The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, or CETA, being negotiated with the European Union would be an historic pact with broad dividends not only for the Canadian economy, but for the nation in general.
While many of the details in the agreement have been settled, one of the remaining issues said to be on the table is the matter of strengthening Canada’s protections for intellectual property. But the question still remains: Why is it important for Canada to have strong IP safeguards?
Quite simply, strong IP is important to drive continued innovation and development of the medicines and vaccines that help save Canadians’ lives.
Strong IP is important for encouraging research, and research is vitally important to protecting and improving Canadian health care. Strong IP makes Canada attractive to investors seeking to fund new discoveries.
But Canada has fallen behind. We’re attracting only one per cent of the annual $100 billion that is invested in pharmaceutical research globally.
The status quo is not an option.
Strong IP protections do work. They do encourage investment. History has proven just that.
In 1987, the Government of Canada embarked on a comprehensive effort to reform Canada’s economy and encourage innovation and investment. Part of that effort was strengthening patent protection.
That strategy worked.
Over the subsequent 25 years, investments in Canadian research increased by 1,500 per cent, leading to the discovery and development of new medicines that we rely on today to help save Canadians’ lives and improve their quality of life.
These discoveries have helped reduce breast cancer hospitalizations by 72 per cent, diabetes by 30 per cent, prostate cancer by 70 percent, and respiratory diseases by 45 per cent.
Innovative new medications have made it possible for Canadian HIV/AIDS patients to live longer, more productive lives. They can slow the progression of multiple sclerosis and are a critical tool in managing mental illness.
Vaccinations have saved more Canadian lives than any other health-care intervention over the past 50 years, and are widely recognized as the being among the best investments in health care in terms of cost savings and effectiveness.
Polio immunizations have saved Canada an estimated $3.3 billion in health-care costs since 1955 and vaccination against rotavirus infection prevents 4,300 hospitalizations per year, saving an estimated $30 million annually.
If the last 25 years have brought us this far, just imagine what might be possible over the next 25 years. What will it mean for people living with Alzheimer’s or battling the most aggressive cancers? What does continued innovation mean for them and their families? What might it mean for every one of us?
Put simply, we cannot stop innovating. The vast majority of Canadians agree — 76 per cent want to see Canada build a policy environment that protects IP at least to the same level as the United States and the EU, if not more.
By opening the doors to innovation, we improve the quality of life of all Canadians.
To learn more about the negotiations, and CETA, please read:
- The Joint Report on the EU-Canada Scoping Exercise (March 5, 2009)
For ongoing updates on the negotiations, you can also visit the Canadian department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, the federal department tasked with advancing the agreement.
We believe that CETA will deliver a powerful net benefit to Canada. But don’t take our word for it. Get informed.