CANADA

Montreal fire-fighters try for Toronto wages

A Montreal fire engine with the altered Toronto emblem Montreal fire-fighters are arguing for a pay rise to equal their Toronto counterparts- who have just received a three per cent rise. But because of a law in Quebec that prohibits emergency services from going on strike, the workers have had to find a more innovative way to complain. To get their message across the stations are plastering a new emblem on their engines. An altered version of the Toronto motif, where the original features Toronto's landmark ; Montreal's version has the equally famous Montreal Olympic Stadium in its place. Their message to the council is clear: we want equal pay.

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A Montreal fire engine with the altered Toronto emblem

Montreal fire-fighters are arguing for a pay rise to equal their Toronto counterparts- who have just received a three per cent rise. But because of a law in Quebec that prohibits emergency services from going on strike, the workers have had to find a more innovative way to complain. To get their message across the stations are plastering a new emblem on their engines. An altered version of the Toronto motif, where the original features Toronto's landmark CN Tower; Montreal's version has the equally famous Montreal Olympic Stadium in its place. Their message to the council is clear: we want equal pay.

This story reflects greater concerns for Montreal. Since the late sixties Toronto has taken the lead over the city in economic and cultural development, draining the former industrial and financial centre of its resources and creating a bitter rivalry between the two major cities.

The new emblem in action

 

Comment from Laurent Arel, from the Association of Montreal fire-fighters:

The Montreal fire-fighters are making a statement with this emblem. They’re reminding the administration of mayor Gérald Tremblay that Toronto's mayor has given respect to his fire-fighters. The emblem will remain in this state until contractual negotiations are initiated and the city shows good will in the talks. "

Response from Valérie De Gagné, Montreal City Council press officer

We can't compare the situation in Montreal with that in Toronto because they're two different cities. Everyone knows that the cost of living in Toronto is 10 to 15% more expensive. So you can't compare the economic situation. We are following the city order; it's the same for all the unions. This financial budget was set out by the city to suit spending costs. Wages in Montreal are wages in Quebec, not Ontario. We set out wages depending on our current conditions here in Montreal, and economic forecasting has helped make these decisions. It's just not as simple as saying ‘they get more than us'. In the end the decision has been made. But we'll always listen to the views of the Association of Montreal fire-fighters."

From left to right: the original Toronto and Montreal emblems, and the replacement Montreal emblem, where Toronto's landmark tower has been replaced by Montreal's Olympic Station.