Our 9th meeting of the All-Party Caucus on Co-operatives

Jun 3, 2015

Dear Friends,

The All-Party Caucus on Co-operatives held its 9th meeting on Wednesday, May 27, 2015, in which Industry Canada provided a summary of their activities since 2013.

My colleague Joe Preston, M.P. for Elgin–Middlesex–London, chaired the meeting and welcomed the following guest from Industry Canada: Mr. Mitch Davies, Assistant Deputy Minister, Strategic Policy Sector. Parliamentarians from all three recognized parties attended. Several members of the co-op community were also in attendance.

On April 3rd, 2013, the Government of Canada completed the transfer of responsibility for co-operatives to Industry Canada from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, which was a key recommendation in the report of the Special Committee on Co-operatives published in the fall of 2012.  Other recommendations included verifying that Canada’s federal programs and services are friendly to the co-operative model and increasing access to capital investment.  Industry Canada has confirmed that federal legislation is not in need of urgent change as current laws create a beneficial environment for co-operatives, and that many co-operatives are able to obtain capital investment through federal or private funding.

Mr. Davies mentioned that the department met with over 100 co-operatives since the transfer of authority over co-operatives from Agriculture and Agri-foods to gain a more complete understanding of the sector. To facilitate proper collaboration, a federal committee to discuss the co-op file was formed by Employment and Social Development Canada, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Business Development Bank of Canada, and the 6 Regional Development Agencies across Canada. Furthermore, a federal, provincial and territorial working group to share information was created.

Encouragingly, co-operatives outperformed other sectors in 2009-2010 according to data collected by Industry Canada, and several have had success applying for and receiving federal funding.  Nevertheless, I firmly believe Industry Canada can do more to help co-operatives with capitalization, as access to funding could be improved and capital investment could increase.

I encourage you to consult Mr. Davies’s speech via the following link.

Over the course of the year I mentioned that the Coopérative de développement regional (CDR) – Acadie (which brings together New Brunswick’s French-language co-operative associations to promote and support collective entrepreneurship and the co-operative formula) is addressing succession planning through its activities and has developed a handbook for owner-operators with the financial support of several partners.

I’m happy to inform you that the handbook is now available via the following link.

I believe that the co-operative formula provides a sound solution to the challenge of succession planning and I voiced that belief during multiple caucus meetings.

Last week’s caucus meeting is expected to be the last one of the current parliamentary session given that an election is expected in October. It is my hope that the 42nd Parliament will also have a caucus dedicated to co-operatives.

Mauril

Honourable Mauril Bélanger, M.P. for Ottawa–Vanier Liberal Advocate for Co-operatives