Group caisses

Brief history

In the early 1940s, labourers, union groups, professionals, office workers and cultural communities began to associate among themselves to set up credit unions, also known as caisses d'économie or group caisses. Their goal was to provide themselves the means to promote financial autonomy among members by pooling their financial assets.

In 1979, this credit union network and its 200,000 members located throughout Quebec joined Desjardins Group. Today, the caisses from the network continue to grow and are proud to bring their wealth of diversity to enrich Desjardins Group as a whole. Learn about the historical milestones of this unique caisse network deeply rooted in different workplaces.

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The caisses d'économie stem from the credit unions founded following an intervention by Alphonse Desjardins in Massachusetts and New York in 1908. This model of caisse in the workplace, which is widespread in the U.S., but unique in Quebec, was introduced when U.S. companies started to come to Quebec in the early 1940s.

Quebec City municipal employees.

The first credit unions and caisses d'économie were created in the early 1940s.

The caisses d'économie (credit unions) were now born and would grow through the payroll deduction system, among other things. Hospital employees from Montreal's West Side, Bell Canada employees and an initial group of citizens of immigrant origin, the Ukrainians, founded their own credit unions. In 1944, the Quebec Credit Union League was created and included several credit unions in English-speaking environments.

Montreal firefighters, Canadian National (CN) and Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) employees and the Montreal police founded group caisses in the mid-1940s.

In 1945, after a long strike, Montreal firefighters had managed to obtain some good pay increases. Their legal counsel at the time, Mr. Sylvestre, then said to union President, Albert Rémillard, "It is collectively that you are rich. Join together and pool your savings!" The Caisse d'économie des pompiers was founded that same year. Other groups of workers who shared the same ideas followed suit and founded caisses that constituted the first French-speaking network of credit unions.

Bell employees in the 1940s behind the foundation of the Caisse d'économie des employés en Télécommunication.

Montreal firefighters in action in 1956.

Angus shops employees in 1944 behind the foundation of the Caisse du Secteur industriel de Montréal.

In September 1962, 14 caisses joined together to create the Fédération des caisses d'économie du Québec.

Robert Soupras, a Canadair union representative, Albert Rémillard, President of the firefighters union, Louis Laberge, President of the Fédération des travailleurs et travailleuses du Québec (FTQ), and André Laurin, training officer at the Confédération des syndicats nationaux (CSN), criss-crossed Quebec to establish the new Fédération.

At the end of the year, 32 caisses were affiliated with the new Fédération. In 1967, 5 years later, 225 caisses d'économie were founded in the major industries in all of Quebec's sectors of economic activity.

Aviation industry worker.

Lévis shipyard workers.

On September 19, the Fédération des caisses d'économie du Québec joined Desjardins group.

The Fédération des caisses d'économie du Québec and its 116 affiliated caisses signed a Memorandum of Affiliation with Desjardins Group. On the following December 19, the Quebec government provided a legal standing for the new organization, renamed the Confédération des caisses populaires et d'économie Desjardins du Québec.

On January 21, 1981, the Quebec Credit Union League's 70 caisses also joined the Confédération.

Robert Soupras, Director General of the Fédération des caisses d'économie, and Alfred Rouleau, President of Desjardins Group, signing the affiliation protocol.

On November 23, the 3 major unions in Quebec and the Fédération des caisses d'économie Desjardins du Québec (FCEDQ) formalized an alliance.

This alliance flowed naturally from the source as most of the Desjardins credit unions were originally created by the unions. "In order to defend the interests of workers in Quebec and considering the urgency of strengthening solidarity in the face of unemployment, growing inequalities and the crisis in public finances, these 4 organizations are committed to working together to provide solutions to current problems and create new ways to support and assist employees in Quebec in their quest for a more stable income, a greater appreciation of their work and a more secure financial future," said Lorraine Pagé (CEQ), Gérald Larose (CSN), Clément Godbout (FTQ) and Michel Parent (FCEDQ).

At a press conference, Jean Lajoie, a journalist at TQS, collects feedback from union representatives.

In the late 1990s, Desjardins Group engaged in major structural reforms that led to the merger of the 11 regional federations into one large entity.

To foster the harmonious combination of both networks (caisse populaire and caisse d'économie) while recognizing and guaranteeing the development of the caisses d'économie within Desjardins Group, a by-law was adopted by the FCEDQ and the Confédération. Since then, the caisses d'économie have been represented within Desjardins Group by the Group Caisse council made up of 10 officers and 5 general managers elected by the Group Caisses General Meeting. The development of the group caisse network is coordinated by the Group Caisses Division.