Nurses urge caution about inter-provincial trade agreements

    TORONTO, Feb. 25 /CNW/ - The Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario
(RNAO) is warning the province of Ontario against negotiating trade agreements
that water down health, safety and labour standards.
    Today, the association released a copy of a letter it sent to Premier
Dalton McGuinty urging his government to reject the Trade, Investment and
Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA) and to ensure that future trade agreements
such as the one Ontario is negotiating with Quebec do not contain trade
practices that promote privatization and take aim against Medicare and
measures to protect peoples' health.
    "British Columbia and Alberta have signed onto TILMA and there is
pressure for Ontario to sign on as well," says RNAO President Mary
Ferguson-Pare. "This agreement is potentially devastating because it's being
promoted as a harmless effort to reduce inter-provincial trade barriers when
it's really a means to harmonize health, safety and employment standards to
their lowest common denominator. Quite simply, TILMA could be read as a
corporate bill of rights," adds Ferguson-Pare.
    RNAO Executive Director Doris Grinspun says it also could threaten
Medicare and other social programs because "it has the potential of allowing
private interests to sue governments for any measures that restrict
profit-making. If Ontario were to join TILMA or similar agreements, it could
mean pesticide companies in other provinces might be able to sue jurisdictions
in Ontario that have passed pesticide by-laws."
    "Nurses are concerned about this and we believe citizens should be too.
We encourage people in Ontario to learn more about the implications of these
kinds of trade agreements and to write to Premier McGuinty about their
concerns," adds Grinspun.
    Members of the public can read RNAO's open letter to the premier and
learn more about the Trade Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA) by

    The Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO) is the professional
association representing registered nurses wherever they practise in Ontario.
Since 1925, RNAO has lobbied for healthy public policy, promoted excellence in
nursing practice, increased nurses' contribution to shaping the health-care
system, and influenced decisions that affect nurses and the public they serve.

For further information:

For further information: Marion Zych, Director of Communications, RNAO,
Phone: (416) 408-5605, Toll free: 1-800-268-7199 ext.209, Cell: (647)

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