Montreal

Syrian refugee coordinator's $1.8K-a-day pay irks union and opposition

Montreal will pay a former federal deputy minister $1,800 a day to coordinate the arrival of refugees in the city.

Opposition and unions say municipal employees are qualified to do the job

Guillaume Lavoie, city councillor the Projet Montréal, said that appointing a non-municipal employee for $1,800 a day to coordinate the refugee process "makes no sense". (CBC)

Montreal opposition parties and municipal unions are slamming Mayor Denis Coderre for paying one of his former top employees $1,800 a day to co-ordinate the arrival of refugees in the city. 

Michel Dorais, who was Canada's deputy minister of immigration from 1998 to 2004, will be paid $110,000 for the three-month job of heading the city's committee to welcome thousands of Syrian and Iraqi refugees.

Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre was federal immigration minister from 2002 to 2003.

In a document presented to city council, Dorais's salary is justified as including vacation pay and compensation for not taking part in a pension plan.

The document says Dorais has a "long track record" in immigration, which includes six years in Citizenship and Immigration Canada and experience with Kosovar refugees in 1999.

Reaction to the appointment was swift, not only for the salary figure, but also for passing over municipal employees who could also have done the job.

"We have more than 20,000 employees in Montreal. Are we telling them that no one is qualified enough to coordinate the arrival of the refugees? That makes no sense at all," said Guillaume Lavoie, a Projet Montréal city councillor and the Opposition's spokesman for finance and government relations.

"On other hand, we're asking Montrealers and tens of organizations to volunteer their time and money, and the guy at the end of the table is making $1,800 a day."

A union of municipal professionals said it's looking into ways to oppose the move. The syndicat des professionnelles et professionnels municipaux de Montréal claims someone already in the city payroll could have handled the task.

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