Dwindling access to drinking water on Canadian university campuses: Report



    OTTAWA, Sept. 2 /CNW Telbec/ - Water fountains are becoming an endangered
species on university campuses across Canada. That's one of the findings of a
national on-line survey, Corporate Initiatives on Campus - a 2008 Snapshot,
designed to document the commercial and corporate presence on Canadian
campuses.
    Responses to the survey, which was developed by the Canadian Centre for
Policy Alternatives, the Canadian Union of Public Employees and the Polaris
Institute, paints a picture of rapidly decaying water fountains and a lack of
access in educational institutions across the country to clean, potable tap
water.
    Thirty three per cent of respondents noted a reduction in the number of
drinking water fountains on campus. A further 43% of respondents cited delays
in repairing existing water fountains. Others said that new buildings are
being built without water fountains, that existing water fountains and cold
water taps in washrooms are being removed, and that vending machines are
blocking access to water fountains. One response from Brock University in
St. Catharines explained "there are no water fountains" in new buildings on
campus, "only Pepsi machines."
    "Why are University and College administrations limiting student access
to potable tap water in new buildings on campus?" asked Tony Clarke, Director
of the Polaris Institute, "it seems clear that Canadian universities and
colleges are bowing to pressure from Coke and PepsiCo to eliminate competition
to their bottled water brands."
    According to the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), bottled water
is the tip of a much larger privatization iceberg. "More and more North
American cities are getting back to the tap by eliminating bottled water in
their buildings. Public (or Municipal) water is the safe, affordable and
environmentally-sound choice for all public buildings in the country," said
CUPE National President Paul Moist.
    The survey covers: the general commercial or corporate presence on
campus; contracting-out; exclusive beverage marketing; access to drinking
fountains/tap water, and campus action in response to these trends. Among its
findings: 79% of respondents indicated there are fast-food suppliers on
campus; 79% cite corporate sponsorship of activities like Welcome Week or
Spirit Week; 54% of respondents said their campus had an exclusive arrangement
with Coke and 40% an exclusive arrangement with Pepsi.
    "Commercialism on campus is a trend we know is on the increase,"
explained Erika Shaker of the CCPA. "The responses to this survey provide a
preliminary look at the effects of this trend on campus life, from sponsored
activities and research to the most basic: access to tap water."
    To access a summary of the survey results please visit:
http://www.policyalternatives.ca

    The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives is an independent research
organization focusing on economic and social policy issues.

    The Polaris Institute works with citizen movements to develop new tools
and strategies for action on public policy issues like water.

    The Canadian Union of Public Employees has 570,000 members across Canada,
and represents workers in health care, education, municipalities, libraries,
universities, social services, public utilities, transportation, emergency
services and airlines.




For further information:

For further information: Kerri-Anne Finn, CCPA Media Officer, (613)
563-1341 x306, (613) 266-9491

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