NAFTA Means US “Big Box” Daycare Chains Can Get Canadian Taxpayers’ Dollars

NAFTA Means US “Big Box” Daycare Chains Can Get Canadian Taxpayers’ Dollars: A legal opinion for Canadian Union of Public Employees CUPE) says because of NAFTA daycare must be STATE-RUN not just state-funded to keep out US chains. Another legal opinion (dowload PDF here) refutes CUPE lawyers:

Dec 1, 2004. Cassels Brock Lawyers – memo (PDF): “RE: Child Care Services and Canada’s Trade Obligations

Subsidizing daycare directly attracts foreign daycare chains looking for profit at the expense of Canadian taxpayers. CUPE lawyers say government can prevent this by making daycare a “public system”—like public schools (or it could be prevented by funding parents directly rather than daycare centres). Yet daycare lobbyists have long claimed they want a government funded, NOT a government-RUN system.

However, the horse has left the barn and big box daycare—including US giant Kindercare—is already here. Let us wait for the NAFTA challenges to come.

Legal opinion for CUPE by Sach, Goldblatt, Michell

Establishing a National System of Early Learning and Child Care in Light of Canada’s Obligations Under NAFTA and the WTO (Nov. 2004. Sack Goldblatt Mitchell)

Highlights from the 2004 legal opinion:

4. …the prudent course is for Canadian governments to establish ECEC programs as public not-for-profit endeavours. [ie state-run, not just state-funded]

5. Furthermore, the risk of a trade challenge or foreign investor claim is negligible so long as there is no significant foreign investment in the child care sector. But without the protection afforded by NAFTA and WTO reservations, governments will not be able to limit investment by foreign child care companies that are likely to be attracted by increased and stable public funding.

6. For these reasons the most effective strategy for preserving policy flexibility concerning ECEC is to minimize or eliminate the delivery of child care services by commercial or for-profit providers. Conversely, creating a system that allows commercial child care companies to acquire a significant stake in the system represents high-risk behavior that significantly increases exposure to trade complaints and foreign investor claims.

7. …The Federal government’s apparent openness to making trade commitments under the WTO services agreement (GATS) concerning education services it considers to be non-public, further underscores the importance of ensuring that a national ECEC program be established as a public system.