Ontario creates Council on U.S. Trade and Industry Competitiveness
Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade and Unifor president Jerry Dias will work together to appoint additional membership to the Council.
The Ontario government has created a new council that aims to give advice and recommendations about rallying business leaders, elected officials and labour leaders to protect the province’s rights under trade agreements.
Called the Premier’s Council on U.S. Trade and Industry Competitiveness, the council will be chaired by Unifor national president Jerry Dias. In a Dec. 9 news release, Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, said that his office will work with Dias in the coming days to appoint additional membership to the Council.
“I am proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with Jerry Dias as we work together to protect an integrated economy that employs millions of workers on both sides of the border,” said Premier Doug Ford. “At a time when we’re on the cusp of unleashing the full potential of Ontario’s auto sector as we build an economy that will compete globally, now is not the time to rip up decades of cooperation and put workers on both sides of the border at risk.”
Currently, the U.S. Congress is debating protectionist measures that the Ontario government says would threaten industries across the province, including auto, lumber, steel, agriculture, and more. “Of particular importance, these measures would impact auto agreements that began in 1965 with the Auto Pact, were solidified in 1994 by NAFTA and re-affirmed in 2020 with the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement,” the news release said.
“If Ontario were a country, we would be the third largest trading partner to the United States,” said Minister Fedeli. “The fact is, Ontario is a critical partner to more than half the states of the union. This new Council, with the full support of our government, will continue to advocate for Ontario against unfair Buy American policies by highlighting the cost of protectionism to businesses on both sides of the border and promoting a Buy North American approach to our auto sector.”
“We are at a critical juncture in our relationship with the United States, with coordinated action between government and labour urgently needed to protect jobs and the economy,” Dias said in the news release. “Unifor represents members in multiple sectors that rely on integrated trade with America. I look forward to leading this new Council to find solutions on behalf of our members and of all workers across Ontario.”
According to the news release, the Council will partner with Ontario’s Agents-Generals and other representatives in the U.S., along with the federal government.