Programs / Services

Key actions and accomplishments

In March 2013, Industry Canada acquired the policy responsibility for co-operatives and since then has been collaborating with our federal partners to support the continued growth and innovation of the co-operative sector in Canada. Over the last two years, significant progress has been achieved on a broad range of initiatives, establishing a strong foundation for continued activities to support co-operatives.

Focus areas for action include:


Programs and services

  • In 2014, Industry Canada, its portfolio partners, and the regional developments agencies worked together to assess programs and services that are eligible to co-operatives. These supports are now listed on the Canada Business Network landing page for co-operatives.
  • Between April 1, 2006, and December 17, 2014, the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency provided over $18 million in funding to 133 co-operative projects in the Atlantic Provinces.
  • The Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) currently has $30 million in committed financing to 38 commercial co-ops and provides affordable consulting services to address managerial, governance, operational efficiency and other challenges faced by co-ops. BDC is also part of Alliance Coopération, a partnership worth up to $30 million that pools financing and shares risk to increase and simplify access to financing for co-ops in Quebec. BDC also partners with credit unions to extend more capital at lower combined interest rates to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) while sharing and reducing risk.
  • Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions (CED), through its Quebec Economic Development Program, continues to support projects from co-operatives that meet the eligibility criteria and the targeted results. Between April 2006 and September 2014, CED provided more than $11 million to 50 co-operatives projects.
  • The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) currently provides mortgages to over 1,200 co-operatives and non-profit housing projects with non-renewable, long-term mortgages at rates significantly lower than market rates at the time of loan initiation.
    • Since first offering a discounted prepayment penalty in January of 2013, CMHC has accepted the early payout of 12 co-operative housing loans with a value of close to $12 million facilitating the ability of these co-operatives to access new capital to undertake repairs and renovations.
    • CMHC offers financing flexibilities to support the development of new affordable multi-unit housing (including co-ops). Eligible co-ops can obtain mortgage financing of up to 95% of the lending value of the property and reduced premiums. The higher the level of affordability, the greater the flexibilities offered.
  • The Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency (CanNor) is committed to funding initiatives that address the most pressing socio-economic development needs of the territories through its contribution programs, such as the Strategic Investments in Northern Economic Development program, Northern Aboriginal Economic Opportunities Program, as well as Northern Adult Basic Education Program. Social enterprises, including co-operatives and not-for-profit corporations, are eligible to apply under CanNor's existing programs' terms and conditions.
  • Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) is supporting co-operatives through the following projects:
    • The Social Development and Partnerships Program funded a pilot project with the British Columbia Co-operative Association to work in partnership with regional co-operative associations across Canada to develop and test innovative co-operative models to address the complex social challenges presented by an aging Canadian population. Partners include the Alberta Co-operative and Community Association, Saskatchewan Co-operative Council, Co-operative Enterprise Council of New Brunswick, the Prince Edward Island Co-operative Association, VanCity Credit Union and the Vancouver Foundation. The project runs from , to .
    • Under ESDC's New Horizons for Seniors Program, a pilot project was funded to the Coopérative radiophonique de Toronto. The Coopérative radiophonique de Toronto will, in partnership with the Fédération des aînés et aînées francophones du Canada, conduct a pan-Canadian elder abuse prevention and awareness project to reach Francophone populations living mainly in minority communities across Canada. The project runs from , to .
    • Since 2012, ESDC engaged in a collaborative project with IC's Canada Business Network program to help improve the accessibility of government funded small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) programs and services for social entrepreneurs. Most recently, a Social Enterprise landing page was launched on the Canada Business Network national website that provides easy access to tailored information on an array of topics including financing options, business plan development and regulation and taxation for social entrepreneurs, including those interested in co-operatives.
  • Since its formation in 2009, the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) supported co-operative projects involved in official language minority communities, renewable energy, sustainable construction and agriculture.
  • Since the tabling of the Government Response in , Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario (FedNor) approved seven projects with authorized assistance of $678,341 to support economic development objectives of co-operatives in Northern Ontario through the Northern Ontario Development Program.
  • Co-operatives are eligible for funding from Community Futures Organizations (CFOs) in rural and remote communities across Canada. The regional development agencies provide operational support to CFOs under the government's Community Futures Program. In the North, CanNor has been providing loan capitalization to northern Community Futures Development Corporations through the Strategic Investments in Northern Economic Development program, as operational funding comes from territorial governments.
  • From , to , 126 SME for-profit co-operatives used IC's Canada Small Business Financing Program (CSBFP) to access loans worth an estimated value of $12.7 million. The CSBFP is delivered in partnership with private sector lenders across Canada, including credit unions and caisses populaires. The CSBFP has also been promoted directly to provincial co-operative associations and conseils across Canada.
  • As of October 2014, Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD) provided almost $9 million to 17 co-operative projects for business development and innovation in the last five years. In , WD, under the Western Diversification Program, provided $1.4 million to the Canadian Lamb Producers Co-operative to enable them to develop, install, and implement an instrument grading system for lamb.
  • Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) supports co-operatives with the following programs and services:
    • The Canadian Agricultural Loans Act program is designed to increase the availability of loans to farmers and agricultural co-operatives. Agricultural co-operatives conducting a farming activity are eligible for guaranteed loans up to $500,000, with $500,000 available for the purchase of real property (land and buildings) or $350,000 available for all other eligible purposes. Agricultural co-operatives, with 50 percent plus one farmer members, engaged in the processing, marketing or distribution of their members' products of farming are eligible for financing of up to $3 million, with the approval of the Minister.
    • AgPal is a web-based assistance tool developed by AAFC to help farmers and others in the agriculture and agri-business sector find the federal, provincial, and territorial programs and services that specifically apply to them. Designed as AAFC's 'one-stop' shop #8211; it allows for easy filtering by Region, Type of Assistance, and User. A search in AgPal identifies 94 programs and services available to co-operatives.
    • Farm Credit Canada (FCC), a federal crown corporation, also provides financing options to agriculture related co-operatives and their members. Over the last decade, FCC provided over $1 billion in loans to members of over 30 partner co-operatives located across Canada to facilitate member purchases of primarily livestock and crop inputs.

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Awareness and engagement

  • In April 2013, Industry Canada (IC) implemented a Four-Point Action Plan on Co-operatives to:
    • Assess IC, portfolio and regional development agency programs and services for co-operative eligibility (completed in summer 2014).
    • Complete a national engagement and outreach strategy with over 114 co-ops across Canada to understand the sector and establish relationships, including the ongoing collection of regional intelligence and IC attendance at sector key events ( – ongoing).
    • Establish the Federal Network on Co-operatives, which facilitates the meeting of 13 departments and agencies responsible for the federal co-ops file to collaborate and share information on co-ops, including raising the awareness of the co-op sector (Ongoing).
    • Establish Federal/Provincial/Territorial Working Group of Officials Responsible for Co-operatives to collaborate and share information on co-op policy, program, regulatory/legislative and data (Ongoing).
  • In 2014, IC published the Canada Business Network blogs, Why Start a Co-operative?, and, Business succession and co-operatives, to promote the co-operative business model.
  • In , Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions granted the 2014 International Summit of Co-operatives, which promoted the awareness and understanding of the co-operative business model in Canada and internationally, a $1 million non-repayable contribution through its Quebec Economic Development Program.
  • Across the North, Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency (CanNor) officers maintain strong relationships with clients and stakeholders and work diligently to ensure that the client bases as well as potential funding recipients are well aware of all the relevant economic development programs and services available to them. Additionally, these relationships provide avenues for CanNor officers to remain well informed about areas of opportunity such as potential co-operatives.
  • In 2013, Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) engaged with the co-operative sector and IC at the following events to explore how the co-operative sector could partner with government to address complex social issues at the community level:
    • ESDC engaged two Ottawa-based co-operatives, Y's Owl Co-operative and Family Matters, as well as the national umbrella group, Co-operatives and Mutuals Canada.
    • A knowledge event on co-operatives was organized by ESDC in , which included the participation of panelists from IC and Co-operatives and Mutuals Canada.
  • The Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) delivers the Canada Business Ontario (a member of the Canada Business Network), which supports businesses in Ontario, including co-ops, by providing information on start-up, financing, growth, regulatory compliance, business planning, management, finance, and business growth. Dedicated material is available, such as the "Starting a Co-operative" guide.
  • The Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario (FedNor) performed the following engagement initiatives with co-operative sector stakeholders:
    • In , FedNor reached out to 177 co-operatives and organizations outlining how FedNor, as the Government of Canada's economic development organization for Northern Ontario, offers support to co-operatives for projects that lead to job creation and economic growth in the region.
    • In , FedNor staff participated in outreach events targeting co-operatives, including attendance at roundtable events organized by the Ontario Co-operative Association and also participation at the Conseil de la coopération de l'Ontario celebration of their 50th anniversary.
    • In 2014, the True North Community Co-operative (Thunder Bay) and Cloverbelt Local Food Co-op (Dryden) participated in the FedNor-funded Northern Ontario Pavilion at the 2014 Royal Winter Fair held in November to showcase their products while helping to develop new markets, boost sales and make valuable industry contacts.
  • In , Industry Canada, Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions and the Business Development Bank of Canada hosted a joint kiosk at Place Canada exhibit during the 2014 International Summit of Co-operatives exhibition to showcase programs and services for co-operatives.

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Research and statistics

  • In 2014, under the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency's Business Development Program, funding was provided to La Coopérative de développement régional-Acadie, which represents 40 francophone co-operative organizations in New Brunswick. This project supported the Government's Roadmap for Canada's Official Languages 2013-2018. It consisted of developing a tool box for the promotion of the co-operative concept to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and workers. It was focused on situations where business succession was imminent but no clear plan was in place. Co-operatives were presented as a possible option. Presentations were made throughout the three Maritime Provinces.
  • In 2014, Industry Canada included co-operatives in the 2014 Survey on Financing and Growth of Small and Medium Enterprises to build a more significant evidence base on the issue of capitalization by collecting data on debt, lease, trade credit, and government financing in 2014, as well as co-operatives' exports, innovation, intellectual property and procurement activities.
  • IC administers the National Statistic Services for the ongoing collection and dissemination of economic data on co-operatives with the Survey of Canadian Co-operatives.
  • In , IC funded Public Policy Forum's research report, At the Vanguard of Canadian Innovation: A Compilation of Co-op Case Studies.
  • IC funded the Co-operative Development in Official Languages Minority Communities (OLMCs) report to examine the challenges and opportunities associated with co-operative development in OLMCs and provided input to better guide the actions of federal partners of the Roadmap for Canada's Official Languages 2013-2018 Economic Development Initiative (EDI) that was published in by Co-operatives and Mutuals Canada.
  • As of April 2014, IC supported and maintained access to the Community Information Database (CID) for co-operative, private-sector and public organizations that require reliable socio-economic data on Canadian communities.
  • In 2013-2014, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council supported over two dozen projects in which co-operatives (not-for-profit and for-profit) were partners, sponsors or collaborators.

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Additional resources

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