The head of the union representing Canada’s trade workers says the new NAFTA is a much-needed improvement to the original deal, but there’s no need to rush the ratification process.

“Ultimately, this NAFTA deal is a heck of a lot better than the one that was signed 25 years ago. Is it perfect? No. But it’s certainly a step in the right direction,” Unifor National President Jerry Dias said in an interview with BNN Bloomberg Wednesday. 

On Tuesday, the U.S. House Democrats announced plans to sign the updated trade agreement, in what was seen as a major step forward toward ratification. However, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell indicated his chamber won’t vote until 2020, and the deal still has to be ratified in Canada under a minority government.                                                                        

“I listened to a lot of the politicians saying that the sky was falling to hurry up and sign the deal — that would have been a colossal mistake,” he said.

“I don’t see any rush here while the U.S. is still debating internally. This shouldn’t be a race to the finish line for no particular reason.”

He added that the drawn-out process to reach an agreement, which began in August 2017, led to getting “the best deal possible.”

“Waiting has not caused us any problems, so I wouldn’t rush into it,” he said.  

Dias, who said low labour standards in Mexico has been “the elephant in the room” over the last 25 years, notes the improvements made to wage standards and tougher rules of origin for auto manufacturers are meaningful.

“This new NAFTA really deals with labour standards in Mexico in a serious and significant way,” he said.

However, Dias noted there are still issues that need to be discussed such as rules of origin for aluminum and removing softwood lumber tariffs imposed by the U.S.