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Levis, Quebec-based Desjardins Group posted surplus earnings of $798 million before member dividends in the first quarter of 2021, up $513 million from a year earlier, the financial cooperative reported Thursday.

Desjardins attributed the growth in surplus earnings primarily to a decline in the provision for credit losses as well as good performance from the caisse network and a decrease in auto insurance losses in its property and casualty (P&C) segment.

The cooperative noted in a release that Q1 2020 was affected by the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, with the provision for credit losses being “affected by the deterioration in the economic outlook, and provisions were recognized in travel insurance.”

Heading into 2021, the pandemic has less of an effect. “Desjardins began the first quarter of 2021 with solid financial results despite the background of economic uncertainty stemming from the pandemic,” said Desjardins president and CEO Guy Cormier in the release.

Provision for member dividends was $90 million in Q1 2021, up $13 million from the same period in 2020.

In its wealth management and life and health insurance division, Desjardins posted $125 million in net surplus earnings, compared with a net deficit of $41 million a year earlier. The cooperative attributed this year’s growth to provisions recognized in travel insurance and credit balance insurance, and to the markets’ positive impact on guaranteed investment funds in Q1 2021 — versus their negative impact a year ago.

The cooperative noted that assets under administration were $465 billion while assets under management were $77 billion as of March 31, compared with nearly $396 billion and $63 billion a year earlier, respectively.

In the P&C segment, net surplus earnings were $248 million in Q1 2021, up $175 million from the same period in 2020. And, in personal and business banking, surplus earnings before member dividends were $414 million in Q1 2021, up $224 million from the same period in 2020.

Desjardins reported total assets of $377 billion at March 31, up $14.9 billion or 4.1% from Dec. 31, 2020.