The Co-operative Innovation Project: Co-operative Development in Western Canada

The Co-operative Innovation Project

Year: 2016

The Canadian co-operative community can be found across Canada, from sector apex associations and national lobby groups to small co-operatives working to spread co-operative ideas.

At the federal level, the newly created Co-operatives and Mutuals Canada (CMC) is a third-tier cooperative that combines French and English-speaking federations, associations, large co-operative businesses, and research groups across Canada. It has a diverse range of activity and interests, which include government relations (primarily at the federal level), education, member engagement, communications, research, and co-operative development. CMC is a member of the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA) and works to connect Canada’s co-operative community with its international counterparts.This international connection by a third-tier co-op brings much of the Canadian co-op community at the local level into direct connection to the international association.

CMC works in close concert with provincial co-operative apex associations from Newfoundland to British Columbia. These provincial organizations are, in turn, often directly responsible for cooperative development in their province, particularly in advocating for co-operative interests at the policy level, in direct co-op development help to new and struggling co-ops, and in promoting cooperatives in general. In addition, several large co-operatives (such as The Co-operators and Arctic Co-operatives Limited) operate internal co-operative development arms with different functions, focuses, and programs.

Download the Co-operative Development in Western Canada report

The Co-operative Innovation Project (CIP) was given the task of looking at co-operative development in rural and Aboriginal communities in western Canada. The main question was:

What co-operative development activities and supports are in place from Manitoba to British Columbia, particularly through associations or ministries with co-operative development roles? The secondary question was: Are those methods consistent with the CIP model of co-operative development, designed for rural and Aboriginal communities? Are there gaps or opportunities that should be considered?

It can be difficult to separate co-operative development activities aimed at helping a group form a more robust co-operative enterprise from activities that aim to grow and strengthen the larger cooperative environment. As a result, the following chapter provides a broad overview and high-level comparison of a number of activities beyond the step-by-step process of co-operative development with one group.

Executive Summary
1. Co-operative Development
2. Co-operative Development with Aboriginal Communities
3. Co-operative Development in Western Canada
4. Co-operative Development Building Strong Co-operatives
5. Model of a Robust Co-operative Development Environment

Table of Contents

Introduction and Aims

Manitoba Co-operative Association
Government of Manitoba: Co-operative Development Services
Economic Development Council for Manitoba Bilingual Municipalities
Saskatchewan Co-operative Association
Conseil Économique et Coopératif de la Saskatchewan
Alberta Community and Co-operative Association
Conseil de développement économique de l’Alberta
British Columbia
British Columbia Co-operative Association
Upper Columbia Cooperative Council
Summary Findings