The Quebec government is moving to reform municipal pension plans to make up for massive deficits.
The government tabled Bill 3 at the National Assembly Thursday, saying it has to step in to make sure the province’s municipal workers have a pension when they retire.
“The actual situation puts in jeopardy the future of some of those plans,” said Municipal Affairs Minister Pierre Moreau.
Moreau said that municipal pension plan deficits have ballooned — the shortfall stands at nearly $4 billion provincewide.
The new bill could make city employees pay more, and some retirees may also be on the hook for pension shortfalls.
Moreau said it should come as a relief to taxpayers.
“We are telling [taxpayers] it is not true that they will have to sustain everything as far as the pension plans are concerned,” he said.
The bill states that municipalities and employees are to split pension contributions 50-50.
Current retirees could have indexed pension increases put on hold.
Union leaders are upset and protested the bill before it was even tabled.
“Right now, this is a declaration of war,” said Marc Ranger, a spokesman for the Coalition syndicale pour le libre négociation.
Ranger said the bill leaves no room for negotiation. He wouldn’t say what action unions will take next.
“We're excluding nothing at all.”
The Montreal Police Brotherhood said that police officers will have to double their pension contributions.
“There will be no police officer who will want to come to work in Montreal,” said the brotherhood’s president Yves Francoeur.
The government insisted the bill will allow for bargaining talks.
"The idea of the whole bill is to make sure that they will renegotiate their pension plan so that it will be sustainable,” said Moreau, adding that negotiations could last months.