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Faced with one of the largest privatization schemes in Canada, CUPE kicked off its campaign to keep Halifax’s Harbour Clean-Up project in public hands.

“Multinational corporations are anxious to get their hands on Canada’s water and wastewater systems,” said National representative Larry Power. “Their latest and biggest target is Halifax Harbour.”More than 43 billion litres of raw sewage is dumped into Halifax Harbour every year. After hundreds of years with little wastewater treatment the municipality has invited proposals from three private-sector firms to design, build, own and operate four new sewage treatment plants.

“Clearly we need treatment plants and it’s about time that something is done. But looking to the private sector to own and operate them is not a solution,” said Power.

Privately operated plants will cost more, leading to price hikes for ratepayers. The health and safety of the citizens of Halifax could be at risk as corners are cut to increase profits, and the municipality will lose control over how the facilities are maintained.

To ensure that Halifax’s future treatment plants are operated safely and effectively, CUPE has joined with the Council of Canadians and the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour to demand they remain in public hands. The coalition is also calling on federal and provincial governments to help finance the project.

As well as running ads on the radio, CUPE members will also reach out to the community. The campaign will include information tables in malls and flea markets, a lobby of local politicians, petitions and a presentation to council.