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Ontario Teachers’ Pension Should Divest from Private Water
TORONTO - September 1 - The Council of Canadians took the campaign for the Ontario Teachers’
Pension Plan (OTPP) to divest from private water services in Chile
directly to teachers today. The aim was to inform the 20,000 teachers
and support staff, gathered at the Air Canada Centre for a Toronto
District School Board professional development day, about the impacts of
water privatization in Chile. The Council of Canadians set up an
information station there complete with chalkboards that read "You don't
support private water. Why does your pension?"
The OTPP owns $1.1 billion worth of private shares in Chilean water and sanitation utilities, including 50.83% of the water utility Essbio, 69.4% of Esval, and 100% of ANSM. Teachers were asked to support the campaign demanding that the OTPP divest from for-profit water in Chile.
“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 Maude Barlow, National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians and a proud Fellow of the Ontario Teachers’ Federation. “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 Chilean Organization of Consumers and Users did a review of 15,000 water bills in Chile’s 6th Region and found rate increases between 100 and 200 per cent. Those who couldn’t afford to pay the higher bills had their water services cut-off. The OTPP support for water privatization runs counter to basic principles of social justice, human rights, and sound investment.
"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,” adds Council of Canadians National Water Campaigner Meera Karunananthan. "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."