Close to 500 people gathered this week for a panel discussion on the upcoming public-private partnership (P3) referendum in Regina.
The Leader-Post reports, “Hosted by Regina Water Watch, a local group with union support that pushed for the referendum, the event featured speakers Maude Barlow, the national chairperson of the Council of Canadians, who has spoken out against the Harper government pushing municipalities into more P3s; Saskatoon-based retired Environment Canada research scientist Marley Waiser; and P3 expert Pierre Hamel, who has studied such projects in other Canadian municipalities for the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. …Reginans have now been tasked with weighing the divergent views before they head to the polls Sept. 25.”
CJME reported on the media conference prior to the public forum. In that article, Barlow says, “It is absolutely essential that we not hand our water services and our water systems and our actual water supplies over to the private sector around the world. If Regina goes ahead to privatizing its water, I promise you, in five years you’ll be having a debate about how to undo this. It’s happening all over the world where communities have gone the private route [and] they’re sorry.”
That article also notes, “Barlow explained that her opposition is also based on the public good. She said when a public entity has control it’s providing a service and is not-for-profit. When money is charged for the service those dollars go back into infrastructure. In contrast, Barlow insisted that if a private company takes over the plant its only interest would be in making a profit; she believes that would usually be at least 15 per cent.”
The Global News article quotes Barlow stating, “When it’s a private company, they have to make a profit and there are only so many ways you can do this. You have to raise water rates higher than the public rates or you have to cut corners somewhere and you have to lay off the work force. I’ve heard horror stories from around the world where private companies have been able to cut corners.”
Metro News adds that, “Earlier this week, Regina Water Watch released its first video ads, urging residents to Vote Yes in the upcoming referendum. The city has already established a $340,000 budget to fund a Vote No advertising campaign.”
Video of Barlow speaking at the press conference can be seen here.