TORONTO – Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne says she supports the tentative free trade agreement between Canada and the European Union.
She says she does have some concerns about how some provisions will affect Ontario, but she won’t block the deal.
Economic Development and Trade Minister Eric Hoskins says the federal government has committed to compensating the dairy sector should the deal affect their bottom line.
He says Ottawa has also promised to compensate the province for any additional cost to the health-care system that may result from the extension of patents for some brand-name drugs.
The patent extension could increase drug costs for the provinces because it would take longer for cheaper, generic versions to become available.
But Hoskins says he’s not heard back about compensation for Ontario’s wine and spirits industry, which could be affected by the lowering of fees on European wines.
He says the fees, which are only applied in Ontario, are charged to European manufacturers for handling, warehousing and distribution of their wines.
Ontario is being asked to charge the fee based on volume, rather than per bottle, which could lower the price of more expensive European wines.
“We haven’t received that assurance,” he said.
Finance Minister Charles Sousa will be asking for a meeting with his federal counterpart Jim Flaherty to talk about it, Hoskins said.
But it’s still an agreement in principle, so it could be years before the free trade deal is finalized and comes into force, he said.
“So in that ensuing period, there’s a lot of work for Ontario to continue to do with our federal counterparts to ensure that we have the assurances that we need and that we do mitigate and minimize the potential negative impact on Ontario sectors,” Hoskins said.
The agreement in principle has to be approved by 10 Canadian provinces and all 28 members of the European Union.
© The Canadian Press, 2013