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KIRKLAND LAKE The union representing water treatment specialists and physical services workers at Kirkland Lake’s waterworks department warned area residents today their elected representatives are about to bring in an outside agency to run the local waterworks.

“Plans are under way at the local utility to bring in an outside manager from Ontario Clean Water Agency (OCWA), a crown agency of the Ontario government, instead of filling a vacant position locally potentially raising costs and eliminating local jobs, without consulting the public,” warned Bob Rosicki, president of Local 26 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE).

“The real threat to the people of Kirkland Lake is the loss of local accountability and direct municipal control,” says Jo-Ann Breton, CUPE National Representative.

“People will want to ask councillors and the mayor why they are doing this instead of recruiting an operator to work for the utility and keep local control of our water,” adds Rosicki.

CUPE warned that contracting out the work will not allow the municipality to escape responsibility or liability for the town’s drinking water. Other concerns are cost increases and uncertainty over the future of the municipally owned utility.

“We have a long tradition of providing safe, clean drinking water to Kirkland Lake residents, and we want to keep that tradition going with locally employed, directly accountable employees,” says Rosicki. “This change in management is being planned while keeping residents in the dark and we urge residents to contact their elected representatives and tell them to keep local, directly accountable control of our water treatment system.”

CUPE and local water and environmental activists recently prevented Toronto City Council from establishing an arms-length board to run Toronto’s waterworks, thanks to local education campaigns and pressure from local residents on city councillors to scrap the plan. CUPE, Canada’s largest union with over half a million members, has successfully fought back plans for privatization and contracting out of other public services in municipalities and in other sectors across Canada.


For further information, please contact:
Jo-Ann Breton, CUPE National Rep.
Bob Rosicki, Local 26 president
Robert Lamoureux, CUPE Communications