Free Trade and the Public Sector

Publisher:  Ontario Public Services Employees Union
Year Published:  1986  
Pages:  50pp  
Resource Type:  Book
Cx Number:  CX3288

Abstract:  In staking out a strong case against free trade, this pamphlet by the Ontario Public Service Employees Union argues that free trade "will require Canadian producers to be more competitive than ever", and that when competition intensifies, "business clamours for government restraint, lower taxes, and suitable incentives." This would mean increased demands for cuts in business taxes and government spending, lower wages and working conditions, cuts in public services, and attacks on unions all in the name of competitiveness. Among the effects on the public sector specifically would be strong pressure on the federal and provincial governments to imitate U.S. tax and spending policies; requirements that government programs be based entirely on so-called commercial considerations, so as to avoid countervailing duties against Canadian exports on the ground that they are subsidized; the prohibition of local, provincial, or national preference in choosing suppliers of government goods and services; and increased contracting out and privatization, in which U.S. companies will be invited to compete with Canadian companies. OPSEU sees free trade as a "Trojan horse" with which to attack the public sector, trade unions, and women's rights. The "level playing field" which U.S. officials constantly invoke is seen as a demand to play on their field, by their rules__i.e., the rules of Reaganite social and economic policies.