Today, on September 23rd, Bâtirente proudly celebrates its 35th anniversary! Founded in 1987, Bâtirente is a unique Québec institution, whose creation was made possible thanks to the conviction of its pioneering and forward-looking builders.
The story behind what would become the retirement system of CSN’s unionized members began as Québec was in the throes of an employment crisis. In 1984, on the eve of its 52nd convention, the CSN conducted a study revealing that 42% of collective agreements contained no clauses dedicated to retirement. At this point, a discussion was launched on this important issue—and this is how Bâtirente’s story begins.
The Bâtirente Group RRSP took shape on September 23, 1987, with the signing of the first group annuity contract with SSQ Vie. The first board of directors was elected in 1988, and Bâtirente became a non-profit organization and a services mutual in 1995. All the while, the first builders were developing a novel vision for retirement plans.
“Thirty-five years ago, pioneering and forward-looking activists were working on meeting the critical need of CSN union members to have retirement plans,” proudly declared Yvan Duceppe, Board Chair of Bâtirente.
In 2020, Bâtirente announced the creation of an honour roll in recognition of the organization’s Builders and highlighting the accomplishments of those who have helped Bâtirente successfully fulfil its mission today. Léopold Beaulieu, former CEO of Fondaction, who served on the board non-stop for 33 years, was inducted there as the very first Builder. In 2021, Bâtirente added Jacques Allard (inducted posthumously), board member from 1987 to 2001, and Claude Rioux, who served from 1987 to 2004.
As Yvan Duceppe went on to say: “It was with much emotion that I unveiled the induction of Daniel Simard—a passionate activist and Bâtirente’s first CEO—into the Builders’ Honour Roll during the annual general meeting in June 2022!” Mr. Simard retired after 44 years in the CSN movement, and he recounted his journey in the 2021 annual report.
Now recognized as a responsible investment leader in Québec, Bâtirente was already interested in this issue by the end of the 1990s, since a retirement system stemming from a social movement (like that of the CSN) would need to manage the capital entrusted to it by its members in line with the latter’s values of equity, justice and economic democracy.
“Bâtirente’s history has been marked by major milestones and initiatives in responsible investment,” noted Éric Filion, CEO. In fact, in 2005, Bâtirente was one of the first pension plans in Québec to integrate environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria into its investment policy. In 2006, Bâtirente was among the initial 26 signatories of the Principles for Responsible Investment alongside the major global funds. In 2014, Bâtirente was one of the first signatories of the Montréal Carbon Pledge. In 2016, in partnership with the Regroupement pour la responsabilité sociale des entreprises, Bâtirente founded Æquo, Shareholder Engagement Services, with the goal of making these services available to Québec’s institutional investment community.
As Éric Filion added: “We were proud in 2020 to unveil an important climate commitment with four ambitious 5-year goals! In 2021, the results of this engagement have been positive and encouraging, and we’re able to announce that the goals are well on their way to being achieved by 2025.”
Rooted in a solid foundation and resolutely forward-looking, Bâtirente today guides its 25,000 members toward a successful retirement, as imagined by its builders 35 years ago.