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NORTH BATTLEFORD: The Canadian Union of Public Employees is launching a campaign this week against a water privatization proposal in North Battleford.

This spring U.S. Filter Canada, which is owned by the French multinational company Vivendi, approached the city with a proposal to enter into a public-private partnership to build and operate a new sewage treatment plant.

Were launching this campaign because were concerned that North Battleford city council is still refusing to reject the privatization option, said Barb Plews, president of CUPE Local 287, which represents 123 municipal workers including sewer and water plant operators. Since they havent yet ruled out the proposal, they still must be considering it.

Plews said members of the union local would be delivering a brochure, with an attached postcard, to every household in North Battleford today. Members of CUPEs provincial Municipal Workers Steering Committee will also be assisting with the drop.

CUPE is also running newspaper and radio ads and renting a billboard to raise awareness of the privatization threat. The union first outlined its concerns with the public-private partnership proposal in a presentation to city council in June.

The evidence from across the country shows that public-private partnerships dont save money, and often lead to higher user fees and a decline in service, said Plews. Theres also a loss of control and accountability with these kind of deals. We could be locked into a 15 or 20-year lease.

Plews said that North Battleford needs a new sewage treatment plant. But she said that public financing and operation would cost less and ensure local control of a vital resource.

The union is urging city council to pass a motion categorically rejecting the public-private partnership option. “Our members and families live and work in the community and want to help ensure the provision of good, clean drinking water,” said Plews.

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For more information contact Barb Plews at 445-6606