Public Values

World Water Day celebrated across Canada

Union promotes public–public partnerships.

More than 110 First Nations communities do not have access to clean drinking waterTo mark World Water Day on March 22, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) issued the following statement:

Today, water activists are mobilizing to mark World Water Day. It's an opportunity to re–energize CUPE's work protecting public water systems and community water resources.

Our union has a long history of stopping water privatization by building grassroots coalitions. When we come together — workers, environmentalists, citizens' groups, indigenous organizations, faith groups, young and old — we are unbeatable. Just look at the recently–opened water treatment plant in Vancouver, or Whistler's new state–of–the–art sewage treatment system. Both remain public thanks to community activism against privatization.

Last fall's Blue Summit celebrated a decade of our Water Watch coalition with the Council of Canadians. The summit declaration outlines our collective vision for public water resources and services.

  "Another threat is the proposed trade agreement between Canada and the European Union, which is backed by the European water multinationals. This deal could open public procurement of services — including water and wastewater — to foreign corporations."

At home and around the globe, privatization, underfunding, pollution, and international trade agreements are roadblocks to building and strengthening public water services.

Federal funding for community infrastructure, including water, hasn't kept pace with growing needs in Canadian cities and towns. The federal government and several provinces are pushing P3s by attaching strings to public funding and through a federal privatization agency — PPP Canada Inc.

But in the wake of the economic and financial crisis it's crystal clear that P3s for water infrastructure and services don't work.

CUPE is also concerned about the state of water and sanitation services in some First Nations communities. More than 110 First Nations communities are living with undrinkable water. In some cases, they endure tainted, polluted and unsafe water for years. This violates a basic human right, and is a national disgrace.

Another threat is the proposed trade agreement between Canada and the European Union, which is backed by the European water multinationals. This deal could open public procurement of services — including water and wastewater — to foreign corporations. It would give corporations new rights and erodes the ability of governments to regulate in the public interest.

Finally, Canada must do its part to end the global water crisis. This begins with Prime Minister Stephen Harper reversing Canada's opposition to the right to water at the United Nations. Upholding this right and giving developing–world governments the resources to fulfill it will help lift millions in the global South out of poverty, especially women and children.

We encourage CUPE members to get active on these and other water issues in their communities this World Water Day.

Promoting public sector alternatives is as important as fighting privatization. We know that public works best for our water and wastewater systems. Through innovative new initiatives such as public–public partnerships, we will continue to show that privatization is no solution.

Together, in CUPE and with our allies, we will continue to protect water resources and services — for future generations, and for the planet. Public water is a human right!

Links and sources
  Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) water resources page

Posted: March 24, 2010

  Public services
  Natural resources
  Front lines
  Voices of privatization

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