Montréal, May 30, 2016
The Honourable Chrystia Freeland
Minister of International Trade
House of Commons
Subject: Request to Exclude the Education Sector From the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA)
Given Canada’s participation in the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) negotiations, the Fédération québécoise des professeures et professeurs d’université (FQPPU) urges the Canadian government to make every effort to ensure that education is explicitly excluded from the scope of this agreement.
According to limited information from the negotiations that are being held in the utmost secrecy, no service sectors, from the outset, have been excluded from the TISA, which aims to liberalize trade in services and establish legally binding rules to prevent governments from practising what could be considered discrimination between public and private service providers. The FQPPU is very concerned that public services such as education, higher education, and health care will be included in the agreement, either directly or indirectly, resulting in increased pressure to commercialize and privatize these sectors.
Through document leaks from the current negotiations, we have learned that a number of countries have proposed to include private education services in the agreement. However, the rules related to market access could restrict countries’ abilities to limit entry to their territory and to regulate the activities of private and for-profit organizations. Governments would therefore not be able to favour their own public institutions, nor intervene to impose standards to ensure the quality of the education services being offered.
Given that the parties will be examining new proposals in the coming months and that they hope to accelerate the negotiation process, the FQPPU is committed to alerting the Canadian government to the potential risks of including education in the TISA. We expect the federal government to withstand pressures to do so and to affirm that education is a human right and a public good, and that it is its responsibility and that of provincial governments to protect and defend it through measures that promote accessible, high-quality teaching at all levels, from primary education to higher education.
Madam Minister, we trust that we can count on your steadfast commitment to working to exclude education from the TISA.
Hélène David, Minister responsible for Higher Education
Sébastien Proulx, Minister of Education, Recreation and Sports
Fred van Leeuwen, Education International General Secretary