HIS­TORY THROUGH OUR EYES

Jan. 12, 1978: Sun Life moves head of­fice

Montreal Gazette - - CITY -

Jan. 12, 1978 found Que­be­cers still reel­ing from Sun Life As­sur­ance Co.’s an­nounce­ment Jan. 6 that it would be mov­ing its head of­fice from Mon­treal to Toronto. The Parti Québé­cois gov­ern­ment had adopted Bill 101, the French Lan­guage Char­ter, the pre­vi­ous Au­gust, and the com­pany said the new law would make it hard to op­er­ate, in­clud­ing by pos­ing ob­sta­cles to the re­cruit­ment and re­ten­tion of per­son­nel. That day, we pub­lished a pho­to­graph, by the Mon­treal Gazette’s Tedd Church, of 81-year-old Wil­frid Joli­coeur hold­ing four Sun Life poli­cies he said he would can­cel in protest. “Per­fectly bilin­gual, Joli­coeur ... says he is op­posed to the Que­bec lan­guage law, Bill 101, ‘but the gov­ern­ment hasn’t yet de­cided what it’s go­ing to do about head of­fices. Sun Life should have phoned up Lévesque and asked him what he was go­ing to do’,” we re­ported. At the time, Sun Life had only two fran­co­phone di­rec­tors out of 21, and only about 200 fran­co­phone head of­fice em­ploy­ees out of 1,800, our story said. The move was ex­pected to cost $10 mil­lion, ac­cord­ing to real es­tate com­pany ex­ec­u­tive we quoted in an ar­ti­cle in that day’s Busi­ness sec­tion. That amount in­cluded re­lo­ca­tion costs for trans­fer­ring up­per management and some mid­dle management staff, in­clud­ing com­pen­sa­tion for the higher real-es­tate prices in Toronto, where the av­er­age cost of a home was $67,000 as op­posed to $40,000 in Mon­treal, we wrote. Sev­eral other head of­fices were to fol­low.

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