Quebec passes bill eliminating disparities in pension, benefits plans

Quebec has passed its bill eliminating disparities in pension and supplementary group benefits plans.

The bill was passed on Tuesday with a number of additions to the province’s labour standards, including the following paragraph: “Any distinction made solely on the basis of a hiring date, in relation to pension plans or other employee benefits, that affects employees performing the same tasks in the same establishment is also prohibited.”

Read: Quebec employers concerned about province’s plan to eliminate pension disparities

The Conseil du Patronat du Québec, which represents Quebec employers, is disappointed in the bill, noting it isn’t the right message to send if the province wants the investment of national and international employers.

“Despite public hearings, parliamentarians have shown no interest or understanding about some of the significant negative impacts of the bill, specifically with respect to differentiated pension and benefits plans and the compensation of employment agency workers,” said Yves-Thomas Dorval, president and chief executive officer of the organization, in a press release.

“It is unfortunate to see so few concerns about the negative effects on some of the most generous workplaces and the need for flexibility of employers, especially when the level of costs identified by the government (largely underestimated costs) is about $600 million a year for Quebec employers. Even the risk of witnessing more painful labour disputes resulting from Bill 176 is not taken into consideration.”

Read: PIAC warns of ‘unintended consequences’ of Quebec’s proposed disparity rules

On the other hand, the United Steelworkers union is hailing the labour law reforms, noting it will end discrimination against young workers.

“We are very proud to see that the battles led by so many Steelworkers’ members have been successful, not only in terms of their individual collective bargaining agreements, but also in playing a key role in shaping labour law in Quebec,” said the union’s Quebec director Alain Croteau, in a press release.

However, union’s leaders said they hoped the labour law reforms would have included transitional measures to resolve two-tier discrepancies that already exist in collective agreements. It’s an issue that still needs to be addressed, said Croteau.

“We will be asking our bargaining committees to put this issue at the top of their list of demands in future negotiations.”

Read: Quebec smelter employees reject proposal for two-tiered pension plan