People's memo to Ottawa, Victoria: keep water public

    VICTORIA, March 22 /CNW/ - On World Water Day, March 22, the Canadian
Union of Public Employees (CUPE) joins with other water activists around the
world to send a simple message to politicians: listen to the people who have
elected you and keep water and wastewater services public.
    "Governments want to tie funding for new water and wastewater treatment
to public-private partnerships or P3s, but citizens are clearly saying we want
these services to be provided by government, not private corporations," says
Barry O'Neill, president of CUPE's B.C. division.
    O'Neill points to the recent federal budget that institutionalizes
privatization as the preferred route for public investments in infrastructure,
including water. This comes in addition to the B.C. government's requirement
that major capital projects be reviewed by Partnerships BC and be considered
as public-private partnerships.
    "In Greater Victoria - the Capital Regional District of Vancouver
Island - the provincial government is relentlessly promoting private operation
of new sewage treatment and it is frankly shameful," says O'Neill. "How is
this in the public interest? We need federal and provincial funding for
community infrastructure - including water and sewage services - and it
shouldn't be tied to privatization and P3s."
    A comprehensive survey by the Environics Research Group in Greater
Victoria this January finds overwhelming support for public operation of
sewage treatment, with three out of four residents trusting local government
more than a private corporation. Province-wide surveys find similar levels of
mistrust of private corporations and support for public operation when it
comes to water and wastewater services.
    O'Neill says that while the major water privatization battle in British
Columbia is in the Greater Victoria area, private water corporations are
making overtures to many local and regional governments. "Despite this
corporate hard sell, the vast majority of British Columbia and Canada's water
and wastewater systems are publicly owned and operated - many by CUPE
members," he notes.
    "CUPE continues to work with communities to assure community control and
safe drinking water and sewage treatment, including First Nations communities,
many of which are suffering from generations of neglect."

For further information:

For further information: Barry O'Neill, CUPE BC president, (604)
340-6768; Roseanne Moran, CUPE Communications, (778) 835-7537

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Canadian Union of Public Employees

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Canadian Union of Public Employees - BC Regional

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