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8 December 1999

CUPE Launches Campaign for a National Water Infrastructure Program

Ottawa - The price of water in Canada will increase substantially without a federal government investment of $2 billion a year to upgrade water systems across the country, according to the Canadian Union of Public Employees, which today launched a campaign for a National Water Infrastructure Program.

“Huge off-shore corporations are waiting to bail out cash-strapped municipal governments and take control of water and waste facilities across Canada, which are badly in need of repair. When that happens, the record shows prices will go through the roof,” says Judy Darcy, National President of CUPE, Canada’s largest union.

A handful of large, multinational corporations already own or control water facilities in France and Britain. Once in control, these companies have drastically increased prices, violated environmental standards and cut deeply into the workforce.

“Prices have soared through the roof when private sector corporations took over the water system in Britain. There have been many instances of people having to go without,” said Dave Hall, a water expert from the UK.

“We are urging the federal government to invest $2 billion in each of the next five years in a National Water Infrastructure Program to upgrade water systems across Canada and protect the public interest,” said Darcy in launching the campaign.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees is taking their campaign message to Parliament Hill today during meetings with government and opposition MPs. The campaign message is being delivered to the public through billboard and print advertising, and 1 million Canadian households will receive campaign information by mail.

“The concept of ‘expensive’ water is totally foreign in Canada. But the public understands what happens to prices when huge corporate interests own commodities like gasoline. Canadians want to keep water a public resource,” said Darcy.

It is estimated that $100 billion is required over the next 20 years to upgrade and expand water and wastewater treatment facilities in Canada.

CUPE is urging the federal government to renew the Canadian infrastructure program introduced by the Liberal government in 1994, refining it to give priority to water infrastructure. A $2.4 billion federal investment in that program generated more than $8 billion worth of infrastructure investments and created 130,000 jobs.

For information click the following links:

Jim Thompson (613) 567-9592 or (613) 223-4256 (cellular)
Catherine Louli (613) 237-1590, ext. 268 or (613) 851-0547 (cellular)

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