​SSQ, an ongoing tradition (1985-1990)

In 1984, backed by $288 million in assets and $18 million in equity, SSQ wrote a new chapter in its history.

That same year, Quebec became the first jurisdiction in Canada to adopt a policy of "decompartmentalization" in a bid to eliminate barriers between the financial system's four central pillars (banks, insurers, trust companies and securities brokers). This decision reflected a trend towards economic neo-liberalism, along with the emergence of "Quebec Inc.", i.e., businesses developed by francophones with capital provided by public sector bodies such as the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ) and the Société générale de financement (SGF), under programs such as the provincial registered stock savings plan (Régime enregistré d'épargne-actions), or by private funds such as the provincial labour federation's solidarity fund (Fonds de solidarité des travailleurs du Québec).

Recognized as the group insurance specialist and health insurance leader, SSQ developed as a mutual insurance company by upholding its core values, focusing on users rather than profits and treating its employees with respect.

Modernization and growth

Long associated with the union movement, SSQ presented itself in the early 1980s as a company offering services to all Quebecers. It also made major inroads with association groups in 1982 (this institutional sector was solicited via actuarial consultants and brokers). SSQ's name recognition in Quebec, which stemmed first and foremost from its service quality, was given a fresh boost by the growing wave of economic nationalism, which brought new clienteles with it. Due to its status as a mutual insurance company, however, it had limited financial resources to pursue the path of development. And its Canada-wide ranking was far from impressive in an industry dominated by a handful of large mutual life insurance companies, all anglophone-controlled. These competitors had been building equity for over a century and had substantial assets under management.

Developing the business while maintaining service quality

Appointed CEO in 1977, Léopold Marquis devised a plan centred around technological innovation and intended to burnish SSQ's reputation for service. A new system for administering disability insurance benefits was put in place in 1984. Service for insured members was faster and group administrators were issued detailed reports in support of their on-the-job performance.1 The second phase of Marquis' plan, completed in 1985, related to pension plans and life insurance.2 Modernization of work methods and processes continued until the early 1990s, mobilizing staff and requiring major investments.

For Léopold Marquis, modernization was essential: "Tomorrow's competitors will not only be focused on the quality of insurance products as such, but also on how these products are marketed to clients."3 Clearly, SSQ was not the only company seeking to enhance its IT systems at that time. But its group insurance specialization meant that highly sophisticated technical and administrative resources were needed to facilitate the compilation of insured members' coverage choices, to update files and to provide accurate information when needed, all while keeping insured members' expenses to a minimum. Increased efficiency allowed SSQ to increase its business volume, which was achieved primarily through diversification.

Diversifying SSQ's operations and investments

In seeking to diversify its operations, SSQ was merely following an industrywide trend in the 1980s. Already present in the group annuity sector, SSQ launched "SÉCUREER", its first individual RRSP product, in 1980. However, it was the decision to establish a general insurance subsidiary and to acquire a mutual benefit association operating in the area of individual life insurance that marked SSQ's expanded operations.

Tomorrow's competitors will not only be focused on the quality of insurance products as such, but also on how these products are marketed to clients.

Still, group insurance remained the main focus. In 1986, SSQ's chairman, Jacques de la Chevrotière, offered the following comments on legislative changes that enabled financial institutions to decompartmentalize their operations:

[…] Group insurance must remain the foundation of our present and future action. We have forged a solid reputation as effective and dynamic specialists in this area. This is a valued asset that we must preserve. It will also enable us to open up new paths to development, as we have done in the general insurance sector.4

SSQ thus redefined its mission based on these new conditions.

However, the clienteles that comprised large insured groups in the public and parapublic sectors both underpinned SSQ's success and represented its Achilles heel. In 1982, the company lost a major group, the Centrale de l'enseignement du Québec (CEQ/former teachers' union), leading to a significant decline in revenues. This was a severe blow to the company, which had always enjoyed good relations with union leaders. SSQ's assistant sales manager, Jean-Claude Tremblay, vowed to win back the CEQ before he retired, a feat he achieved in 1989.

The company also benefitted from its actuarial experience with these same groups. Its longstanding relationships enabled SSQ to better evaluate risks during the insurance quote process. However, a group that had filed few claims in the past could still become more vulnerable overnight. This is what occurred in early 1990 with the Fédération des infirmières et infirmiers du Québec (provincial nursing federation).5 The provincial government's budget cutbacks had led to a sudden deterioration in working conditions in the healthcare sector. In actual fact, however, expenditures in the healthcare and social services sector, as a percentage of gross domestic product, fell by only 0.5% from 1984 to 1989, while labour productivity in hospitals rose by 3.8%.6 This increased workload, combined with job insecurity, had an impact on the benefits paid out by SSQ, particularly for long-term disability insurance.

Diversification stood out as a new milestone in the company's development. Long confined to health insurance, SSQ collected premiums from unionized groups and almost immediately thereafter paid out these amounts as benefits. The addition of disability insurance and annuities to the range of products available led to a steady accumulation of reserve funds, which were used to meet the company's long-term commitments to insured members. As a result, the scale of investments grew. Marcel Poulin, hired in 1968 as financial controller, also oversaw SSQ's investments; beginning in 1970, they were administered by a committee made up of managers, board members and external resources. Total investments rose from $6 million to $67 million over a 10-year period, finally topping $531 million in 1988. In that same year, more than 40% of total premiums collected came from pension plans and life insurance, up from less than 22% in 1976 (see table below).

Breakdown of premiums by coverage type

(in millions of dollars)

  1976 1980 1984 1988
Pension plans 1.8 15.4 23.1 50.9
Life insurance 6.1 12.4 20.2 29.0
Disability insurance 10.1 21.8 34.5 43.2
Health insurance 18.3 22.9 34.2 52.5
Dental care - 2.2 6.9 17.5
Total 36.3 74.7 118.9 193.1

Source: SSQ annual reports

In 1976, municipal, school board and hospital bonds still accounted for more than 80% of SSQ's investment portfolio, generating an attractive low-risk return. The investment committee then came up with the idea of offering mortgage loans.7 Once board approval had been obtained, SSQ went ahead with the plan and launched its mortgage business in 1980. In late 1984, 386 mortgages totalling $43.5 million had been issued to members and the general public.8 Five years later, mortgages accounted for one-third of SSQ's investment revenues. This growth was also fuelled by the company's decision to assert its presence in Montreal by opening an office on Boulevard René Lévesque in 1984.9

Following the investment committee's decision to focus on real estate in 1980, a related subsidiary was established in 1982 (Société immobilière SSQ). Jacques de la Chevrotière offered this explanation: "This type of activity usually generates a higher return than what one can expect from other types of investments. In addition, the increase in the market value of real estate normally hedges against the effects of inflation."10 The realty subsidiary possessed a budget for acquiring buildings and/or overseeing their construction. In the space of just a few years, this subsidiary, headed by Conrad-F. Johnson, acquired a number of prestigious properties, including the Parc Samuel Holland complex in Quebec City and the Papineau-Lévesque complex in Montreal. By late 1990, it was leasing out 1,020 residential units and 675,000 sq. ft. of commercial space.11 That same year, it brought a major project to completion when the Tour des Laurentides (Laurentian Tower) was erected alongside the Tour Saint-Laurent (St. Lawrence Tower), doubling the size of SSQ's headquarters on Boulevard Laurier in Quebec City.

Following the launch of its mortgage and realty subsidiaries, SSQ decided to branch out into general insurance. At the request of certain insured groups, in particular the social affairs division of the Confédération des syndicats nationaux (CSN), SSQ moved into this new market in 1986 (general insurance includes both automobile and home insurance).12 The company had ventured into a sector marked by significant ups and downs, not to mention cutthroat competition.13 SSQ adopted a collective marketing policy by signing memorandums of understanding with groups whose members were subsequently solicited by underwriting agents who offered them coverage tailored to their needs.14 The first group recruited in this way consisted of Québec Telephone employees.15

In Quebec, the general insurance sector had been long dominated by British and American companies operating on a "strictly business" basis, i.e., collecting premiums and paying benefits to policyholders. SSQ members felt they would be better served by their own company than by these foreign institutions. Nevertheless, some senior managers were reluctant to develop this market. Although Jacques de la Chevrotière backed the idea, he wanted the general insurance subsidiary to get its start in the Quebec market, where the company had solid roots. Meanwhile, newly appointed CEO Pierre Genest saw a better chance of success in Montreal since the Quebec City region was already served by Desjardins, La Capitale and L'Industrielle. Recruiting a team for telemarketing, a popular technique at the time, would have been more difficult in Quebec City.

"We had to start from scratch!" said Pierre Genest.16 Genest, an actuary by training, built his team around his colleague René Hamel, who became assistant general manager and enthusiastically embraced the challenge of launching SSQ's new insurance subsidiary. "It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," said Hamel, adding: "Although I joined SSQ for the challenge, I stayed for the values!" But the daunting challenge ahead was no match for the energy of these men, who were still forced to take on the competition with only modest resources at their disposal. The new subsidiary began operations with $3 million in capital, which was soon increased to $4 million to facilitate its expansion.

From September 1986 to April 1987, Pierre Genest and René Hamel rolled up their sleeves and built SSQ, Société d'assurances générales (SSQ, General Insurance Company Inc.) with the assistance of a handful of key collaborators. Focusing on financing and business development, Genest signed memorandums of agreement with various groups, while Hamel set up the administrative systems and reinsurance programs and put together a telemarketing team. A computer system, developed in Toronto, was purchased for the modest sum of $100,000, with SSQ overseeing the production of a French-language version. This provided an unprecedented opportunity for the company, although it also posed a certain number of risks as the system had never been completely road-tested. In the end, it remained in use for 25 years!

The general insurance subsidiary opened for business with around 10 employees. The first clients were not too hard to find since the new auto and home insurance products were offered to the parent company's existing groups. Founded with the strategic goal of securing customer loyalty, the subsidiary recorded an operating surplus sooner than expected, in 1991. Premiums written that year were up 47.8%; SSQ, General Insurance Company Inc. had approximately 23,000 policyholders and 50 employees.17

As Pierre Genest was organizing the new subsidiary, SSQ marked a new milestone in its diversification process by acquiring the assets of Les Assurances La Mutualité, a mutual benefit association.18 This company, which had 16 employees at its Sainte-Foy headquarters and a distribution network of 13 insurance representatives, eventually changed its name (to La Mutualité, Société d'assurance-vie inc.) and became an SSQ subsidiary in late 1987.

La Mutualité was given a capital infusion to facilitate its expansion as SSQ fulfilled its pledge to offer individual life insurance products by drawing on La Mutualité's existing administrative staff and established distribution network. SSQ also posted a marked increase in its business volume (La Mutualité had already issued 78,000 policies valued at $266 million).19 The parent company invested $3 million in the subsidiary and, following the CEO's retirement, replaced the management team and carried out a top-to-bottom restructuring.20

SSQ's modernization process also hinged on IT improvements and the development of new products as several dozen brokers joined forces with La Mutualité's exclusive agents. These measures contributed to the subsidiary's growth; its financial results were very encouraging, not only in terms of policies in force, but also as regards contributions to overall surpluses.

In 1988, SSQ acquired a major stake in Services Financiers Capital Inc., which offered professional financial planning services, along with products tailored to various specific needs.21 In 1990, diversification was also undertaken outside the financial sector in the form of a $3 million investment in the preferred shares of Polycor Inc., which controlled 100% of Société Minière Polycor Inc. (SMP), which specialized in granite mining and distribution around the world. This investment paved the way for SMP's acquisition of Granit Bussière Inc., which processed granite for the construction industry.22

In 1990, the three subsidiaries—SSQ Realty Inc., SSQ General Insurance Company Inc. and La Mutualité—accounted for only 6.5% of SSQ, Mutual Group Insurance's $332 million in revenues and 13.5% of its $781 million in assets.23 Despite diversification, group insurance remained the main activity. This situation was also marked by major changes to SSQ's organizational structure.

Changes to SSQ's organizational structure

Mutual insurers' equity came almost exclusively from surpluses generated by regular operations. However, year-to-year surpluses were limited by the vigorous competition engaged in by many companies and by steady cost increases. Some companies opted for decompartmentalization with an eye to increasing their revenue sources, with varying degrees of success. In 1990, SSQ took part in the task force on mutual insurer financing established by the Quebec government to investigate the capitalization problems of Quebec-based mutual insurers and formulate recommendations. In its report filed in October 1990, the task force (chaired by Raymond Garneau) called for the creation of a financing corporation authorized to issue government-backed long-term securities to Quebec-based mutual insurers.24 But provincial law-makers did not move forward with the proposal and the idea was shelved.

In 1989, SSQ, Mutual Group Insurance applied the provisions of the Act to amend the Act respecting insurance and other legislation (adopted in 1984) in order to set up a holding company (La Financière SSQ) to finance its development. Following in the footsteps of La Laurentienne and other Quebec-based mutual insurance companies, SSQ made full use of this new mechanism, which allowed it to team up with partners to finance specific projects. La Financière then acquired SSQ's real estate, general insurance and life insurance subsidiaries. SSQ's CEO, Jacques de la Chevrotière, and La Financière's COO, Pierre Genest, offered members these reassurances: "SSQ, Mutual Group Insurance is the sole shareholder of La Financière SSQ and, under the provisions of the [Insurance] Act, must always remain the majority shareholder."25 For that reason, SSQ remained a partnership rather than a joint stock company.

SSQ's team

Headed by two industrial relations specialists and overseen by a board on which half the positions were held by union representatives, the company attached special importance to its staff, which served a clientele of wage-earners. Although its members were better trained, the new senior management team was just as enthusiastic as SSQ's founders.

SSQ's workforce

SSQ's workforce was the key to its service quality. Maurice Savoie was in charge of human resources from 1977 until 2004. The industrial relations specialist (and also the company's youngest officer when he was hired as assistant manager in 1971) bridged the generation gap between the company's founders and its successors. From 1984 to 1991, the workforce more than doubled to 660 employees, mostly based at SSQ's Quebec City headquarters.

Following the strike in 1971, working conditions improved significantly. Salary scales were adopted, making the company more attractive for insurance representatives and office staff alike (the insurance companies in the Quebec City region all recruited from the same pool of candidates). Although SSQ stopped short of approving co-management of the company, which some observers called for at the time, management did focus on communication with employees, which strengthened their sense of belonging. Mutual respect made it possible to take on challenges associated with technological change in the 1980s, particularly staff retraining, and the company's fast-paced growth. When groups totalling more than 100,000 new members were signed up in 1989, the HR department's adaptability was fully put to the test.26 Although new employees were hired, this dramatic development meant more work for all concerned, although it had no impact on the normal course of business.27 Motivating employees is easy in times of strong growth!

The company's dynamic performance also hinged on its ability to recruit senior managers from other insurers in the Quebec City region. The creation of a professional employment category in 1984 marked the beginning of efforts to better recognize such skills. This decision was opposed by the union representing the office staff, which feared an "erosion of union membership". At the time, a dozen specialists (finance, actuarial, administration, IT) were employed by SSQ, although there were plans to recruit more in the future. To position the company strategically in relation to the insurance industry, Maurice Savoie used salary surveys to determine managers' financial compensation. The opportunity to join an enthusiastic team and a fast-growing company remained his main hiring argument, however.28 At a time when Quebec's business community was coming into its own, SSQ was on the lookout for individuals willing to take on the challenge of developing a mutual group insurance company that had taken shape in a working-class district of Quebec City in the 1940s.

Loyalty to the company, whether among employees or senior management, was attributable to many factors. The fact that SSQ's insurance representatives, office staff and, later on, professional staff were unionized was a key retention factor in an industry in which unions were relatively uncommon. "Working conditions were always very good," said Jean-Claude Tremblay, who began working at SSQ in 1960 as an insurance representative and spent more than 32 years of his life with the company."29 In general, most of the employees planned to make their careers at SSQ […]. We have employees with 30, 35 and 40 years of service." The statistics bear him out: in 1994, 12% of the 495 regular employees had completed at least 25 years of service.30 But the most important factor was their sense of belonging. In the words of Jean-Claude Tremblay, "We see SSQ as our own company."

Senior officers

SSQ differed from other Quebec insurers in its main operating sector: group insurance. In the 1980s, various holders of key positions had academic backgrounds in the social sciences or, in the case of Jean-Claude Tremblay, were steeped in cooperative values. Throughout the mandates of Jacques de la Chevrotière and Léopold Marquis, the social aspects of insurance took precedence over technical and financial issues. The 1960s and 1970s saw the arrival of SSQ's first actuaries, who would go on to play an increasingly important role.


Jacques de la Chevrotière
General Manager
(October 1949-March 1977)
Chairman of the Board
(March 1977-October 1990)

Jacques de la Chevrotière: a lasting impact

From 1977 to 1990, Jacques de la Chevrotière chaired SSQ's board of directors. A resident of Sorel (200 km south-west of Quebec City), he attended the board meetings but gave senior management a good deal of latitude. He also commanded great respect. His departure was marked by a ceremony coinciding with the inauguration of the Laurentian Tower at SSQ's Quebec City headquarters. His successor, Yves Demers, paid tribute to him in the annual report:

Jacques de la Chevrotière has been associated with SSQ since the company's earliest beginnings and has made a profound impact on its history.

He served successively as general manager, chairman and chairman/CEO. Throughout his nearly 40 years of service, he fostered, nourished and promoted a highly unique mutualist and cooperative way of thinking that made its presence felt in all areas of the company.

Deeply committed to promoting his community, Jacques left behind him a group of dynamic companies woven into the very fabric of Quebec's socio-economic structure; their democratic credentials are plain for all to see. He entrusted their destiny to a team of managers and employees he personally recruited and who have been inspired by the service philosophy to which he subscribed.31

Upon his death in April 2011, Pierre Genest lauded his exceptional contribution to SSQ:

Jacques de la Chevrotière was a man of great resolve and ambition. He led the charge in a number of battles that enabled SSQ to become the company it is today and devoted his career to growth and innovation. He will also be remembered for his generous spirit.32


Léopold Marquis
CEO
(March 1977-November 1991)

Léopold Marquis: an illustrious career

Léopold Marquis studied industrial relations and sociology at Laval University in Quebec City. Like many social sciences graduates of his era, he was won over by the cooperative model. In 1958, he took up a position as personnel manager with SSQ, more out of idealism than ambition (the company had only 60 employees at that time).

Marquis was then appointed assistant manager, tasked with providing support to Jacques de la Chevrotière. When the latter retired in 1977, Marquis assumed control. He took on this major responsibility with some apprehension, particularly since the company's financial situation was scarcely any better than it had been in the early 1960s. "The more we grew, the more urgent the problems became", he said. Since the company had virtually no equity of its own, it had to rely on surpluses to invest in its growth. In addition to diversifying SSQ's operations, Léopold Marquis will always be associated with the company's technological modernization.

After a 33-year career, Marquis retired in late 1991, passing the torch to a man who would bring fresh impetus to the company, Pierre Genest.

Marquis died on June 19, 2013. René Hamel, CEO of SSQ Financial Group, paid him a moving tribute:

Léopold Marquis was a man of integrity, passion, conviction and unwavering human values, as well as a tireless worker. As a boss he was demanding yet also generous, fair and loyal. He was also a very great cooperator—indeed, the greatest cooperator in SSQ's history. It is what everyone has told me. And that is what all of us who knew him have to say.33


Pierre Genest
CEO
(November 1991-December 2001)
Chairman of the Board
(April 2006-present)

Pierre Genest: a champion of core values

Pierre Genest succeeded Léopold Marquis as CEO. With a degree in actuarial sciences from Laval University, he was a self-styled left-winger, somewhat of a rarity in his profession. In addition to upholding the values of mutual assistance, solidarity and social justice34 (also crucial to the cooperative and mutualist movements), he felt at ease with the unions. In that regard, he was a very good fit when he joined the company in 1986.

The same may also be said for Richard Bell, who advised the Quebec government's executive council on social security matters prior to joining SSQ in 1987. Back when he was a Laval University student, Bell was already dreaming of working in the area of group insurance on the unions' behalf.35 The young actuary (he was only in his 30s at the time) was appointed manager of actuarial insurance, while Serge Boiteau became manager of corporate actuarial. In the new organizational structure established in 1991, Richard Bell was promoted to vice-president of group insurance, while Jacques Desbiens, another actuary and a former head of La Mutualité, was named vice-president of life insurance. With René Hamel (who also had an actuarial background) installed as CEO of SSQ, General Insurance Company, all of SSQ's strategic positions were held by insurance professionals.36 Inheriting a company founded on social values, they set out to reconcile these principles with the imperatives of profitability.
 

Yves Demers: a man of the people


Yves Demers
Chairman of the Board
(November 1990-April 2006)

Jacques de la Chevrotière was succeeded as chairman of the board by Yves Demers, a notary by training and SSQ's board secretary since 1978. Originally recruited by Léopold Marquis, with whom he had worked closely on a Centraide/United Way fundraising campaign, Demers joined the management committee on November 1, 1990. He was also regarded as someone who could rally the company's driving forces. He agreed to take on the challenge, on a part-time basis at first and then full-time. "The chairman must be constantly aware of what is going on and cannot wait to find things out at the same time as the rest of the board," he explained.37 Demers had the major responsibility of circumventing obstacles that began to crop up in 1991. He and Pierre Genest, whose appointment he had recommended in 1986, worked closely to save and subsequently revitalize SSQ.38

One-half of SSQ's permanent board members were representatives of Quebec's major union federations, in addition to two unions representing provincial government employees (Syndicat des fonctionnaires provinciaux) and professional staff (Syndicat des professionnels du gouvernement du Québec). The other positions were assigned to individuals from a variety of different backgrounds, including the cooperative movement, the business community, academia, the public and parapublic sectors, etc. A number of directors also served on the boards of various SSQ subsidiaries.

To be sure, SSQ's primary concern remained the safety and security of insured members and investors. However, preserving jobs and treating employees with respect were also key considerations. This actually contributed to service quality and went on to become an integral part of the company's culture, along with upholding mutualist values.

"In its current form, SSQ embodies the success that can be achieved by building consensus between individuals from very different backgrounds who are nonetheless united by their pursuit of economic initiatives in areas of common concern."

SSQ and its members: "A people-driven economic force"

In its 1985 annual report, SSQ celebrated its 40th anniversary around the theme of "human values at the heart of a people-driven economic force". The report went on to state: "In its current form, SSQ embodies the success that can be achieved by building consensus between individuals from very different backgrounds who are nonetheless united by their pursuit of economic initiatives in areas of common concern."39 Still, the company did not limit itself to safeguarding the interests of its hundreds of thousands of members; it also played an active role in promoting the cooperative movement and community life.

Regional assemblies and seminars

Beginning in 1978, SSQ's representation system was focused on communications with the grass-roots membership. At regional assemblies, members chose delegates to attend the annual general meeting; these delegates, in turn, elected SSQ's board members in a free vote without proxies. The regional assemblies always included an educational component (e.g., the meetings in 1984 focused on health and dental care).

SSQ also organized seminars that functioned as technical courses on insurance. These seminars, which were offered to insured groups in various regions of Quebec, were in keeping with the company's educational mission. They also reflected SSQ's cooperative tradition and convictions, which had been upheld by Jacques de la Chevrotière.

Cooperative life

In 1984, SSQ adopted a mortgage investment policy geared towards social housing. For example, the company helped to finance the conversion of the Franciscan monastery in Quebec City's Saint-Jean-Baptiste district into social housing. It also teamed up with other stakeholders to offer additional low-income housing. Loans issued to cooperative and community housing entities totalled $11 million in 1985.

SSQ worked closely with other cooperatives and mutual insurance companies. With the Desjardins Group's support, the company was able to overcome difficulties stemming from the introduction of the Pharmaxo program in 1972. In the 1980s, SSQ contributed to the consolidation of a mutual benefit association when it acquired La Mutualité, the product of a prior merger of two smaller mutual benefit associations.40 Closer ties with a number of other companies were considered over the years, although they did not come to fruition. After all, although they shared certain values, cooperative-based mutual associations were also in competition with each other.

One of the most important achievements of Quebec's mutual cooperatives was the foundation of SOCODEVI, an international development cooperative. Léonce Pelletier, president of La Mutualité and vice-president of SSQ, together with Léopold Marquis, CEO of SSQ, were among the organization's six founders in 1985. In addition to financial support, SSQ provided SOCODEVI with expertise. The cooperative's first two initiatives touched on housing development in an agricultural region of Haiti and community health care in Togo.41

It also bears mentioning that Léopold Marquis was appointed president of Quebec's Société de développement des coopératives, a government corporation created in 1977 to foster the creation and development of cooperatives.

Community involvement

Given its modest surpluses and its capital needs, SSQ had a hard time competing with other organizations seeking to support various charitable causes. However, it celebrated its 40th anniversary by making donations to nine different organizations (one in each administrative region of the province), primarily to facilitate the purchase of sustainable goods. In that same year, the company also made a substantial donation to Université Laval.

At the dawn of the 1990s, SSQ found itself at a turning point. Drawing strength from its mutualist values, the company had gained distinction by offering products designed to meet its members' needs, backed by helpful service and rigorous management. It also played a pivotal economic role thanks to its status as a major employer, particularly in the Quebec City region, as well as via its investments in the provincial economy. The process of diversification and modernization carried out in the 1980s shed light on the company's potential, although its limited financial resources hindered its development and even jeopardized its survival at times. But with the support of new financial partners and a brandnew management team, SSQ subsequently set off in search of new fields to conquer.

Next chapter : Tough economic times (1991-1993)


  1. SSQ, 39th Annual Report, 1984, p. 7.
  2. SSQ, 40th Annual Report, 1985, p. 8.
  3. Ibid.
  4. SSQ, 41st Annual Report, 1986, p. 5.
  5. Rose-Line Brasset, interview with Jean-Claude Tremblay, November 15, 2012.
  6. Léandre Nadeau, "L'allocation des ressources et son impact sur la gestion des ressources humaines dans les centres hospitaliers", pp. 267-272, (page consulted on July 18, 2014).
  7. Line Ouellet and Marc Vallières, SSQ Mutual Group Insurance Company, 1944-1984. A Collective Success Story, s.l.s.n., 1986, p. 128.
  8. 8 SSQ, 39th Annual Report, 1984, p. 7.
  9. SSQ, 41st Annual Report, 1986, p. 7.
  10. SSQ, 40th Annual Report, 1985, p. 5.
  11. SSQ, 1990 Annual Report, p. 14.
  12. Rose-Line Brasset, interview with Jean-Claude Tremblay, November 15, 2012.
  13. Ibid.
  14. SSQ, 41st Annual Report, 1986, p. 15.
  15. SSQ, Rose-Line Brasset, interview with Jean-Claude Tremblay, November 15, 2012.
  16. SSQ, Rose-Line Brasset, interviews with Pierre Genest, December 10, 2012, and René Hamel, November 26, 2012.
  17. SSQ, 1991 Annual Report, p. 10.
  18. SSQ, 1987 Annual Report, p. 6.
  19. Ibid., p. 20.
  20. SSQ, 1989 Annual Report, p. 19.
  21. SSQ, 1988 Annual Report, p. 11.
  22. SSQ, 1990 Annual Report, p. 13.
  23. The official name of the legal entity was "Les Services de Santé du Québec".
  24. SSQ, 1990 Annual Report, p. 3.
  25. SSQ, Mutual Group Insurance, 1989 Annual Report, p. 16.
  26. SSQ, 1989 Annual Report, p. 12.
  27. Ibid., p. 8.
  28. Rose-Line Brasset, interview with Maurice Savoie, November 7, 2012.
  29. Rose-Line Brasset, interview with Jean-Claude Tremblay, November 15, 2012.
  30. SSQ Life, 1994 Annual Report, p. 10.
  31. SSQ, 1990 Annual Report, p. 2.
  32. Pierre Genest, "Hommage à Jacques de la Chevrotière", Reflets SSQ (internal newsletter), June 2011.
  33. Rose-Line Brasset, interview with Léopold Marquis, September 25, 2012. René Hamel, "Homage to Léopold Marquis," June 27, 2013.
  34. Rose-Line Brasset, interview with Richard Bell, December 10, 2012.
  35. Rose-Line Brasset, interview with Richard Bell, October 17, 2012.
  36. SSQ, 1991 Annual Report, pp. 22-23.
  37. Rose-Line Brasset, interview with Yves Demers, October 2, 2012.
  38. Ibid.
  39. SSQ, 40th Annual Report, 1985, p. 13.
  40. SSQ, 1987 Annual Report, p. 6.
  41. SSQ, 41st Annual Report, 1986, p. 5.