Canada has a strong and innovative co-operative business sector, but barriers to growth still exist
April 5, 2019 – Ottawa, Ontario
Co-operatives are a valuable way for Canadians to share ownership in a business, while delivering goods and services to communities. They provide Canadian consumers with a distinct values-based and community-owned alternative. Present in every sector of the economy, they are important to growth and innovation across our country.
Today, the Government of Canada released the What We Heard: Motion-100 Consultations report. The report is the result of consultations with and submissions from co-operative sector stakeholders; business associations; federal, provincial and territorial government departments and agencies; and Indigenous co-operatives.
The report is a response to M-100: Role of Co-operatives, a private member’s motion introduced in the House of Commons on November 25, 2016. M-100 called on the Government of Canada to recognize the important role co-operatives play in the economy and to take steps to help them thrive. The motion received unanimous support in the House on April 5, 2017, and we consulted with stakeholders from April to November 2018.
The What We Heard report notes that Canada is home to an innovative and growth-oriented co-operative business sector and that the business model represents great potential for the Canadian economy. According to Statistics Canada’s 2017 Survey on Financing and Growth of Small and Medium Enterprises, co-operatives are innovative (42% of co-operatives had developed at least one type of innovation, compared to 31% of small and medium-sized businesses) and growth-oriented (78% expect to grow in the next three years).
The consultations highlighted the need for the Government of Canada to raise awareness of the co-operative business model, improve co-operatives’ eligibility for federal programs and services, and modernize co‑operative sector data in Canada.
The Government of Canada will use the report and its recommendations to inform its next steps in responding to Motion-100 and in supporting the growth and success of the co‑operative sector in Canada.
“Co-operatives are a vital part of Canada’s economic landscape and can be a powerful force for social change. They help small business, entrepreneurs, producers and communities pool resources, achieve economies of scale, and create wealth for Canadians from coast to coast to coast. We will continue to support co-operatives and explore the best way to implement stakeholders’ recommendations from the consultation.”
– The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development
“I thank the Government of Canada and Co-operatives and Mutuals Canada for their constructive collaboration and for the important consultative exercise that was undertaken with various stakeholders from government and the co‑operative sector. I consider the recommendations proposed in the consultation report to be very positive. This report will serve to better align government actions, and the proposed approaches will help promote the development of the co-operative model. I am very pleased to see that the government placed an obvious priority on the core of Motion-100, which was adopted unanimously by the House of Commons in 2017.”
– Alexandra Mendès, Member of Parliament for Brossard-Saint-Lambert
Co-operatives in Canada generally fit into one of four types:
- consumer, which provide products or services such as financial services, housing or child care to members;
- producer, which process and market goods and services produced by members such as farmers or entrepreneurs;
- worker, which provide employment for members; and
- multi-stakeholder, which serve the needs of diverse stakeholders such as employees and clients.
In 2015, non-financial co-operatives reported a total business volume of $44.1 billion. They held assets estimated at $29.9 billion and contributed 101,567 jobs to the Canadian economy.
In 2017, there were 7,819 incorporated co-operative businesses across Canada.