A new report on the state of pension finances in Montreal highlights the need for reform, said Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre.

The city’s pension plan is currently running a deficit of $1.85 billion.

The report tabled today cites diminishing returns on investments and a population that’s living longer as reasons why municipal workers’ pension plans are unsustainable.

“I think that the portrait we have today shows that the problem is structural,” said Coderre.

Special meeting held Monday 

City council held a special meeting on Monday to look over numbers in the wake of Bill 3 — now Law 15 — passing in the National Assembly.

Marc Ranger

Union leader Marc Ranger said the city deliberately used old numbers to make the situation look worse than it is. (Kate McKenna/CBC)

Law 15 sees all municipal workers paying more into their pensions.

The city will start negotiations for new collective agreements with unions on Feb. 1, although union leaders said on Monday that because the law  was passed in Quebec’s legislature, their ability to negotiate has been undercut.

Coderre’s government has steadfastly supported pension reform, despite large protests by municipal workers.

“The principle of negotiation is that we have to share together. Sharing is 50/50,” said Coderre, adding that he will not increase Montrealers' taxes to fix the pension deficit.

He says each of the unions — police, firefighters, blue and white collar workers — will have different negotiations. Coderre says he will work to preserve the blue collar worker pension.

Books are cooked, says union spokesman

Marc Ranger, spokesperson for the group that represents municipal unions, said the numbers tabled today at city council are old — and don’t represent last year’s market bump that saw the value of pension investments increase.

"It was a nice piece of theatre — well orchestrated," said Ranger. 

He also reiterated the union’s commitment to challenge Law 15 in court.

Controversial handling of file

Coderre’s government was criticized by both the unions and opposition councillors for not releasing the documents until the meeting.

Both groups said it didn’t leave enough time to examine the numbers critically before asking questions.

"I think it's scandalous and outrageous that a report of that massive importance and complexity — I mean it’s an actual report, not something you read on your bedside table — is going to be tabled and then we have to comment on it. I think it makes no sense," said Projet Montréal finance critic Guillaume Lavoie.