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HAMILTON, ON – Hamilton has a terrible history with the privatization of public services, and residents should consider candidate track records very carefully before voting, says Fred Hahn, president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario.

“It is disconcerting that Fred Eisenberger is running for mayor, given his history as a lobbyist for a private multinational water company,” said Hahn. “The mayor and council are responsible for protecting the environment and the interests of residents. Hamilton learned the hard way that privatization is expensive and dangerous.”

In 1994, Hamilton signed a $180-million public-private partnership (P3) deal for wastewater services. It was hailed as the biggest and best P3 project of its kind.

But things went sour very quickly. The company had promised 200 jobs and $16 million in investment in the community – promises that were never fulfilled. And the quality of service was undeniably poor, highlighted by a 1996 spill of 135 million litres of raw sewage that contaminated the harbour and more than 50 homes and businesses. Hamiltonians were left on the hook for $2.5 million in damages.

“It took a lot of work to bring these public services back to the municipality, but it was the right thing to do and Hamilton has benefited from restoring these vital public services,” says Sandra Walker, president of CUPE Local 5167, which represents the workers in the city’s public works department. “Now that it is back, municipal employees work hard every day to protect your water and your environment.”

On October 27, people across Ontario will vote in municipal and school board elections.

“Leading up to the October 27 vote, I encourage all Hamiltonians to carefully question politicians about their views on privatization and any ties they have to companies that seek to profit from contracts like the failed wastewater P3,” said Hahn.

CUPE is Ontario’s community union, with members providing the quality public services we all rely on, in every part of the province, every day. CUPE Ontario members are proud to work in social services, health care, municipalities, school boards, universities and airlines.


For more information and to arrange interviews, please contact:

Craig Saunders, CUPE Communications, 416-576-7316