Quebec government passes controversial pension legislation

Bill 3, which had triggered massive protests, was adopted by Quebec's legislature by an 85-28 margin

Jacques Boissinot/CP

Jacques Boissinot/CP

QUEBEC – The Quebec legislature has passed a controversial pension bill that has triggered massive protests from municipal workers.

Bill 3 was adopted by an 85-28 margin today, with the governing Liberals and the Coalition for Quebec’s Future voting in favour.

The Parti Quebecois and the leftist Quebec solidaire rejected the legislation, which in its original form called for a 50-50 split between municipalities and unionized workers on pension contributions and deficits.

Amendments sought by the PQ and agreed to by the Liberals open the door to workers paying between 45 and 50 per cent, with municipalities paying between 50 and 55 per cent.

If the two sides can’t reach an agreement, the 50-50 share will apply.

Unionized workers say they will continue their protests against the law.

The Quebec government has said the changes are necessary because the pensions are running a $3.9-billion deficit.

Unions say they are being blamed for a deficit that was not of their own making.

The most recent major protest against Bill 3 was last week when noisy and disruptive demonstrations rolled across Quebec.

Firefighters blocked the main access to the Port of Montreal and there were also demonstrations in subway stations.

In Quebec City, municipal employees tried to prevent city buses from leaving a garage. There was also a protest at the site of a new $400-million amphitheatre that is under construction.

Another demonstration outside Montreal city hall took place as Mayor Denis Coderre presented the 2015 budget.

In August, the council chamber was overrun by about 250 unionized workers who barged in, tossed papers, threw glasses of water and smashed windows.

Employees like police officers, firefighters, public transit and other blue- and white-collar workers have been dressing down for months, wearing funky pants as well as plastering stickers over their vehicles.

Montreal police have donned bright red ball caps and shed their work-issue slacks for camouflage, fluorescent and multi-coloured pants to show their anger.

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