04/03/2014 01:26 EDT | Updated 06/03/2014 05:59 EDT

Montreal to cut 2,200 jobs over next five years

The City of Montreal announced plans Thursday to eliminate 2,200 jobs over the next five years.

The cuts would see one out of every two positions left vacant by retirement or other departures eliminated.

The cuts would amount to a reduction of the city’s workforce by around 10 per cent.

The cuts do not include police or fire department employees by the end of the period.

The plan would save an estimated $240-million over five years, and up to $2 billion over 10 years, according to the city.

“While complying with collective agreements, we will take measures to reduce the number of employees and the annual wage budget,” Montreal’s Mayor, Denis Coderre, told a news conference.

The bulk of the savings would go toward improvements to the city’s infrastructure.

In order to become a reality, however, the plan will require the agreement of the city's boroughs.

Approximately 30% of the cuts are expected to involve borough employees.

Coderre said that it would be the boroughs' loss if they voted against the measures.

"They need more money for infrastructure and we're willing to do it, let's all work together," he said.

According to city documents, salaries and benefits for its employees now represent just under 52 per cent of its total budget, an increase of more than nine per cent since 2002.

At the same time, the city is facing an annual deficit of around $800 million when it comes to infrastructure maintenance.

The city budgets an average of $1.3 billion for infrastructure maintenance, but its actual estimated needs call for $2.1 billion.

Coderre said the city’s new five and 10-year plans will hopefully close that gap.

"We have a light at the end of the tunnel," Coderre said. 

A look at city employment figures between 2004 and 2014 show decreases in the white collar, blue collar and management categories, but a significant increase in the number of "professionals" hired by the city over the 10-year period.

When asked about this, Coderre said that it's something they will have to consider. 

"We will take a look. All the departments will have to do their homework," he said.