Bringing our Purpose to life

We help our Clients achieve lifetime financial security and live healthier lives. Our sustainability approach aligns to our business priorities and brings our Purpose to life.

Bringing our Purpose to life

We help our Clients achieve lifetime financial security and live healthier lives. Our sustainability approach aligns to our business priorities and brings our Purpose to life.

Our sustainability plan

Sustainability is a priority for Sun Life in Canada and around the world. It’s essential to our business success. We want to contribute to a world that’s healthier, more financially resilient, environmentally secure, and economically prosperous.

Our sustainability plan focuses on our best opportunities to have a positive impact on society while creating competitive advantage for our business. This includes:

  1. increasing financial security,
  2. fostering healthier lives, and
  3. advancing sustainable investing.

These efforts build from our foundation as a trusted and responsible business.

Advancing our sustainability plan

We provide our Clients and employees with innovative products and services to help increase their lifetime financial security.

We’re committed to improving financial resiliency in society by advocating for and expanding access to products and services to close insurance coverage gaps and build long-term wealth.

2019 highlights:

  • Delivered 18.6 million digital nudges through Sun Life’s online assistant Ella, which drove an additional $360 million towards Clients’ workplace savings.
  • 95,000 positive decisions taken by Clients towards financial security as a result of a nudge from Ella.
  • Delivered educational activities in Canada throughout Financial Literacy Month. Our Group Retirement Services businesses published various resources including newsletters for Clients with tips on planning and saving for retirement.
  • Advocated for the federal government to expand retirement income security options to help Canadians obtain a more secure, predictable retirement income as they age. The government included these measures in Budget 2019.
  • Hosted financial wellness webinars and delivered wellness content through a digital platform to help Clients in Canada manage financial, physical and mental health.
  • Enhanced our sales and planning tools for Sun Life advisors worldwide. These enhancements help advisors better identify and meet Clients’ insurance and savings needs.

Learn more about our financial security activities

We’re focused on improving health and wellness in society. We offer our Clients and employees products and tools to help them live healthier lives. And we invest in community health and improving access to health and disability insurance.

2019 highlights:

  • Completed a pilot project for an online cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) program. Pilot results were very positive and we are now rolling out an online CBT program to our Clients in Canada. This will lead to faster and easier access to mental health care. We also added CBT as an eligible mental health benefit for Canadian employees.
  • Expanded the Lumino Health network to help more Clients and other Canadians get access to the health-care resources they need, when and how they need them. The network also helps Clients reduce their health-care costs by pointing them to lower cost services and providers.
  • Teamed up with EQ Care in Canada to launch virtual independent medical examination services. This solution helps Clients on disability leave take an examination without leaving the comfort of their own home.
  • Continued to advocate for measures that will enhance the affordability and accessibility of health care across Canada. For example, as the federal government considers a national pharmacare initiative, we’re advocating for changes that close gaps in coverage.
  • Committed $4.4 million to diabetes awareness, prevention, care and research.
  • Engaged approximately 2,000 kids in fitness and nutrition activities through Sun Life Dunk for Diabetes. Upon completion of the six-week program, physical fitness testing among participants demonstrated an average performance improvement of 13.7%. In addition, post-program evaluations showed a 12% increase in knowledge of diabetes prevention facts.

Learn more about how we’re fostering healthier lives

We manage capital with sustainability embedded in our investment processes. We offer our Clients and employees sustainable investing opportunities. And we invest our assets to encourage a low-carbon and more inclusive economy.

2019 highlights:

  • Became the first life insurance company globally to issue a sustainability bond. Examples of eligible sustainable investments include renewable energy, energy efficiency, green buildings, clean transportation, sustainable water management and access to essential services.
  • Increased sustainability and green bond holdings across North America to $651 million.
  • Invested $322 million in renewable energy projects, bringing our total portfolio value to $5.2 billion. These investments help the growing low-carbon economy.
  • More than $7 billion invested in access to essential services (at December 31, 2019), including 14 new investments in 2019. These include investments in hospitals as well as shelters for individuals experiencing homelessness.
  • Applied environmental, social and governance (ESG) screening to 100% of Sun Life’s General Account assets during both initial and ongoing reviews.
  • Analyzed ESG considerations of all Sun Life Global Investments (SLGI) sub-advised investment strategies using proprietary analysis and third-party data.

Learn more about our sustainable investing activities

We commit to being a responsibly managed business that’s Client-focused, competitive, forward-thinking, financially and environmentally resilient, and sustainable for the long term.

Our key priorities include Client focus, talent management, diversity and inclusion, climate change and the environment, risk management, data security and privacy, and governance and ethics.

2019 highlights:

  • Achieved our target of reducing global GHG emissions intensity 20% by 2020 and remain on track to meet our longer-term 2030 target of a 30% intensity reduction.
  • All of our major corporate sites in Canada are Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®)1 or BOMA BEST2 certified. Many properties in our investment portfolio worldwide are certified as well.
  • Reviewed our risk exposures to climate change using Dynamic Capital Adequacy Testing. This review considered risks to our life and health insurance businesses, as well as our proprietary investments. Overall, the Company remained on solid financial footing with strong capital positions.
  • Experienced a 4% decrease in complaints investigated by our internal Ombudsman’s Office in Canada compared to 2018.
  • Analyzed total average pay by gender, for roles within the same levels in Canada. We found no difference in pay at the Vice-President and Senior Vice-President levels and less than 2% difference among management and professional roles.
  • Continued to make progress on our commitments to increase the representation of women and visible minorities in senior management.
  • Developed new Client Data Privacy Principles to serve as internal guardrails for how we use Client data to deliver on our Purpose.
  • Continued to meet our target of at least 30% women on the Board of Directors. As of December 31, 2019, women comprised 36% of our Board members.

Learn more about our responsible business practices


1 LEED®—an acronym for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.™ It’s a registered trademark of the U.S. Green Building Council®. The Canada Green Building Council is the sole license holder for the LEED® trademark in Canada.

2 BOMA BEST Sustainable Buildings certification (BEST Sustainable Buildings in the United States) recognizes excellence in energy and environmental management and performance in commercial real estate. The Building Owners and Managers Association of Canada (BOMA Canada) manages the program and delivers it in conjunction with eleven local BOMA Associations throughout Canada.