CUPE Local 500 > News/Media > News Archive > Media Release: CUPE issues warning to Executive Policy Committee: Privatize our water system at your own peril

Media Release: CUPE issues warning to Executive Policy Committee: Privatize our water system at your own peril

May 14, 2021 at 4:49 PM

WINNIPEG – The union that represents municipal workers in Winnipeg is warning City Councillors who sit on the Executive Policy Committee (EPC) that if they vote in favour of privatizing the city’s wastewater system, Winnipeg families will pay the price.

“This is a critical public service that allows us to ensure the safe management of Manitoba’s lakes and rivers,” says Gord Delbridge, President of CUPE Local 500.  “This effort will put our lakes and rivers at risk of increased pollution, including allowing for the presence of harmful chemicals and urine at our public beaches along lake Winnipeg.”

This isn’t the first time that Winnipeg has been threatened with the privatization of wastewater services.  Under the leadership of former Mayor Sam Katz, city council explored the option before ultimately deciding to maintain public operation and ownership.

“Access to clean water is a human right, and the people of Manitoba are being threatened with the privatization of a public service that is essential to life,” says Delbridge. “If the EPC moves forward with this, CUPE will be on the front lines of a city-wide campaign to unseat councillors who voted in favour.  Privatizing water services is a line in the sand that CUPE will never cross.”

This past October, CUPE released a comprehensive review by the internationally acclaimed Economist John Loxley that showed conclusively that privatization is an expensive and risky move that hurts communities. The findings are detailed in an updated edition of Asking the right questions: A guide for municipal officials considering P3s.

The review revealed that P3s cost more than public projects, don’t deliver “on time and on budget”, hurt workers, are secretive and unaccountable, and don’t guarantee quality.

While the proposal currently being considered is in the early stages, CUPE in Manitoba strongly believes that the EPC should send a strong message to the province that Winnipeg’s water is not for sale.

CUPE Local 500 represents approximately 4,600 workers at the City of Winnipeg.



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For more information:
Gord Delbridge, President, CUPE Local 500: (cell): 204-391-2924,
Dale Edmunds, CUPE Communications: 204-942-0343,