Drug costs are going to rise, municipalities will lose the ability to procure goods and services locally and basic necessities like drinking water will fall into foreign ownership.
Those are some of the dire warnings the local chapter of the Council of Canadians issued for Islanders at a press conference in Charlottetown on Thursday.
Leo Broderick, vice-chair of the P.E.I. chapter, showed up at the event with some help: the Canadian Labour Congress, Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) and the P.E.I. Health Coalition were all on hand to speak out against the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the European Union.
Broderick said the federal government is spreading misinformation about CETA and how it will boost both the national and provincial economies.
"We want to take about CETA deception,'' Broderick said.
He dismissed the federal government's line that CETA would boost Canada's gross domestic product by $12 billion annually. According to Ottawa, that's the equivalent to creating nearly 80,000 new jobs or adding $1,000 to the average Canadian family's income.
"That is false information," he added before criticizing Island MP Gail Shea for going along with the message.
Broderick said the P.E.I. government is "party to this agreement'' because it has been so quiet. The Liberal government has included gambling and betting services in its list of protected items under CETA but Broderick said water services, such as drinking water and wastewater, were left out.
"That is a major cause for concern . . . the premier is betraying Islanders.''
Mary Boyd, representing the P.E.I. Health Coalition, says the trade deal threatens Medicare.
Boyd says Europe, on behalf of the big pharmaceutical companies, is pushing Canada to lengthen the period of its monopoly drug patents and delay the availability of lower-priced generic drugs. The proposed changes would add almost $3 billion annually to Canada's drug bill.
"That money should be going into sustainable health care, not going to corporations. That money will come out of provincial health budgets. We need access to affordable medication,'' Boyd said.
She added that the EU is also demanding Canada weaken NAFTA protections that shield Canada's health care system from international trade deals.
Toni Tracey, with the P.E.I. Federation of Labour, said the trade agreement will prohibit municipalities from putting 'buy local' or 'buy Canadian' preferences on contracts or requiring that bidders use some portion of local or Canadian goods, services or labour.
"It would have a massive impact,'' Tracey said.
He cited one example of a person who works at CFB Greenwood in Nova Scotia buying apples two years ago at the store that had been shipped in from Australia despite the fact they are grown in mass quantities in nearby Annapolis Valley.
Lori MacKay, representing CUPE, said the deal is eroding P.E.I. and Canada's powers.
"CETA will fundamentally reshape Canada,'' MacKay said.