Around 1,700 Québec casino workers went on unlimited strike nearly three weeks ago, and there still appears to be no end in sight.
The initial gripe began in early June when Casino de Montréal employees threatened to strike during Grand Prix weekend. Ultimately, they did walk off the job when the F1 race was held in Montréal, and were joined by employees from gaming facilities in Gatineau, Mont-Tremblant, and Charlevoix.
According to the Casino de Montréal-CSN labour union representing the workers, wage discrepancies are at issue. Specifically, union leaders are pushing for wage increases that align with the rising cost of living, plus $1 per hour.
However, Loto-Québec, which operates the six casinos affected by strikes, says everything necessary for a deal is already in place.
Recent annual report produced inflammatory results for labour union
On June 7, Loto-Québec released its annual report for 2022-23. In it, the crown corporation posted record numbers across the board, including in the casino and gaming hall sector. Here, the company generated $1.1 billion in revenue, up $444 million or 67.6% over the previous fiscal year.
As expected, the report did everything but assuage the bitter feelings held by union leaders. For context, the figures became public just four days after workers at Casino de Montréal — the second-largest Canadian casino — warned of a potential strike.
With tensions quickly rising, the situation boiled over after the executive vice president of Loto-Québec, Kevin G. Taylor, saw his annual salary jump from $375,461 to $504,498. In other words, his earnings increased by 34% year over year.
In response, Riccardo Scopelleti, the president of the labour union, referred to the situation as “deplorable.”
Loto-Québec says union making unreasonable demands
A Loto-Québec spokesperson told PlayCanada reports of the salary boost were misrepresented.
“The union compared last year’s salary, when executives notably declined their bonus in the context of the pandemic, to this year’s salary when bonuses were paid. By the way, most CSN-affiliated employees are also entitled to benefit from the positive financial results through the incentive pay program.”
A Loto-Québec press release said the union is demanding, “double what was agreed upon with the rest of the organization’s employees over the last year… which alone account for a 24% increase over three years, among other demands.
“Loto-Québec is committed to offering good working conditions to all its employees. Casino salaries are well above the reference market — over 20% for most job classifications.”
Casinos remain open on modified schedules
While the six province-run casinos impacted by the strike will remain open, there will be certain limitations in terms of operating hours and available services. The individual schedules break down as such:
- Casino Montréal: Open daily from 2 p.m. to 2 a.m.
- Casino Mont-Tremblant and Hotel-Casino Charlevoix: Open Thursday through Sunday from 2 p.m. to midnight; closed Monday through Wednesday.
- Casino Lac-Leamy, Salon Québec, and Salon Trois‑Rivières: Open daily from 9 a.m. to 3 a.m.
Casino-goers will still have access to gaming options, but many restaurants have been forced to temporarily close or only offer takeout, per Loto-Québec. Additionally, casino nightclubs and other entertainment venues are also on hold.
Finally, the accompanying hotels at Charlevoix and Lac-Leamy remain open, though room service and bellhops aren’t currently available. Loto-Québec says other hotel amenities, such as pools, gyms, and spas are running without disruption.