The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Dylan Penner, Media Officer, Council of Canadians, 613-795-8685,

Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan Must Divest From Privatized Water in Chile, Says Council of Canadians


The Council of Canadians is calling on the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan to divest from private water services in Chile.

"As Ontario teachers know, there is growing concern about the privatization of water services around the world as large, for-profit utilities move in to take over the delivery of water and wastewater services from the public sector," says Maude Barlow, National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians and a proud Fellow of the Ontario Teachers' Federation.

Private water services around the world have led to worker lay-offs, rate hikes, reduced environmental controls and cut-offs to the poor.

The Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan, jointly run by the provincial government and the Ontario Teachers' Federation, is a now major investor in the highly controversial private water systems in Chile.

Barlow argues that this investment undermines efforts by a broad coalition of social justice and environmental groups who are behind the recent introduction of a constitutional amendment that would declare water a public trust and a common resource, a very significant development toward taking back public control of its water services and resources. The amendment was introduced by the previous Chilean government and groups will continue with their efforts to ensure that the current government follows through.

Every five years, the companies renegotiate tariffs. They are in current negotiations with the Chilean government at the moment and demanding stiff tariff increases. Further, Southwater, through the companies ESSBIO and ESVAL, is planning to expand its private business into some now public water systems of Bolivia and Peru.

"For years, Ontario teachers have been on the forefront of fighting for a just, equitable, public and universally accessible education system for the students of the province. Ontario teachers support the fight for public water services in the province and teach their students about the urgent need to support the right to water around the world," says Barlow. "So how is it possible that Ontario teachers are represented by a pension fund that betrays these efforts, and supports a private water services industry in Chile that is undermining the right to safe, clean public water in that country?"

The Council of Canadians has sent letters to the Ontario Teachers' Federation and its affiliated unions. The organization is calling on shareholders to speak up and demand a higher ethical standard for their pension investments that does not involve the privatization of water services.

The Council of Canadians is calling on the OTPP to begin a process to sell its shares in stages in these companies to the Chilean government and return to the state and its people their water rights.

Founded in 1985, the Council of Canadians is Canada's leading social action organization, mobilizing a network of 60 chapters across the country.

Office: (613) 233-4487, ext. 249