In many ways, SSQ's developement over the years mirrors the changes our society
has gone through as a whole. A doctor passionate about social justice founded
the company when he stood up to denounce the fact that the working class
couldn't afford proper medical care and decided to resolve the situation by
forming a cooperative. The values that inspired Dr. Jacques Tremblay
continue to guide our Company in our objective of attaining sustainable
growth and social progress.
Discover SSQ’s history… in many ways, it’s a little of your own!
1940-1943: A Doctor Passionate about Social Justice
- Dr. Jacques Tremblay, a general practitioner and surgeon, denounced the fact that Quebec's
working class population couldn’t afford adequate medical care.
- He brought this problem to the public’s attention by sharing his convictions with both
colleagues and grass roots organizations.
1944-1945: From Idealism to Reality
- On May 9, 1944, Dr. Jacques Tremblay founded the Coopérative de santé de Québec. For a
minimum contribution (an annual fee of $5 and a monthly charge of $2.60 per family) members
could have access to medical care when needed.
- In December 1945, the cooperative was named Services de santé du Québec, which is the
origin of the letters in the SSQ logo.
1946-1949: The Cooperative Finds the Means to Grow
- The beginning of insurance operations was marked in 1946 with the underwriting of the first group insurance contract taken out by the Collège de Lévis.
- Coverage initially included medical consultations only, but was later broadened to include surgical and hospitalization fees.
- In 1948, Dr. Tremblay left the organization. Mr. Jacques de la Chevrotière, a young graduate in social science and industrial relations, was hired
by the board of directors to replace him. SSQ would remain under the stewardship of Jacques de la Chevrotière from 1949 to 1990.
1950-1955: Emergence of a Corporate Culture
- Under the initiative of Jacques de la Chevrotière, the cooperative embraced a new corporate culture which was focused on business development and customer satisfaction.
- Contributions were adjusted on the basis of risks specific to each group. Sales representatives established close ties with clients; and the term "advisor" was already in use at SSQ.
- In the fall of 1955, a desire for product diversification and continued growth led the cooperative to change its status. It became a democratically-run fraternal benefit society focused on group insurance.
1956-1965: Strong Growth and the Advent of Public Hospitalization Insurance
- SSQ broadened its clientele base, expanded its sales territory and introduced new products such as life and disability insurance.
- In 1961, the implementation of private hospitalization insurance robbed SSQ of a part of its mission. SSQ adjusted to the situation by offering coverage for services not included in the new public plan.
- Close links with labour unions helped foster business development. In 1965, after 20 years of operations, SSQ was on solid ground with annual earnings of close to $10 million and member shareholders’ equity at $1 million.
1966-1975: Construction of New Head Office and Public Health Insurance
- In 1966, following the example of the government, which had created its own pension plan, SSQ began
offering its clients additional coverage.
- Growth was strong during this period and new services were added: dental care, vision care and
chiropractic care, as well as prescription drug coverage.
- In 1969, SSQ moved its offices to its present head office location.
- In 1970, the introduction of public health insurance underscored important social progress,
but at the same time presented a new challenge for SSQ. Once again, it became necessary
for SSQ to restructure its operations.
- The public plan resulted in an increase in medical consultations and prescription drug use
beyond all forecasts. The company suffered losses in the order of $1 million, taking until
1973 to fully recover.
- In 1974, the Insurance Act modified the company’s status, resulting in SSQ becoming a mutual
life insurance company.
1976-1985: Democratic Life and Realty Sector Development
- in 1977, Léopold Marquis became director general of the company.
- Regional meetings were held and delegates were elected to represent members at the Annual General
Meeting (AGM). The participation and feedback of members helped SSQ stay attuned to the needs of
its clients as no other company in the field.
- In 1979, the company's assets surpassed the $100 million mark. In 1982, it began offering mortgage
loans and established a realty subsidiary.
- From 1975 to 1985, SSQ's income from premiums increased from $29 million to $146 million, an
average annual increase of 17%.
1986-1995: Casualty Insurance and Restructuring
- In response to requests by insured members at regional meetings, a casualty insurance subsidiary,
SSQ General Insurance, was created in 1986; Actuary Pierre Genest was mandated to head up the
- In 1989, SSQ’s subsidiary companies were consolidated into a holding company for which Pierre Genest
was named chief executive officer.
- In 1990, SSQ’s chief executive officer, Jacques de la Chevrotière, retired after 42 years of service.
Notary Yves Demers took over his functions.
- In 1991, Léopold Marquis, then president and head of operations, retired after 33 years of service.
Pierre Genest was called upon to replace him.
- SSQ Mutual split into SSQ Mutual Holding and SSQ, Life Insurance Company Inc. (SSQ Life).
- In 1992, SSQ went through a major crisis due to a series of setbacks resulting in a loss of $39 million.
The Quebec Solidarity Fund (QFL) became its main shareholder and the company quickly rebounded.
- In 1994, Pierre Genest was appointed chief executive officer of SSQ Life. Valorem Investment Counsel Inc.
was established in association with professional managers.
1996-2002: Drug Insurance Challenge and Canada-Wide Breakthrough
- In 1997, the creation of a combined public/private drug insurance plan presented a new challenge
for SSQ: the use and cost of prescription drugs saw unprecedented growth. The government doubled
its assessments and private insurers followed suit, imposing substantial increases to premiums.
- SSQ underwent a period of sustained growth. An important milestone was reached in 2000 when an
agreement was reached with the fiduciary committee representing Air Canada's 8,000 flight attendants:
this was SSQ’s first pan-Canadian group.
- The number of SSQ employees continued to grow topping the 1,000 mark in 2001.
- SSQ is now defined as a financial group and begins to refer itself as SSQ Financial Group
- In January 2002, Richard Bell took over the reins from Pierre Genest as chief executive officer
of the Company.
- Continuing its breakthrough in the Canadian group insurance market, SSQ opened a sales office in Toronto. SSQ was now ready to serve customers from coast to coast.
- In March 2002, SSQ Financial Group announced the sale of its Gestion de placements Valorem inc.
subsidiary to the Natcan Portfolio Management Company.
2003-2010: Growth years
- SSQ Financial Group earned the distinction of being named one of Canada's 50 Best Managed Companies.
- SSQ’s Group Insurance business line launched Health InSight, a program designed to help improve the
health and well-being of insureds.
- In April 2004, construction of a new office building adjacent to SSQ’s Head Office began and was
completed 18 months later on time and under budget. With over 240,000 sq. ft of rental floor space,
the new building houses SSQ General Insurance, over 400 employees of SSQ, Life Insurance Company Inc.,
as well as several other tenants.
- In 2005, SSQ Financial Group received a number of honorary distinctions. SSQ was awarded Gold Seal Certification from the Canadian Construction Association and the Armatura Award of Excellence from the Reinforcing Steel Institute of Quebec for the construction of its new office building. Also in 2005, SSQ was named Visionary Company of the Year at Quebec's prestigious Vision Trophy awards.
- In January 2006, SSQ broadened its clientele base with the launch of SSQ Privilege, a new product line
for individual clients offering Health, Dental, Life, and Long-Term Care Insurance.
- In April 2006, Mr. Yves Demers retired. Mr. Pierre Genest took over the reins as the new Chairman of the Board of Directors of both SSQ, Mutual Management Corporation and SSQ, Life Insurance Company Inc. He also sits on the Board of Directors of SSQ Realty Inc.
- In 2006, SSQ obtained the authorization to offer individual savings plans in the Ontario as well as to organizations regulated under federal jurisdiction.
- In 2008, Richard Bell retired after 21 years with SSQ Financial Group, seven of those spent as CEO. As a result of his leaving the company, René Hamel was appointed the new CEO of SSQ Financial Group.
2011-2012: A time marked by acquisitions
- Groupe Finance & Idemnisation, Service d'encadrement de directeur commercial and Phénix Avantage joined the SSQ Financial Group family. These companies, which specialize in the distribution of replacement insurance and credit insurance, allow us to offer a wider range of insurance products to clients when they purchase a vehicle at a car or recreational vehicle dealership.
- SSQ, Life Insurance Company Inc., with the participation of the Fonds de solidarité FTQ, purchased AXA Life Insurance Inc., now known as SSQ Insurance. This transaction has enabled SSQ Financial Group to improve its products and services and reorganize its work teams.
- SSQ, Life Insurance Company Inc. has distinguished itself by receiving the Canada Award for Excellence, Healthy Workplace® Gold award. This recognition demonstrates SSQ's commitment to offering its employees a healthy work environment.
- With a business volume over $3 billion and nearly $11 billion in assets under management, over one million clients and nearly 2,000 employees, SSQ Financial Group is continuing its steady, natural growth.