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A national water policy and a clear commitment from all three levels of government are needed to protect Canadians’ right to water, says a declaration released today from this weekend’s Blue Summit, a national conference on water issues hosted by the Council of Canadians and the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE).

The declaration was signed by a number of groups from across the country, with more signatures expected in the coming months.

“Our elected leaders manage water resources on our behalf as a public trust,” said Council of Canadians National Chairperson Maude Barlow. “But although our country has abundant natural resources, Canada is actually facing freshwater shortages. It’s clear that we need more than talk - we need a concrete commitment from governments that our water will be protected for future generations.”

A major challenge to Canada’s water security is the privatization of our water infrastructure, with for-profit treatment companies, new water markets in Alberta, and the bottled water industry assuming greater control of Canada’s water resources and services.

“Water is a public resource, not an economic commodity,” said CUPE National President Paul Moist. “Our right to access drinkable water and quality sewage treatment shouldn’t be neglected by governments, and our water resources and services must not be sacrificed for private profits.”

The summit declaration states that Canada needs a national water policy “that recognizes water as a human right and a public trust; safeguards water resources from industrial abuse; and guarantees adequate funding for water services, watershed planning and management and the necessary science to protect water quantity and quality.”

The declaration also calls on federal, provincial and municipal governments to:

  • Recognize the water rights of Aboriginal communities and work with First Nations to end the on-reserve water and sanitation crisis.
  • Ensure public ownership, operation and delivery of water and sanitation services through a federal water infrastructure fund.
  • Establish pan-Canadian enforceable drinking water standards.
  • Protect water from global market exploitation by excluding it from NAFTA and all future trade agreements.
  • Map and protect groundwater resources by declaring it a public trust.

To read the entire declaration, visit: www.cupe.ca/water/blue-summit-declaration