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Great Lakes Article:

Privatization Can Cause More Problems Than it Solves - Lessons From Africa
Canada NewsWire
10/20/03

OTTAWA - African community leaders caution Canadians about privatization of essential services. Their experience with privatization of water, electricity and health care, often required by the World Bank as part of aid or debt relief programmes, is that the problems in public sector delivery have not been solved by the private sector, and in some cases, have been worsened.

"The rationale for privatization is to improve service, but in South
Africa, privatization of water has resulted in tariff increases of 600 per
cent since 1996. In a country where the majority of people are poor, this has resulted in less service, not more," said Richard Makolo from the Orange Farm Water Crisis Committee of South Africa.

In South Africa, a number of residents who were not able to pay soaring water bills were forced to go back to the original sources, either the lake or the river. This resulted in the worst cholera outbreak in South Africa's recent history, which left 300 people dead from cholera - a water-borne disease and about 350,000 people affected.

"The experiences in South Africa and other countries are not unlike
Canada's early experiences with privatization", noted Barbara Byers, Executive Vice-President of the Canadian Labour Congress. "When maximizing profit is the prime goal, not ensuring sustainability or equal access, rates go up and quality of service can go down".

Hamilton, Ontario was the first municipality in Canada to contract out
its water services. Since then, communities from Halifax to Nanaimo have considered similar moves. The privatization in Hamilton resulted in the worst sewage spill in Lake Ontario in history.

"Governments are required by international agreements and by national constitutions to treat citizens equally and to fulfill a social contract to meet basic needs. With privatization of essential services, it is impossible to hold governments accountable", said Sylvester Ejiofoh, General Secretary of a Nigerian trade union.

Mr. Ejiofoh and Mr. Makolo are in Canada as part of a cross-Canada
privatization tour, October 14-28th.

The Canadian Labour Congress, the national voice of the labour movement, represents 2.5 million Canadian workers. The CLC brings together Canada's national and international unions along with the provincial and territorial federations of labour and 137 district labour councils. Web site: www.clc-ctc.ca

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