Study Shows Co-operatives Contribute Almost $6 Billion to Ontario Economy

November 4, 2015

Ontario Co-opA new study shows that Ontario’s co-operative sector contributes $5.97 billion yearly to the province’s GDP. The research, released by CCEDNet member the Ontario Co-operative Association (On Co-op), the capacity-building organization and trade association for the province’s 1,300 co-operative business enterprises, found that the highest number of co-operatives are in housing and child care services — and that insurance, finance, agriculture and whole sale industries are the economic drivers for the co-operative sector in Ontario.

Mark Ventry, On Co-op’s Executive Director says, “Co-operatives are increasingly recognized for their contributions to the community and now we can demonstrate their contributions to the economic wealth of the Province.” He adds, “The Ontario co-operative sector injects $3.3 billion into household income and is responsible for providing more than 57,000 jobs (full-time equivalents).” Ventry says that Ontario co-ops pay more than $1.3 billion in taxes annually.

Fiona Duguid, president of the Canadian Association for the Studies in Co-operation and a researcher in the study, analyzed data from the 2010 annual co-operative survey conducted by Industry Canada. “The province of Ontario counts for nearly 40% of both population and GDP of Canada, yet its co-operative sector accounted for only 10% of the national co-op activity,” she says. “If Ontario’s co-operative sector had grown at the national average, the sector would have been four times as large as it was in 2010.”

Ontario’s co-operative sector is a combination of financial co-ops such as credit unions, caisse populaires and insurance companies, and non-financial co-operatives which operate in about 20 key sectors of the Ontario economy including telecommunications, housing, agriculture, arts and culture, social services, child care, retail sales and transportation.

Duguid notes that her research team has examined the size and economic impact of co-operatives nationally, in Manitoba and in other provinces using the same methodology. Additionally, On Co-op conducted a socio-economic impact study of the 59 co-ops and sector-affiliated organizations in Guelph earlier this year, and plans to work with partners in other areas to replicate its study in other regions across the province.

The Ontario co-operative research study was funded in part by the Government of Ontario in collaboration with the Canadian CED Network.  Copies of the study and a series of infographics are available from the On Co-op website

Read more about the Ontario Co-op Economic Impact Research


The Ontario Co-operative Association believes that co-operatives build a better world. We are the trade association and capacity-building organization that develops, engages, educates and advocates for Ontario’s 1,300 co-operative business enterprises. On Co-op is an information and resources network with a mission to lead, cultivate and connect co-operatives. 


Co-operatives are community-focused business enterprises that balance people, planet and profit. Co-ops are democratic and value-based, formed to seize local opportunities and meet the needs of their member-owners. As a trusted place to do business, co-operatives are chosen by more than 1 in 7 people worldwide. Twice as many co-ops remain in operation after ten years as other types of business enterprise. Ontario is home to 1,300 co-operatives and credit unions, which operate 1,900 branches in 400 communities.