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The General Agreement on Trade in Services and Canadian Federalism: How Inter-Governmental Relations Exacerbate the Threat to Public Education

[journal article]

Keefe, Jennifer

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Abstract The General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) has been commonly acknowledged to have the potential to negatively affect the provision of public education. However, there has been an absence of literature analyzing the way in which Canadian federalism and the division of powers coupled with the GATS could serve to exacerbate the threat to public education at the primary and secondary school level. This paper begins by outlining the GATS provisions of non-discrimination, domestic regulation, and market access, and subsequently shows how the introduction of these provisions, should governments ‘opt-in’ on education, could serve to threaten public education, which has been identified by the United Nations as a basic human right. The final sections of this paper examine how the threat to public education posed by the GATS is exacerbated by intergovernmental relations, particularly regarding the consultative mechanism by which provinces’ policy preferences are conveyed during the negotiation of international trade agreements. While this mechanism allows provinces to apply GATS provisions to education to different extents, it can also serve to increase the pressure on governments to liberalize education by encouraging competition between provinces for revenue from private educational institutions. (author's abstract)
Keywords Canada; GATS; international agreement; service; political system; federalism; multi-level system; education system; public education; educational policy; educational opportunity; educational institution; competition
Classification Macroanalysis of the Education System, Economics of Education, Educational Policy; Economic Policy
Document language English
Publication Year 2008
Page/Pages p. 1-21
Journal Federal Governance, 5 (2008) 1
ISSN 1923-6158
Status Published Version; peer reviewed
Licence Basic Digital Peer Publishing Licence