SAINT JOHN, NB – The majority of Saint John voters don’t want a corporation involved in delivering drinking water services, according to a new poll.
The poll, conducted by Continuum Research for the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), found that 62 per cent of Saint John voters oppose a private, for-profit corporation delivering the city’s drinking water treatment services. That feeling is held intensely, with 45 per cent of voters strongly opposed.
The results come as voters prepare to cast their ballots in the May 14 municipal election. The city is considering entering into a public-private partnership (P3) that would hand unprecedented control of the city’s drinking water services to a private corporation.
Support for the P3 is very weak, with only 23 per cent of voters in favour – just nine per cent strongly.
“This sends a clear message to all the candidates. Water is essential to life, and is too precious to trust to a corporation motivated by profit,” said CUPE New Brunswick President Daniel Légère. “Saint John’s drinking water system needs to be expanded and upgraded, but voters want this vital service to stay in public hands.”
The poll found 38 per cent of voters are less likely to choose candidates who favour the P3. Only 15 per cent of respondents are more likely to support a candidate who is in favour of the P3. Residents who are most likely to vote in the upcoming election are also more likely to strongly oppose the P3.
“It’s time to shine a spotlight on this crucial issue. All candidates in the election must tell Saint John voters where they stand. Experience from around the world shows that when corporations deliver water services for profit, citizens pay the price. Costs rise, accountability drops and quality can be threatened,” said Légère.
“The federal Conservative government is pushing P3s on municipalities like Saint John, through its agency PPP Canada. Our local representatives should stand up for public water. Together, we can solve Saint John’s drinking water needs without handing away control of our water for decades to come,” concluded Légère.
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President, CUPE NB