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Across Canada and around the world, water activists are mobilizing to mark March 22, World Water Day. It’s an opportunity for CUPE members to recommit to protecting public water systems and community water resources.

In Canada, there is a new threat to our public water. Canada and the European Union are negotiating a new “Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement” (CETA) to be signed by the end of this year. This agreement puts Canada’s water up for sale.

At the request of Europe’s large private for-profit water corporations our governments are considering including drinking water and wastewater services under CETA . This would be the first time that Canada has allowed our drinking water to be fully covered under a trade treaty and if signed, CETA will open up public municipal water systems across Canada to privatization.

What’s worse, the proposed agreement may include a dispute resolution system that would give large European corporations the right to sue Canadian governments for public policies with which investors disagree. That means local governments may be effectively forced to privatize to avoid being hauled before a trade tribunal.

Canada’s water and wastewater services are vital to our communities and should not be put up for sale.

Canadians hold a great deal of trust in publicly owned, operated and delivered water and sanitation systems,” says CUPE National President Paul Moist. “Water and other essential services – such as health care, public transit, postal services and energy – are vital to our communities. This deal will allow the world’s largest multinational corporations to profit from Canada’s water.”

The United Nations has chosen to focus this year’s World Water Day on water for cities. In Canada our cities, towns and First Nations communities are struggling to support aging infrastructure and the demands of new environmental regulations which are undermining our public water and wastewater systems.

What’s needed is a commitment and investment from the federal government to solve these problems and strengthen our water infrastructure. Instead, they’ve chosen to put water at risk through underfunding and trade agreements.

  • To learn more about CETA and the impact on Canada’s public water, visit cupe.ca/ceta.