Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE)

Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE)

April 25, 2013 11:05 ET

CUPE challenging Harper's water privatization at the UN

UNITED NATIONS, GENEVA--(Marketwired - April 25, 2013) - CUPE is at the United Nation in Geneva this week drawing international attention to the Harper Conservative's efforts to privatize Canada's municipal water and wastewater systems, and the threat this poses to the accessibility of safety public water for all Canadians.

The Harper Conservative government's human rights record is being reviewed on April by member states of the UN during Canada's Universal Periodic Review. In the days leading up to the review, CUPE has been meeting with diplomats from various countries taking part to share concerns over the Harper Conservatives water policies.

"Water is a human right, and it is the responsibility of Canada's federal government to acknowledge and protect that right for every Canadian," said Paul Moist, national president of CUPE. "The track record of the Harper Conservative Government, however, shows they are more concerned with corporations profiting water first and foremost."

In its meetings and discussions, CUPE has been sharing concerns over the Harper Conservative strategy of forcing risky public-private partnerships (P3s) on to municipal governments which is undermining public water and wastewater systems in communities across the country.

"Prime Minister Stephen Harper has inexplicably tied federal infrastructure funding to a condition that they be P3 projects, forcing municipalities in dire need of support in maintaining crumbling infrastructure to privatize their water and waste water systems," said Moist. "We hope UN member states will take the opportunity to press the Harper Conservative government on recognizing the human right to water and sanitation by keeping water services in public hands, and question their 'P3 or nothing' edict."

CUPE is also highlighting the considerable problems with the P3 model for water and waste water systems - such as higher costs compared to traditional public services, and the loss of transparency, accountability and local democratic control.

"We are making it clear to the international community: the best way to ensure Canadians right to water is protected is to keep our water and wastewater systems in public hands," said Moist.

CUPE is also offering its support for Indigenous peoples working to build international pressure on Canada to address the crisis-level conditions of drinking water in First Nation communities.

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