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Saint John chapter tells trade committee TPP will increase drug costs, weaken food safety

Saint John chapter activist Leticia Adair

The Council of Canadians Saint John chapter presented to the House of Commons Standing Committee on International Trade today. The committee is visiting the Atlantic provinces this week seeking input on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

Chapter activists Leticia Adair (who is a registered nurse) and Paul Tippett (who is a family physician) told the committee that the TPP would have negative consequences for public health care and food safety policies in Canada.

Adair highlighted, “Your Committee has been briefed by Health Canada that acknowledged what health economists, academics and activists had been saying for some time: drug costs will rise under pending trade deals like the TPP. …If the TPP is ratified, many more Canadians will be experiencing these higher costs and these will represent a significant financial burden relative to their income level. And some additional individuals will be faced with the difficult choice between putting food on the table and taking necessary medications.”

She then asked, “Why would the Canadian government agree to the United States and multinational drug companies demands that will raise the price of medicines by further delaying price-lowering competition? We already have some of the highest per capita drug costs in the industrialized world.”

And Tippett noted, “We take safe food for granted, but we shouldn’t. With NAFTA and ‘harmonization’ of our food standards with rules from other places, there has been a deterioration of food safety in Canada. Federal inspectors and inspection services have been reduced in recent years. Food processing can take place far away from where it is eaten, and meats can be especially dangerous. …Weaker food safety standards in TPP countries will further threaten food safety in Canada.”

She cited as an example, “The TPP would open the Canadian market to US milk, as part of harmonizing dairy standards. Canada has banned recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone produced by Monsanto, while the US has not.”

The committee will be in Charlottetown tomorrow (September 27), then St. John’s on Wednesday, and Halifax on Thursday. Council of Canadians chapters will be present in these cities too to express their opposition to the TPP.

The signatory countries have set November 2017 as the deadline to ratify the deal.

For more on our campaign to stop the TPP, please click here.