Next Tuesday, Toronto City Council will vote on a recommendation that it rule out the privatization of water supply or sewage treatment in the city. This ill-considered recommendation reflects union politics rather than a reasoned analysis of the merits of private sector involvement. If councillors approve it, they will prevent the city from capturing tremendous economic and environmental benefits.
Canada’s image, both domestic and foreign, is that of a country of endless lakes and rivers. A perception of unlimited abundance is reflected in Canadians’ water consumption, which amounts to approximately 350 litres a day per capita, or more than twice that of many western Europeans. To a large extent, however, the superabundance of water is exaggerated. Much of the water in Canada is geographically inaccessible, available at inappropriate times, or polluted.