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We travel big at Caisse: more than $5.6 million was spent in six months

We travel big at Caisse: more than $5.6 million was spent in six months

The pandemic break is well and truly over at the Caisse de dépôt. The organization’s travel costs rose significantly during the first six months of the year.

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From 1any From January to June 30, the Fund spent more than $5.6 million on travel, which is 69% more than the $3.3 million spent for this purpose during the first half of 2019, before the health crisis.

This increase is much larger than the increase in the Fund’s net assets, which reached 30% between June 2019 and June 2023, its operating expenses (+38%), those of employees working outside Quebec (+33%), and that increase in assets held outside Canada. (+46%).

The institution explained that Caisse employees made more than 1,300 trips during the first six months of 2023, in response to a request for access to information from… Newspaper. On average, 3.5 people participated in each trip. Each person spent an average of $1,175 per trip.

Nearly $3.5 million went toward plane tickets, more than $1.3 million toward hotel reservations, and nearly $700,000 for “meals and other items.”

Caisse CEO Charles Emond alone made eight trips totaling about $45,000 during the first half of 2023.

“Evolving needs”

To explain the astonishing increase in travel spending, Foundation spokeswoman Kate Monvite cited “evolving business needs” and “significant increases in airfare and travel prices.”

The fund declined to specify the number of different people who traveled, the destinations visited, and the reasons for each trip. Recall that the organization has approximately 1,600 employees.

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The organization also remained tight-lipped about the amounts spent on alcohol during these trips. According to an internal policy, “reimbursement for alcohol consumption will only be made during representative meals with external partners.”

Michel Magnan, an accounting professor at Concordia University’s John Molson School of Management who specializes in governance, emphasizes that an institutional investor like Case should be holding in-person meetings around the world.

“To establish business partnerships, you have to develop connections, relationships and meetings,” he says. […] In some cultures, personal contact is very important. Not forgetting that domain knowledge, well, in Teams, is hard to come by.

Michael Magnan

Image taken from Concordia University website


But Mr. Magnan was surprised by the significant increase in Kiss’ travel expenses.

“In 2023, from a management and governance point of view, we will not be the same as we were in 2019. We are in a hybrid mode in the sense that we have maintained certain habits from the pandemic. We have realized that many things are working over Zoom or Teams whereas before, we were meeting in person.” Methodically. […] “So, we might expect a reduction in spending to some extent.”

Note that among state-owned companies, Hydro-Québec wins the award for travel expenses. In the period from July 2022 to June 2023, these amounts amounted to $55.1 million, an increase of 52% compared to the same period of the previous year. However, Hydro has more than 22,000 employees.

Travel expenses in the fund

  • 2023 (first six months): $5.63 million
  • 2022: $5.64 million
  • 2021: $551,000
  • 2020: $786,000
  • 2019: $7.0 million
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