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District of Sicamous, B.C. wants water taken out of CETA — Yours might too

Sicamous, B.C. District Council has agreed to write a letter to the Union of B.C. Municipalities, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and the Southern Interior Local Government Association, “expressing concern over the proposed Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) currently being negotiated between Canada and the European Union,” writes the Eagle Valley News this week. With only a few weeks before offers on services, investment and procurement are supposed to go to the EU for consideration, we need more municipalities making this kind of noise about CETA. You can help make this happen.

Sicamous councillors decided to take action after receiving a letter on CETA from the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), which included a copy of the report the Council of Canadians co-wrote with CUPE on how water services and management are affected by the deal. That report, “Public Water for Sale: How Canada Will Privatize Our Public Water Systems,” is available on our website here.

According to our report, if CETA is negotiated on the terms sought by the EU, it would be the first time that Canada has allowed our drinking water to be fully covered under a trade treaty and the first instance that a trade agreement has covered municipal procurement of water services. The services and procurement commitments proposed in CETA would be protected by strong investor rights.

The effect of these rights as they relate to the services and procurement provisions would be to lock in existing private water contracts, restrict how local governments regulate the activity and investment of private water companies, and to encourage and facilitate the privatization of Canada’s largely public water delivery and treatment systems. Canadian provinces and territories cannot be allowed to sacrifice public water for the sole benefit of EU water profiteers such as Veolia and Suez.


We are only weeks away from an end-of-March deadline for the provinces and territories to send offers on procurement, services and investment to the EU. It is crucial these offers do not include drinking water and sanitation services, and that municipal governments and their water utilities be excluded from the procurement chapter of CETA.

You can help make the case to your local council, your provincial and your federal members of parliament. It’s as simple as getting our report on CETA and water privatization into the hands of as many local, provincial and federal decision makers as possible. Ask them to follow in the footsteps of Sicamous and other municipalities by sending a letter of concern to the provincial or territorial government, and to municipal associations to which they belong.

Click here to to to our Action Alert from December, which includes links to find your provincial, territorial and federal representatives’ email addresses. You’ll have to find local contacts on your local council’s website.


– Government procurement and trade-in-services commitments related to water systems must be rejected in CETA. It is pointless to make commitments in water services unless your intention is to privatize public water delivery or treatment systems.

– Municipal governments and their water utilities must be excluded entirely from CETA. There are no gains, only large risks, more pressures to privatize water systems, and unnecessary limitations open municipal autonomy.

– Provincial and territorial governments must work with municipalities and the federal government to develop a public funding plan to upgrade Canada’s neglected water infrastructure. The money is available — it is a matter or prioritizing public funds for public water infrastructure.

– Finally, all levels of government must be transparent with Canadians about the effect that CETA will have on the provision of public services and development of social policy. They should seek informed consent from Canadians on what provisions a trade agreement with the EU should and should not include.