#24. Require all trade agreements to include strong and enforceable labour provisions

Canada is a trading nation. However, preferential trade arrangements, including free trade agreements, investment pacts and others, for the past 30 years have grown neither Canada’s auto industry nor improved autoworkers’ wages and working conditions. Instead, free trade-led globalization has emboldened multinational automakers to extend supply chains over longer distances and secure greater profits by shifting production to low-cost jurisdictions. For the most part, trade agreements provide workers with little to no recourse to combat these exploitative practices. However, changes to the NAFTA implemented in 2020 marked a significant shift in how labour protections can intersect with free trade. Under the new North American trade pact, CUSMA, employers face severe penalties if they deny workers’ right to free collective bargaining and union organizing, up to and including a ban on exports. Mexican workers at the GM truck plant in Silao successfully organized an independent union in February 2022, breaking from a decades-old protection agreement that trampled autoworkers’ rights. The independent union was organized after the United States government invoked the special labour protections and threatened sanctions under CUSMA. All trade arrangements entered into by Canada must include terms that obligate both governments and employers to adhere to international labour standards, including the right to free and fair collective bargaining, terms backed by fully enforceable conditions that are accessible to workers.