressure on wages in Mexico and help to level the playing field for Canadian workers, as well as businesses throughout our great nation.
It is also important to note that the labour chapter is subject to the dispute settlement chapter in instances of non-compliance to ensure that all labour obligations are well respected. The agreement provides an opportunity for parties to take the necessary actions and measures to enforce the agreement's obligations if prior attempts to resolve the matter through consultations prove ineffective.
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