Council of Canadians staff and Toronto chapter activists have just started distributing leaflets to the 19,000 teachers and support staff gathering at the Air Canada Centre for a professional development day.
We are bringing to them our concern that their pension fund – the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan – invests heavily in Chilean private, for-profit water companies.
In an article in advance of the protest, the Canadian Press reported yesterday that, “The council’s presence outside Toronto’s Air Canada Centre on Wednesday… will mark the beginning of a new drive to reach out to teachers more directly.”
Our message – teachers don’t support private water, so neither should their pension fund.
The OTPP owns 50.83 percent of the Chilean water utility Essbio, 69.4 percent of Esval, and 100 percent of ANSM.
The Canadian Press article notes that, “(OTPP president Jim) Leech wouldn’t say what the return on private water investments in Chile have been, but he said it has met expectations and the pension fund is pleased with its performance.”
The fact sheet we are handing out now highlights, “The (Chilean) government admits that within the first few years of privatization, water rates rose by 20 percent. But many groups contend that the rates are even higher than the government’s numbers. The Chilean Organization of Consumers and Users… found cost increases between 100 and 200 percent.”
Toronto’s CP24 reports today that, “Council chairwoman Maude Barlow says private water services increase prices for consumers and hinder access to water.”
Prior to today’s action, hundreds of teachers had already signed our petition calling for the OTPP to divest from these companies and to support the transition of these companies back to public water utilities.
More are signing that petition today.
The Council of Canadians also intends to take this message directly to the chairman of Essbio and Esval.
Pedro Pablo Errazuiz will be a keynote speaker at the pro-privatization World Water Congress meeting in Montreal from September 19-24.
The CP24 article is at http://m.cp24.com/site?t=SQncd23TSOBVmnrFRygnJg&sid=cp24.