We have learned that the government has issued an order to bail out the pension funds of elected municipal officials when it had previously passed legislation to make cuts to the pension plans of municipal workers on the pretext of ensuring their long-term viability. The Regroupement des retraités cols bleus in Montréal is turning to that city’s mayor, Denis Coderre, to ask him to do the right thing by respecting the contract signed between the city and its retired workers.

In a letter addressed to Montréal’s mayor, the Regroupement is asking him to agree to continue indexing pensions as provided under Bill 15 and, in so doing, to avoid jeopardizing the futures of the thousands of people who devoted their working lives to serving the citizens of Montréal.

We ask that you uphold these commitments, as have done many other municipalities, including the city of Gatineau,” state the retired workers. “Now that we are already retired and it is no longer an option for us to extend our working lives, suspending pension indexing would be an unfair, immoral and, in our opinion, illegal move on the mayor’s part. This decision would leave us to face unforeseeable impoverishment.” This issue has arisen just as the municipalities are preparing to follow a government order to take over full responsibility, at taxpayers’ expense, for the Pension Plan for Elected Municipal Officials (PPEMO), which by 2017 will no longer be able to meet its obligations.

The gold-plated pensions of blue-collar workers in Montréal are a myth. According to figures from the Institut de la statistique du Québec (ISQ), an alarming number of blue-collar workers and their surviving spouses live below the poverty line.

In their letter to the mayor, the retired workers also cite the City of Montréal’s history of indexing pensions and the importance of this measure for former employees. “When we were still working for the City, we made the collective, prudent choice to protect our purchasing power during our retirement rather than striving for higher pensions at the time of retirement, and this choice needs to be respected,” they explain.

With more than 110,000 members, CUPE-Quebec represents approximately 70% of all municipal employees in Quebec, or 31,600 members. CUPE is also active in a broad range of sectors, including health and social services, communications, education, energy, Quebec government corporations and public agencies, air transportation, public transit, the mixed sector and universities.