August 21, 2014 4:49 pm
Updated: August 21, 2014 6:44 pm

Union leaders, minister butt heads at Bill 3 hearings


QUEBEC CITY – The most vocal opponents of Bill 3 told a parliamentary committee on Thursday that taxpayers should be the ones absorbing the $4 billion municipal pension deficit.

READ MORE: Bill 3 public hearings open in Quebec City

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“For past deficits, you have to keep in mind that something was negotiated at the time in our global remuneration,” said Chris Ross, Vice-President of the Montreal Firefighters’ Association.

“At the time, when we agreed to those terms, everyone was aware that the employer was responsible for 100% of the deficit. In return the pension plan also provided that they got the majority of the surpluses.”

READ MORE: City workers ‘ready for war’ over proposed pension reform bill

Firefighters told Municipal Affairs Minister Pierre Moreau they won’t allow changes to their pensions unless they get something in return.

“It’s a communicating vessel. If the pension goes down by 10%, well the salaries should come up by 10% as well,” said Ross.

WATCH: Public hearings for Bill 3 open in Quebec City

Unions refused to split the bill 50-50 and continued to argue the piece of legislation is an attack on their vested interests.

READ MORE: Retired blue-collar workers protest Bill 3

“What are the options?” Moreau asked.

“If the unions are not paying and the municipalities are paying everything, it means that the choice will be to put the burden on the taxpayer only.”

WATCH: The economics of Bill 3

Moreau volunteered a solution: “What about delaying the payment of their share of the past deficit?”

Yet, Montreal’s Police Brotherhood called the whole thing a farce and said it expects social unrest.

READ MORE: Montreal police to investigate after municipal workers invade city hall

“There is a problem with daycares, with medical specialists, they’re going to do exactly the same with provincial workers, it’s going to be a mess for sure,” said Yves Francoeur, the Brotherhood’s president.

WATCH: Retired blue collar workers protest Bill 3

The declaration didn’t sit well with the minister and exchanges with Francoeur became personal.

“If you don’t get what you want, you break everything? It doesn’t work that way,” said Moreau.

The hearings continue on Friday.

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