Unions Speak Out Against Quebec’s Bill 3, Plan Next Moves

Canada mapQuebec’s controversial pension reform legislation, Bill 3, passed into law last week. The law divvies up responsibility for paying down governments $3.9 billion pension debt 50-50 between employers and employees. As a result, employees now shoulder more of the burden for paying down pension debt in the form of higher contributions.

Now, union leaders are speaking out against the law and planning their next moves. Union leaders say government officials have “started a fire”. From the Montreal Gazette:

“We’re more determined than ever,” Marc Ranger, spokesperson for the Coalition syndicale pour la libre négociation, told a press conference at the Crémazie Blvd. E. headquarters of the Quebec Federation of Labour.

“We will target municipal administrations, that’s for sure,” he said.

“Most of these mayors will not find this funny in the months to come.”

Ranger did not specify what the pressure tactics would be, but promised that after the Christmas break, municipal employees would take action that will make the public sit up and take notice.

However, he said the coalition, representing 65,000 firefighters, police officers, transport workers, blue-collar workers and white-collar employees, will steer clear of illegal actions like the Aug. 18 ransacking of city hall, which has resulted in criminal charges.

Bill 3, calling for negotiations with unions on underfunded pension plans and a 50-50 sharing of costs to refinance plans that are in the red, is the government’s response to a $3.9-billion pension shortfall.


He added that the union is prepared to take its legal challenge to the pension bill to the Supreme Court of Canada.

“They’ve started a fire. Now it’s up to them to put it out,” he said.

Read more coverage of Bill 3 here.

Quebec Passes Controversial Pension Reform Into Law

Canada mapDespite the legal threats of unions and the protests of public workers, Quebec’s controversial pension reform measure passed into law Thursday.

The law, Bill 3, mandate that workers contribute a higher percentage of their paychecks to their pensions. In short, they split the bill 50-50 with municipalities.

More details from CBC:

The bill was passed on Thursday morning at the National Assembly by a vote of 85-28.

The law will force municipal workers and retirees to contribute more to their pensions to offset a $4-billion pension fund deficit.


Liberal Premier Philippe Couillard defended the reforms during question period in the National Assembly.

“In Quebec, we don’t spend more than what we have,” he said.

“The reality of catching up — there are millions of dollars to get back. We’re doing it with courage, we’re doing what was supposed to be done before. And why are we doing it? We’re doing it for today’s Quebecers and the next generations to whom we want to pass on a Quebec in good financial health,” Couillard said.

Members of the opposition parties groaned when Couillard said the move was to overcome a $5.8-billion deficit.


Municipal Affairs Minister Pierre Moreau’s reforms passed with just two amendments to the bill.

One was to take some of the burden off retirees when it comes to paying off the deficit.

The second gives municipal workers’ unions and the province more flexibility in contract negotiations.

Bill 3 can be read here.

Quebec Stays Course on Pension Reforms In Face of Mounting Protests

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Protestors are flooding Montréal streets in opposition of Quebec’s Bill 3, a measure that would freeze COLAs for retirees and increase employee contributions.

But the government isn’t willing to reverse course on their plan to lower the costs of the province’s pension system. Bill 3 is expected to pass within a month. From the Montreal Gazette:

The provincial government won’t budge on the proposed reform of municipal pension plans, Municipal Affairs Minister Pierre Moreau said Tuesday, three days after the largest protest yet against Bill 3 was held in Montreal.

“We are not in a bargaining situation,” he said. “The government and experts have said, in a report that was welcomed by everyone in the National Assembly, that there was an urgency to act to save those pensions. That’s what we’ve done.”

The minister said the government is done consulting interested parties, including union leaders, retiree representatives and the Union des municipalités du Québec, and has moved on to drafting the bill. Union leaders called the hearings a “farce.”


The government won’t necessarily wait for actuarial reports on the health of the pension plans to be published next month before passing the bill, Moreau added.

“Having the numbers doesn’t change anything,” he said. “It doesn’t change anything for the pensions that are totally under-financed.

“For example, even if I don’t know your weight, if you’re overweight I know you’re in precarious health.”

Bill 3 is part of a larger austerity plan to cut government costs and pay down a deficit of nearly $4 billion.