Protecting cross-border labour tops Windsor-Essex list of recommendations for NAFTA

Five recommendations for NAFTA negotiations that consider the unique needs of Windsor-Essex have been sent to government officials ahead of the eighth round of trade talks.

List of five recommendations has been sent to provincial and federal officials

Stakeholders in Windsor-Essex have compiled a list of recommendations for the ongoing NAFTA negotiations. (Melissa Nakhavoly/CBC)

Five recommendations for NAFTA negotiations that consider the unique needs of Windsor-Essex have been sent to government officials ahead of the eighth round of trade talks.

Workforce Windsor Essex and the NAFTA Working Group released the recommendations Thursday after conducting 151 local surveys and consulting with area stakeholders.

"There are a lot of big national issues out there that are being debated by national associations and experts from all three countries," said Justin Falconer, senior manager of public affairs with Workforce Windsor Essex. "What we wanted to do is present a report about our local perspective living on a border." 

The recommendations include: 

  1. Recognize the importance of Canada-U.S. trade interdependence
  2. Recognize Canada's automotive sector as a key priority throughout NAFTA renegotiations
  3. Protect existing mechanisms that promote cross-border labour mobility 
  4. Increase opportunities for cross-border experiential learning
  5. Support the region's global economic competitiveness

Falconer said his priority based on the recommendations is to make sure the importance of cross-border labour is addressed. 

"Labour mobility is going to be huge for us. We live on the border of one of the biggest marketplaces of anyone — one hour drive time, and there's a huge number of people, there's a economic opportunity for our people," he explained. "We want to make sure that Windsorites and people living in Essex can continue to cross that border and continue to show up for work everyday."

Five local governments have endorsed the resolutions highlighting the importance of Canada's automotive sector.

Essex County Warden Tom Bain and Tecumseh Mayor Gary McNamara were present when the reccomendations were announced.

"There's tens of thousands of people employed in advanced manufacturing that are really dependent on the border and making sure products are moving at a timely fashion," said McNamara, adding agricultural businesses in the county ship 80 per cent of their products to the U.S.

The report has been sent to federal and provincial officials.


Melissa Nakhavoly is a journalist with CBC Windsor News.