Bill 3 hearings 'a farce' says Montreal police brotherhood chief
Published Thursday, August 21, 2014 12:08PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, August 22, 2014 8:12AM EDT
Montreal Police Brotherhood President Yves Francoeur, called a parliamentary commission on Bill 3 “a farce” and said that the legislation “sets the table for significant social disruption.”
Francoeur said that he believes that the legislation will be passed as is, regardless of the parliamentary hearings.
Municipal Affairs Minister Pierre Moreau said that he did not appreciate "the threat of unrest" and reminded Francoeur that he had taken an oath to serve and protect.
Moreau said that the police must not take the approach of, "If I don't get my way I'll break everything."
He said that the workers hadn't proposed any better solutions than Bill 3 as of yet. "I'm waiting for people to suggest some solutions," said Moreau, who is behind the proposed law.
At a press conference Thursday morning Marc Ranger, who represents the municipal workers, blasted back at Moreau.
"It's untrue. He's lying," said Ranger. "We've got a lot of proposals to solve this and he knows them already."
Ranger noted that the unions have proposed a fund to stabilize pensions as part of the law. "It's our proposal. It's our idea," he said.
"Our frustration is mounting because the dialogue of the deaf is a one-sided one," said Ranger.
Premier Philippe Couillard echoed his colleague Moreau's demand for more detailed proposals from the employees. "I'm still waiting for some significant counterarguments," he said, while speaking at a press conference with the Ontario premier.
"I don't hear anybody speaking up for taxpayers," said Couillard.
Quebec Firefighters Association President Ronald Martin said that the pension deficits should be paid by taxpayers.
Quebec Municipal Police federation president Denis Cote said that workers sense that the government is not revealing its true motivations and is really aiming to correct municipal financing and not pension plans.
Moreau, meanwhile, was asked whether MNAs would be willing to have their own pensions refinanced as under Bill 3.
"I don't see why we wouldn't go ahead with this," he said. MNAs currently only contribute 21 percent of their pensions and the new regime would raise that to 50 percent. The CAQ party is planning to table a bill suggesting the switch.
Local municipal workers in a different boat
The Montreal public servants are providing a very different picture than what exists in municipalities across the province.
Chris Ross of the Montreal firefighters' association said the retirement plan for his co-workers is 90 percent funded, while the Montreal police department's pension fund has 106 percent of the money it needs.
"The only thing we're resentful about is that it's being imposed on us," said Ross.
"We realize there are changes, our members are taxpayers. The money that we make we don't put it into our mattress, we spend it in the local communities and what we're resentful of is having the change imposed on us."
Ross said if the changes to pension plans are made, firefighters should receive a 10 percent raise.
"We've demonstrated in the past we can sit down, we can negotiate."
The firefighters say that a $2,700 annual raise would be required to compensate for the pension plan losses.
Police were following orders
Meanwhile the protest that trashed Montreal City Hall on Monday evening has divided Quebecers.
According to a SOM poll taken online, 47 percent of voters said the wild protest decreased the respect they had for firefighters and police officers.
Yves Francoeur of the Montreal Police Brotherhood said officers, most of whom sympathize with firefighters, were only following orders in letting the protesters enter the building.
"Our officers asked the direction of the police department to intervene two times. It was refused two times, the second time by the Director of Operations," said Francoeur.
"The second time they said there was no [request] from city hall to intervene inside city hall."
According to that same poll, 46 percent said the government has their full support in imposing changes on pension plans for unionized municipal workers.
39 percent are opposed, while 15 percent said they have no opinion.
The SOM poll interviewed 1,100 people this week.
It claims to have a 3.3 percent margin of error, 19 times out of 20.
-With a file from The Canadian Press