Montreal

Unions blast Montreal for hiring refugee coordinator at $1.8K-a-day

Montreal's firefighters' union, along with the union representing the city's white-collar workers, are joining the chorus of critics who disapprove of the city hiring an external refugee coordinator at a cost of $1,800 a day.

Unions say there are workers in house with enough expertise to do the job

Michel Dorais, a former federal deputy minister of immigration, will be paid $1,800 a day for three months to coordinate the arrival of refugees in Montreal. (Radio-Canada)

Montreal's firefighters' union, along with the union representing the city's white-collar workers, are joining the chorus of critics who disapprove of the city hiring an external refugee coordinator at a cost of $1,800 a day. 

"My members are mad and shocked," said the president of Montreal's firefighters' association, Ronald Martin. "It's not a good message to send to the citizens."

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

The city justified the choice, and Dorais' salary, in a document presented to city council. 

It lists Dorais's "long track record" in immigration issues, including his six years at the federal Citizenship and Immigration department, as well as experience handling newly arrived Kosovar refugees in 1999.

The document also states that the salary includes vacation pay and compensation for not taking part in a pension plan. 

Unions see new hire as slap in the face 

Martin said he had nothing against Dorais personally, nor did he challenge his expertise, but he found it hard to take the news of Dorais's appointment while so many city workers are dealing with job cuts. 

"Last week the Montreal city budget was made public, and we see that we're going to lose 11 firemen from the operations department, and Mr. Dorais is going to be hired at $1,800 per day?" Martin said. 

Alain Fugère, head of city's white-collar workers' union, said his members have been working without a contract for nearly four years. 

He's accusing the Coderre administration of privatizing the city by subcontracting work out to others, instead of using city workers. 

"They say they have no money for us, but then we see them hire Mr. Dorais," Fugère said. 

The mayor is on a visit to France and has not commented on the appointment. The city's executive committee approved Dorais's hiring on Nov. 25.

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