It would appear CUPE’s Water Watch campaign is having an impact on federal plans for infrastructure funding, but it’s not yet time to declare victory.
“Piece by piece, Finance Minister Martin’s testing different elements of his budget,” said National President Judy Darcy. “His latest balloon is a federal contribution of $500 million a year over five years for rebuilding water systems, roads and bridges.
“We applaud the idea, but this balloon won’t sail very high,” said Darcy. “The amount that’s being floated just isn’t enough.”
This past autumn, CUPE launched a national campaign to press the federal government to commit $2 billion annually to expand and upgrade public water and wastewater systems. When matched by provincial and municipal governments, this amount would generate the $6 billion annually the Canadian Water and Wastewater Association says must be invested in improving Canada’s water systems.
Between now and budget day, Darcy urged CUPE’s activists to press for a larger federal commitment for water and wastewater renewal and a guarantee the funds will be earmarked for publicly-owned and operated facilities and services.
“We don’t want these funds siphoned off into for-profit ventures where we subsidize corporations at a huge cost to taxpayers, communities and the environment,” she said.