World Water Day: Solidarity and action, locally and globally

CUPE newsletter: Today is World Water Day – a day to celebrate our victories protecting public water and to mobilize for the challenges we face in 2012.

CUPE members have been fighting hard in Canada to keep our water systems publicly owned and operated. Fifteen years ago, sensing the water corporations waiting offshore, we united our struggles in a targeted Water Watch campaign. Today, the vast majority of Canada’s water and wastewater systems remain publicly owned and operated, and several flagship privatization schemes have gone down to defeat.

But the push to privatize is growing, driven by the Harper government and its privatization arm, PPP Canada Inc. PPP Canada’s hard sell explicitly targets water services, and forces local governments to embrace privatization in order to get infrastructure funding.

There is another way. Read how the federal government could fund public water and wastewater services in the water chapter of the 2012 Alternative Federal Budget.

CUPE is also working with the Council of Canadians and other allies, pressuring the Harper government to deliver on water and sanitation services as human rights. Now that the United Nations has formally recognized the human right to water and sanitation, governments must take immediate action to uphold and fully implement these fundamental rights. In Canada, this means taking concrete steps to end the on-reserve drinking water and sanitation crisis in many First Nations communities.

Take action on the human right to water and sanitation. Read the letter CUPE has signed, and ask your member of parliament to pledge their support for the human right to water and sanitation.

Our union is also working to raise awareness about the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement between Canada and the European Union. This new trade deal would encourage and lock in privatization of Canadian water and wastewater services. CUPE and its allies are calling for water and other vital services to be exempt from CETA, and a growing number of municipalities are demanding they be exempted from the deal altogether. Learn more and get tools to use in your community at

CUPE is proud to be of global labour and civil society movements working at all levels to defend, improve and extend public water systems. We renewed and deepened those connections at the recent Alternative World Water Forum in Marseille. The alternative gathering stood in stark contrast to the corporate-driven, undemocratic World Water Forum, and has launched the next wave of activism to reclaim public water.

From the global to the local, every action counts. A simple step is to promote the value of public drinking water services and stop the sale and distribution of bottled water through the Back the tap campaign. Your local can get involved by visiting