The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario today called on voters to elect a government that will protect water as a public good and a fundamental human right.
Speaking just prior to a community forum in Sudbury on the issue of bottled water, union leader Fred Hahn said that allowing municipalities to remain cash-strapped because of provincially downloaded services is one more way to coerce them into selling off public services like water to private companies who see big profits in providing local services.
“With environmentalists predicting that water will be the new oil, private companies see water as a commodity for sale and trade, rather than as a public trust,” said Hahn, Secretary-Treasurer of CUPE Ontario. ”The Tories, who were responsible for the Walkerton tragedy, have no real plan to protect water. In fact, their agenda is to deregulate and commercialize all public services—everything from water to health care to hydro. The McGuinty Liberals also have no plan to protect water.”
Hahn says that the source of the problem is the former Tory government’s downloading of provincial services to municipalities without the funds to pay for them. “These costs are crushing municipalities from a financial perspective, and the McGuinty Liberals are doing nothing to reverse these disastrous policies. Only the NDP has committed to a comprehensive plan to upload these costs to the province. This is the best way for the provincial government to protect public services and goods at the municipal level from the profiteers.”
With aging municipal infrastructures and local governments strapped for cash, water companies are actively working to convince the province to reorganize water delivery in a way that will result in more public-private partnerships (P3s), more contracting out and more profits, says Wyman MacKinnon, President of CUPE 4705 and a sponsor along with the Polaris Institute of Sudbury’s community meeting on “Is Bottled Water Safe” held today.
“If the provincial government allows this trend to continue, we will see many services, from drinking water to waste management, to expensive infrastructure like sewers and watermains that were built with taxpayers’ dollars, sold off to the lowest bidder,” says MacKinnon. “Ontario voters have a choice in this election. Only the NDP are committed to protecting the public services that working families rely on.”
For further information, contact:
Valerie Dugale CUPE Communications 647-225-3685
Fred Hahn CUPE Ontario Secretary-Treasurer 416-540-3979
Wyman MacKinnon CUPE 4705 President 705-669-8526