CUPE joined forces with the Council of Canadians and various Canadian faith-based organizations to mobilize thousands of Canadians on World Water Day, March 22.
The day was marked by protests at home and abroad against the growing trend to privatization of water services and the commercialization of this basic human necessity.
Through marches and public events held in 60 cities across Canada, organizations demanded that the federal government ensure public control of water resources both in Canada and around the world.
In Welland, Ont., for example, regional councillors unanimously supported a motion calling on the Canadian government to urge the World Bank to ensure access to clean, affordable water for the world’s poor. The motion also supported a stronger role for the public sector and individual communities in setting water policies and delivering and regulating water services. The motion was presented by the local chapter of the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace.
“Public private partnerships take the delivery and management of water services out of the hands of municipal governments, resulting in poorer quality services at higher costs and lack of local control,” said CUPE national president Paul Moist.
“The issues surrounding water have struck a chord with Canadians,” added Development and Peace executive director Michael Casey. “They know that safeguarding water as a common good is essential to our well-being and must take priority over commercial interests.”
CUPE and its partner organizations are calling on the federal government to help prevent a worldwide water crisis by creating a national water policy. It would ban the export of water, create national standards for clean drinking water and commit federal funds to help municipalities and Aboriginal communities upgrade water infrastructure.
The groups also demand that the Canadian government protect water by defending it as a human right. On two occasions, the Canadian government has formally opposed moves by the United Nations to enshrine the right to water in international law.