Of course there is a housing crisis in Quebec, and the Fonds de solidarité FTQ intends to help alleviate it, assures its president. But there is also a retirement crisis which promises to be just as serious and which will have to be tackled.
Nearly 40% of retirees receive the Guaranteed Income Supplement, intended for low-income people in Quebec. This is one of the highest proportions in Canada and a sign that a serious change is necessary, particularly in terms of retirement savings, at a time when the cost of living continues to rise. increase and it is even more difficult to save.
“There is a retirement crisis hanging over us. We are creating in Quebec some of the poorest retirees in Canada, declared in a telephone interview with Duty Friday the President and CEO of the Fund, Janie Béïque. We talk a lot about the housing crisis, but the retirement crisis […], it is also something that awaits us. »
Its first victims are “all those who have difficulty making ends meet,” she says, but also workers who do not have access to private pension plans. “Even then, it’s not a guarantee. Not all pension plans are well structured and generous. »
To help change things, the Fund has set itself the objective of attracting, in five years, 100,000 new shareholder-savers whose annual salary is lower than the average in Quebec, of just under 56,000. $, or who have no other retirement savings solution. After a year, he has already convinced just over 23,000 people.
It is often enough for workers to participate in one of the awareness and training activities of the network of local managers of the Fund for a quarter of them to be convinced to make a first contribution, argues Janie Béïque. Automatically deducted from the salary, contributions are sometimes “$15 or $20 per pay”. This first step is important because it often marks a first step on the path to retirement savings that will be followed by others, at the Fund or elsewhere.
In its last budget, the Quebec government renewed the additional 15% tax credit relating to contributions to workers’ funds (in addition to another 15% at the federal level) while reserving it for taxpayers whose taxable income is less than $112,000. The Fund now expects to be allowed to reinstate the possibility of lump sum contributions.
Do more for housing
The leading private investor in social housing, the Fund was entrusted last year by the Quebec government with the mission of making 1,000 new affordable and social housing units available in three years. It was already noted in April that the objective should be largely exceeded, with 1,048 new housing units and 377 existing housing units maintained.
We should not be too surprised, in these conditions, if the Fund was given a new, more ambitious mandate by the government, says Janie Béïque. “The housing crisis is a national crisis. It’s going to take a lot of ingredients to fix it. [Mais] if we all come together around the table, we can make it happen. »
Dollars that do good
With 765,721 shareholder-savers and net assets of 18.4 billion invested in more than 3,700 companies, the Fonds de solidarité FTQ is holding its annual general meeting on Saturday at the Palais des congrès de Montréal. We will take the opportunity to celebrate the 40the anniversary of its creation before looking towards what the future holds.
“It was such a crazy dream. When we remember that we called this “the Laberge patent,” it shows how little chance it had of succeeding,” says Janie Béïque of the president of the FTQ at the time and father of the project, Louis Laberge. “As an organization, we don’t just aim for financial returns. We aim to have an impact on society, so that our dollars do good. »
In addition to promoting a decent retirement and a sustainable real estate market, the Fund has set itself, as objectives of “societal returns”, the attraction and retention of new talents, sustainable growth of SMEs and technological transitions. and environmental fairness.
In particular, we promised to have 12 billion in assets linked to sustainable development by 2027. “It’s very ambitious,” admits Janie Béïque, who has just announced the creation of a new subsidiary of the Bioenergy Fund. . We follow the game plan to get there, but there are several things that can happen along the way. »