Retirees joining fight against Bill 3
A new voice is joining the chorus of unionized municipal employees speaking out against proposed pension reforms.
A coalition of groups representing retired union workers are throwing their support behind their former co-workers in the fight against changes to pension plan contributions.
The newly formed Reseau Espaces 50+ is a coalition of retirees who say they want to fight the myths about public service pensions.
Former blue- and white-collar workers say there are many retirees who have gone back to work after learning the hard way that their pensions were not enough to live on.
"The first myth is that because most of the organization here has members that don't have even $30,000 a year for a pension," said Francois Teasdale.
Marcel Guillotte is one of them. The 67-year-old spent 30 years as a blue-collar worker for the city of Montreal and now lives on just over $25,000 a year. He can't afford to own a car, he said, so he takes the bus.
Under the proposals tabled by the Liberal government, public servants would have to increase contributions to pension plans to match what is spent by municipalities.
The provincial government says municipalities across Quebec are facing a collective $3.9 billion deficit to pension plans. While mayors across Quebec support the bill, unionized workers object and have staged several protests to show their displeasure.
Firefighters, paramedics and police officers are also wearing non-uniform pants, and have plastered stickers over their work vehicles.
The group's members say they are also concerned about plans to eliminate the automatic indexation of pension payments.
“If you have $25,000 per year as your pension and there's no indexation, we're going to talk in 15 years and you're still going to have your $25,000 -- that may only have a value of $19,000,” said Marc Ranger of the Union Coalition for Free Negotiation.
The group of thousands of retirees is joining forces with the Union Coalition for Free Negotiation, which claims its workers can’t afford the cuts, and nearly half of retired workers end up looking for a job after two years.
“They're going back to work at Home Depot, you're going to see them at different places like Walmart...Why? The pension is not enough,” said Louisette Hinton of the Congress of Union Retirees of Canada.
Still, Premier Philippe Couillard argues most taxpayers are on board with the government's plans to tackle the $3.9 billion pension plan deficit, and said he's not planning to budge.
“People recognize the urgency of the situation, the need for the government to act, to restrict spending and to stimulate growth and employment. On that, the majority of the people are absolutely in accordance with what we want to do,” he said.
A mass demonstration is scheduled for Montreal on August 20, the same day that parliamentary hearings on Bill 3 begin in Quebec City.