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NUPGE calls on CPPIB to reject investment in water privatization

Ottawa (20 April 2021) — The National Union of Public and General Employees has called on Canada Pension Plan Investments Board (CPPIB) to reject a plan to invest in the privatization of water and sanitation sewer services in Brazil.

In a letter to the CPPIB, Bert Blundon, NUPGE Secretary-Treasurer, called on the CPPIB to reconsider its planned investment in Iguá Saneamento S.A. (Iguá). Public Services International have revealed that the investment would be used to fund Iguá’s bid to take over public water services in the state of Rio de Janeiro.

Water privatization an attack on the most vulnerable

Like all forms of privatization, the most vulnerable people in society pay the highest price when water services are privatized. The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights to water and sanitation has identified a number of risks associated with the privatization of water and sanitation, including “the deterioration of services, unaffordable access, the neglect of sustainability, the lack of accountability and inequality.”

During 18 years of water privatization in Jakarta, Indonesia water rates increased by over 400%. In Britain, after 25 years of privatization, over a third of households were affected by water poverty. 

These are just two examples of the consequences of privatizing water services. Problems with water privatization schemes around the world have been so serious that, since 2000, 311 privatized water systems have been brought back under public ownership.

It is naïve to expect that the problems with privatizing water systems that have occurred in so many places won’t be repeated in Brazil.

Canadians don’t want their pension funds invested in dodgy privatization schemes

This will not be the first time that the CPPIB has invested Canadians’ pension funds into dodgy privatization schemes. In 2019, there was a public outcry after it emerged that the CPPIB had invested in CoreCivic and GEO Group, 2 companies operating privatized prisons in the United States. Both of these companies profited from the Trump administration’s detention of migrants.

“If the investment in Iguá goes ahead, Canada Pension Plan Investments will be repeating the mistake it made when it invested in CoreCivic and the Geo Group,” said Blundon. “Canadians don’t want to see their pension funds going to privatization schemes that harm the most vulnerable people in society.”