Evidence of meeting #12 for International Trade in the 43rd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was cusma.

A video is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Eddy Peréz  International Policy Analyst, Climate Action Network Canada
Kevin Jacobi  Executive Director, CanadaBW Logistics Inc.
Jim Tully  Executive Vice-President, DECAST
Brian P. McGuire  President and Chief Executive Officer, Associated Equipment Distributors
Greg Johnston  President, Songwriters Association of Canada
Angella MacEwen  Senior Economist, National Services, Canadian Union of Public Employees
Garry Neil  Cultural Policy Consultant, Neil Craig Associates
Bob Fay  Director, Global Economy Research and Policy, Centre for International Governance Innovation
Ken Kalesnikoff  Chief Executive Officer, Kalesnikoff Lumber Co. Ltd.
Linda Hasenfratz  Chief Executive Officer, Linamar Corporation
Andy Rielly  President and Owner, Rielly Lumber Inc.
Kevin Young  Chief Executive Officer, Woodtone Industries
Mike Beck  Operations Manager, Capacity Forest Management
William Waugh  President, WWW Timber Products Ltd.
Patrick Leblond  As an Individual
Francis Schiller  Advisor, Woodtone Industries

6:05 p.m.

Liberal

Sukh Dhaliwal Liberal Surrey—Newton, BC

When you were dealing with this CUSMA situation particularly, how did you feel? Were you included? Was the government proactive, or did you have to call for it? That's what I want to know.

6:05 p.m.

Senior Economist, National Services, Canadian Union of Public Employees

Angella MacEwen

Absolutely, the government—the public servants who were responsible for setting negotiating priorities and doing negotiations—reached out and met with labour as a group. They met with civil society as a group. Then they said that if you wanted to reach out with regard to a particular topic, if you have questions about the services chapter or the regulatory co-operation chapter, you could ask to meet with specific negotiators. They were very generous with their time.

6:05 p.m.

Liberal

Sukh Dhaliwal Liberal Surrey—Newton, BC

So, you met with any of the negotiators.

6:10 p.m.

Senior Economist, National Services, Canadian Union of Public Employees

Angella MacEwen

Whomever we wanted to meet with—

6:10 p.m.

Liberal

Sukh Dhaliwal Liberal Surrey—Newton, BC

You got your....

6:10 p.m.

Senior Economist, National Services, Canadian Union of Public Employees

Angella MacEwen

—we got to meet.

6:10 p.m.

Liberal

Sukh Dhaliwal Liberal Surrey—Newton, BC

So, you were happy. Do you think more progress can be made in the future?

6:10 p.m.

Senior Economist, National Services, Canadian Union of Public Employees

Angella MacEwen

Absolutely. There can be more progress in terms of making that process mandatory so that it's not a one-off, including legislators, and making the impact assessment earlier on.

As for the United States, it's actually in their fast-track legislation; there are timelines for when the impact assessment has to be delivered to Congress. As it is now, we were included in the discussion, so that ended up getting us a better deal than we could have gotten otherwise. The labour chapter in particular was much improved by discussions with labour groups. However, we can't make any changes now. It's too late.

6:10 p.m.

Liberal

Sukh Dhaliwal Liberal Surrey—Newton, BC

It's done now. The CUSMA—

6:10 p.m.

Senior Economist, National Services, Canadian Union of Public Employees

Angella MacEwen

But there was no opportunity between the signing of the deal and its ratification to give any more feedback, as happened in the U.S.

6:10 p.m.

Liberal

Sukh Dhaliwal Liberal Surrey—Newton, BC

Okay.

6:10 p.m.

Senior Economist, National Services, Canadian Union of Public Employees

Angella MacEwen

That's just the difference in our process.

6:10 p.m.

Liberal

Sukh Dhaliwal Liberal Surrey—Newton, BC

Overall, do you think it's a win-win situation for workers and not just, as it's always been, for businesses?

6:10 p.m.

Senior Economist, National Services, Canadian Union of Public Employees

Angella MacEwen

No. I think it's still a failed trade model that doesn't benefit workers. It benefits the most powerful and hurts the least powerful. There is no distributional impact here on how this trade deal will affect people who have a lot of money and power versus people who don't.

However, as trade deals go, we were met with and listened to, and there were changes made based on our input, which was nice.

6:10 p.m.

Liberal

Sukh Dhaliwal Liberal Surrey—Newton, BC

I'm glad to hear that.

Do I still have time? Okay.

My next question is for the Associated Equipment Distributors.

Mr. McGuire, is this agreement only going to help the equipment manufacturers in the U.S., or is it equally going to help the equipment manufacturers in Canada?

6:10 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Associated Equipment Distributors

Brian P. McGuire

We believe that the agreement helps both distributors and manufacturers in both countries.

6:10 p.m.

Liberal

Sukh Dhaliwal Liberal Surrey—Newton, BC

Yesterday, there were equipment manufacturers from Saskatchewan who came in. They were saying that there are certain new requirements that the U.S. brought forward that are going to negatively affect their manufacturing. Are you aware of situations like that?

6:10 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Associated Equipment Distributors

Brian P. McGuire

I'm not personally aware of a situation like that. I'd have to research that.

I can tell you that our members have not indicated that, from the equipment standpoint on the manufacturing or the distribution side.

6:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Judy Sgro

Thank you very much, Mr. Dhaliwal.

We'll go on to Mr. Kram.

February 26th, 2020 / 6:10 p.m.

Conservative

Michael Kram Conservative Regina—Wascana, SK

Thank you, Madam Chair.

Ms. MacEwen, you spoke of the importance of an independent analysis of trade agreements. I very much agree with that statement. There was an independent analysis by the C.D. Howe Institute that was released last week. They had a few conclusions in that analysis. They said that, as a result of the new NAFTA agreement, Canada's GDP would go down by $14.2 billion. Exports to the United States from Canada would go down by $3.2 billion, and imports to Canada from the United States will go up by $8.6 billion. When we got the economic impact assessment from the government earlier today, it said that the agreement was fantastic, because all the numbers were going up. The reason for that is the businesses' usual case in the government's assessment was not the old NAFTA agreement, but having no free trade agreement at all with the United States or Mexico.

Given the importance of this information, I'm wondering what can be done to ensure that CUPE members and civil servants in general can always provide important, accurate, honest information to both politicians and to the public as a whole?

6:10 p.m.

Senior Economist, National Services, Canadian Union of Public Employees

Angella MacEwen

That's a very good question.

I think it's good that there is the C.D. Howe estimate so that we can compare that with the government estimate and show what the different assumptions were. Often, whenever you're doing economic analysis, it really depends what your assumptions were. You're going to get very different answers. Just having one headline is often not useful to having an honest understanding of what the impact of the deal would be. Making the data available and transparent as to how they arrived at their decision—making the model they used publicly available and allowing others to run the model—might be something to do.

I think moving it to the parliamentary budget office or something like that would also be helpful in improving that transparency. I don't think we want to rely on the C.D. Howe Institute or other groups to have to do that every time. I do think it's useful that they did. I'm glad they did, because it highlights that the choices you make in your modelling really matter.

6:15 p.m.

Conservative

Michael Kram Conservative Regina—Wascana, SK

We also heard earlier today that the high-level economic analyses of this new NAFTA have been going on since at least September 2017. What can be done to ensure that even this high-level analysis can be released to the public and to politicians earlier than it has been? Preferably it would be earlier than today, as was the case.

6:15 p.m.

Senior Economist, National Services, Canadian Union of Public Employees

Angella MacEwen

Absolutely. In the U.S., it was released over a year ago, I think. Having that information available to the public and allowing people to make that.... I understand that is what happened under the original NAFTA. Information was made public and people understood and had the data available that they needed to be able to model differences. For example, if we did what we did on autos, which made a big difference, and you could model how that's going to play out, it really matters what behavioural assumptions you've made in something like that.

I understand that with trade deals there is often secrecy, but having the models out there in the public domain and having the data you need to run your own simulations of it would be quite useful.

6:15 p.m.

Conservative

Michael Kram Conservative Regina—Wascana, SK

Okay. Thank you so much.

That's all, Madam Chair.

6:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Judy Sgro

You have 40 seconds, Mr. Kram.