Neo-Liberal Restructuring of the
Progress Will Only be Made Through
Political Arrangements that Recognize the People's Right to Decide
Demonstrate Against Austerity!
Gather at 12:00 noon
Montréal: Place du
(corner of Peel and René-Lévesque)
Quebec City: Parc des
Champs-de-Bataille (Plains of Abraham)
Neo-Liberal Restructuring of the State
• Progress Will Only be Made
Political Arrangements that Recognize
the People's Right to
Decide - Forum ouvrier
• Treasury Board Gives Itself Full
Powers over Public Sector Staffing Levels
Health Care and Social Services
• Pay-the-Rich Schemes Put People
Risk of Not Receiving Services and Treatments
Couillard Governement's Austerity Agenda
• Municipal Workers' Day of Action
Defends Pensions and the Rights of All
Neo-Liberal Restructuring of the State
Progress Will Only be Made Through
Political Arrangements that Recognize the
People's Right to Decide
neo-liberal offensive being imposed in Quebec will have serious
consequences. Far from solving an alleged
crisis in public finances,
the neo-liberal offensive and its accompanying structural reforms has
the aim to recognize monopoly right and destroy the arrangements based
on public right. The so-called budgetary crisis has become the
permanent pretext to facilitate the massive transfer of wealth created
by the working class to the financial oligarchy, and the usurpation and
concentration of political power in their hands.
Opposition to the austerity agenda continues to grow.
are demanding that new arrangements be established on the basis of the
of their rights, not their negation. The problems facing the society
will not be settled by invoking a financial crisis to deny rights. The
agenda has been the official policy for 20 years and has only made the
situation worse. Workers need modern political arrangements that
They are willing to take up the responsibility of charting a new
direction for Quebec.
The various collectives opposing the direction being
taken by the
new Liberal government -- municipal employees, health care workers,
others -- have an abundance of ideas and solutions to the
problems. Instead of giving these solutions proper consideration, the
Liberals only care about
the measures proposed by the financial oligarchy and its ruling circle.
They propose bills aimed at giving decision-making power to a few
are currently setting up a new United States of North
This is why the government wants to pass Bill 10 to
reorganize the health care system. The bill centralizes power in
the hands of
the Health Minister so he can more easily promote the interests of the
pharmaceutical companies and private businesses that deliver health
Similarly Bill 15, concerning workforce management within government
departments, will concentrate power in the hands of the President of
Board so he can pass regulations as he sees fit. Bill 3, concerning
pension plans for municipal employees, will give more flexibility to
the mayors of major
cities, in particular Montreal and Quebec City, to privatize municipal
services. Following the November 2 school board elections, the Premier
undertake fundamental changes that will affect how decisions are taken
in education. Again the reason is to privatize the delivery of
paid for by the public purse.
is also Philippe Couillard's eagerness to support the war government of
Stephen Harper and his new laws that give even more power to the police
and intelligence services. Not to mention that Couillard seems to be
taking his cue from the almost dictatorial powers of the Prime
Minister's Office. The
political equation is simple: the more the Liberals concentrate power
in their hands, the more the workers' movement and workers'
defence organizations come under attack. The negation of civil rights
becomes the new political norm.
The new era that lies ahead
requires serious deliberation by the
working class and people about what is going on, so that governments
are not able to
deprive us of the political power which is ours by right, the right to
determine our future. While we continue to reject the neo-liberal
program of paying
the rich, the working class and people must discuss and organize for
democratic renewal in a practical way.
Forum ouvrier calls on all workers to think
these developments. For us, our security lies in our fight for the
rights of all.
The fraud used by governments to justify decisions that promote private
monopoly interests must be rejected. The dangerous legal framework to
civil rights must not pass. Our humanity will flourish through the
affirmation of the rights of all, not their negation.
Treasury Board Gives Itself Full Powers over
Public Sector Staffing Levels
The Couillard government's Bill 15, An Act
management and control within government departments, public sector
bodies and networks and state-owned enterprises, tabled October 9,
is one of the major bills the government wants passed. It is sponsored
by Martin Coiteux, Minister
responsible for Government Administration and Ongoing Program Review
and Treasury Board Chair. In his various interventions on the bill,
Minister Coiteux said the bill is central to achieving a zero deficit
and what he called the "restructuring of the state." In other words, it
is part of putting in place the arrangements
the ruling circles require to overthrow the
public authority, in favour of the private interests which have usurped
Section 1 of the bill says
"The purpose of this Act is to strengthen
workforce management and control mechanisms within public bodies so as,
in particular, to monitor and provide a framework for changes in the
workforce." In fact, what Bill 15 does is give powers to the Treasury
Board Chair and Ministers dealing
with the public sector workforce, which concern the size of the
workforce, as well as planning, monitoring, reporting, verification and
corrective measures and sanctions for the workforce.
The bill will require all public bodies to regularly
report to their
respective Minister on workforce levels and staff distribution by job
category. Each Minister then submits a staffing profile to the Chair of
Treasury Board describing the development plans for each body
for which that Minister is responsible.
The Treasury Board will then determine the overall size of the
workforce for that ministry and/or its public bodies. The bill does not
provide criteria for Ministers to set staffing levels. It says only
that the organizations will be required to abide by the staffing levels
set by the Treasury Board and the staff distribution
as decided by the Minister. Failure to comply could result in an
investigation, cancellation of subsidies, loss of control over budgets
and temporary administration by the Minister, as well as trusteeship.
How Bill 15 defines a public body is very broad. It
ministries and all bodies associated with them. For example, the
Ministry of Labour includes the Commission on Labour Standards and the
Quebec Construction Commission. Other public bodies include state-owned
enterprises such as Hydro-Québec,
Investment Québec and the Quebec Liquor Corporation (SAQ). Also
included are school boards, CÉGEPs, the University of Quebec and
constituent universities, research institutes and schools of higher
learning as well as health and social services agencies.
Bill 15 takes as its starting point the global freeze on
the public sector for the year 2015-2016 (at 2014 levels) imposed by
the Treasury Board. Thus, if staffing levels are increased in one area,
they must be reduced by an equivalent number elsewhere.
Everything is presented as a matter of decontextualized
irrespective of the actual conditions within public services and those
of the workers who provide those services, which are already untenable.
The Treasury Board Chair "reasons" that the slightly more than 6,000
workers who are added each year
to public sector bodies contribute to the budget deficit. If hiring
these additional workers does not take place, that much money will be
saved and contribute to a balanced budget. Failing this, cuts will have
to be made elsewhere to attain the zero deficit that the government has
committed to achieving in 2015-2016,
the Treasury Board Chair says.
The Treasury Board has absolutely no qualifications to
what is required to deliver public services or the working conditions
and staffing levels the workers require. Yet, it is given full powers
over services and the workers who provide them. Based on the phony
criteria of whether or not something
facilitates a zero deficit, workers are viewed as mere statistics which
add to "costs" because they require salaries and social benefits.
The Treasury Board is also given full powers regarding
subcontracting. In the bill, any proposed subcontract over $25,000 must
be authorized by the Minister and may be cancelled if the Treasury
Board decides that it is being used as a means to circumvent the hiring
freeze. Conversely, the Treasury Board could
declare that more subcontracting is necessary to fulfill staffing needs.
This constitutes a major
concentration of power in the hands of the
Treasury Board and Ministers, which will only aggravate the conditions
and create maximum instability in the public services, that have
already been damaged by decades of the anti-social offensive.
Bill 15's decrees conditions that are impossible and
the physical and mental well-being of service users and workers, while
providing impunity to the private interests which have usurped power by
Only once does the bill mention the issue of services or
of the public and the worker, in Article 12, where it says that "the
workforce must be managed in a manner that maintains the services
provided to the public." It is fraudulent to say that services will be
maintained while freezing and cutting the
workforce. The Treasury Board and Ministers give themselves plausible
deniability by saying that they have cut nothing -- these are only cuts
to operations and administration, not services, they claim -- and have
the power to impose further administrative measures against those who
do not fall into line. This means
that an even greater burden falls to the workers to maintain the
system, at the expense of their physical and mental health. Meanwhile,
the government tries to cover up its wrecking by sowing doubt in the
workers' claims that occupational burnout is decimating their ranks.
Bill 15 is an escalation of the devastating anti-social
offensive and must be withdrawn.
Privatization of Health Care and Social
Pay-the-Rich Schemes Put People at Risk of
Receiving Services and Treatments
November 13, Quebec Minister of Health and Social Services
Barrette held a press conference at the conclusion of the special
on Bill 10, An Act to Modify the Organization and Governance of
the Health and Social Services Network, in Particular by Abolishing the
Agencies. Fifty-nine groups were heard and 88 briefs were
received during the consultations. Barrette used the occasion to
reiterate that he is in a hurry
to get the bill passed before the end of the year so that it is in
effect as of April 1, 2015.
Bill 10 provides for the abolition of health care and
services agencies and the amalgamation of other facilities in a given
area. Across Quebec,
182 facilities will be whittled down to 28. The management of each of
the 28 establishments will be assigned to a president/executive
director and an
assistant, both appointed by the Minister. The boards of directors will
be comprised of 13-15 people each, all appointed by the Minister. In
addition to his
powers of appointment, the Minister is given almost unlimited powers of
intervention and can remove managers if he considers them to be acting
outside his guidelines. Bill 10 is directly aimed at the unions
and uses, amongst other things, provisions of Bill 30 passed by the
that includes changes to union certification and the renegotiation of
working conditions following the amalgamation of facilities.
Faced with numerous
criticisms presented in the briefs
concentration of powers in the hands of the Minister of Health,
Barrette said he
was considering amending his powers of appointment, perhaps limiting
them to one term. He will keep what he refers to as powers of
Management appointed by him is accountable to him for the
implementation of his decisions. It is he who decides on the allocation
of services and he answers
to no one. Barrette continued:
for the powers as they are defined today, I would not hand them to my
predecessor, or to anyone in the PQ for that matter, because such
in the hands of people who have an ideology as their first objective
rather than providing services to patients could pose a problem."
For Barrette to suggest that the Liberal Party does not
act on the
ideological basis of neo-liberalism is fraud. The Couillard
of health care is neo-liberal wrecking that has nothing to do with
rendering services to patients.
In order to hide his refusal
to talk about the kind of
would benefit the public, he takes issue with the trade unions, seeking
to discredit them
from the get-go by suggesting that because they are an organized force,
they are not to be listened to. Answering a question from a journalist
interpretation of widespread opposition to the bill at the
parliamentary committee level, Barrette stated that the purpose of the
reform is to target the workers'
organized resistance to attacks on health care. He said that opposition
came only from the unions and that that opposition must be seen within
of negotiations. This is not true. He classified those who presented
briefs in order to denigrate and marginalize some of them. "The
to which you refer is organizational. We are in a period of
negotiation. And I would point out that the groups that came are
basically three types: there are
groups that I would call institutional, health care professionals;
there are community groups, which were very, very, highly represented,
and it was a very
good thing, because what they had to say was very clear; and then those
from the strictly union milieu."
Barrette failed to mention that one of the main
complaints about the
bill from the public, individuals and organizations is that it was
hatched behind closed
doors and that those who are the most affected -- health care and
social services workers who are aware of the problems and needs of the
people and are
demanding major investments in human and material resources in
hospitals, local community service centres (CLSCs), long-term care
etc. -- were simply excluded.
10 must be looked at as part of the restructuring of the state through
which the rich and their governments are pushing the anti-social
10 concentrates power in the hands of the Minister and reduces the
health care system to a small number of giant institutions that will
make it easier to cut
entire services and push the private delivery of services by monopolies
under the cover of public health care insurance. Barrette himself has
said Bill 10 will
be accompanied by other measures that will address the funding of
public services based on "efficiency and productivity." Finance
Minister Carlos Leitao
said recently that it is not absolutely necessary that the state
deliver public services. "What matters to citizens is to have the
service. Who provides them,
whether it be the state or someone else is secondary."
This is the essence of the fraud. The private delivery
health care services is not at all a secondary issue because the profit
motive of private
delivery dilapidates public funds while providing fewer services at a
lower standard, over which the public does not have control.
All scenarios, including
privatization, should be looked
at in order
to save money, Barrette said. "There are a lot of community
organizations that can
deliver social services. It's cheaper than if it is a network," he
said. He added that the private sector and non-profit community groups
alternatives to the state to ensure more efficient service delivery.
For example, he said, rehabilitation services for children with
disabilities, currently provided
by the Ministry of Health and Social Services, could be transferred to
the community sector. Everything is on the table, he said.
Bill 10 is the first in a series of bills and other
the Couillard government intends to pass, in addition to what will be
following the ongoing program review presently underway. Nobody is
fooled by the Health Minister's stories of prejudice and diversion.
Nothing good will
come of the bill and it should be scrapped.
Protests Against Couillard Government's
Municipal Workers' Day of Action Defends Pensions and
the Rights of All
Port of Montreal, November 26, 2014
On November 26, municipal workers across Quebec held
actions to denounce attacks on their pensions and their right to
collective bargaining, especially through the Couillard government's
Bill 3, An Act to foster the financial health and sustainability
of municipal defined benefit pension plans.
The government wants to pass the bill next week.
Bill 3 annuls pension agreements signed between
unions, prohibits any future negotiations on retirement conditions,
imposes 50-50 cost-sharing for existing and future plans, and for past
deficits, and ends pension indexing.
According to the Coalition syndicale pour la libre
which organized the day of action, 25 municipal employee union locals
across Quebec held a one-day strike to mark the day of action. In many
instances, workers who could not legally strike refused to cross the
Port of Montreal
In Montreal, beginning at 6:00 am, all the entrances to
the Port of
Montreal were blocked by municipal workers and other workers who came
to lend a hand. The riot squad was sent in, but the gates remained shut
and the port remained paralyzed for the day. An important factor for
the success of the blockade
was the longshoremen's refusal to cross the municipal workers' picket
At the same time on the transit system, staff in ticket
bus drivers offered up free rides on the system for a period.
At Montreal City Hall, workers blocked the main entrance
building during Mayor Denis Coderre's presentation of the 2015 budget.
Coderre and his counterpart in Quebec City, Régis Lebeaume, are
main spokespeople for Bill 3.
Montreal City Hall
In Quebec City, work on the New Quebec City Amphitheatre
disrupted at 6:30 am, when access to the site was partially blocked by
dozens of workers.
In Gatineau, more than 500 workers marched through the
rallied in front of the Quebec Provincial Court building to denounce
the Couillard government. The main message was that this is just the
beginning and workers vowed they would fight until the government
stopped its unjust attacks on pensions.
The workers are also aware that the attacks on their
part of a broader program to lower all their working and living
conditions and that this must not pass.
Firefighters Oppose Criminalization of Their Struggle
related news, on November 21, more than 350 firefighters from the
Montreal Firefighters Association held a demonstration outside the
headquarters of the Montreal Fire Department to express their
unwavering support for six of their colleagues
who were fired and around 50 who have been suspended following
incidents during a protest at City Hall in August. Forty of these
workers face criminal charges of mischief and unlawful assembly under
the City of Montreal's P6 bylaw. They pleaded not guilty in court on
October 2, and are now waiting for the hearings
Throughout the rally, firefighters expressed their anger
criminalization of their struggle and the legalized theft of their
pensions. The President of the Montreal Firefighters Association
Ronald Martin denounced the Couillard government and Coderre
administration for their attack on long established
labour relations and their efforts to provoke maximum confrontation
with municipal employees rather than negotiate with them.
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