Incorporation grants your organization legal rights and recognition under the law. This legal status allows a co-op to purchase assets and take on debt, and generally makes it easier to raise capital. It also limits the liability of individual co-op members in the event of legal or financial difficulty.

While a group can operate as a co-operative on an informal basis, it cannot use the word ‘co-op' or ‘co-operative' in its name, or be recognized under the law, unless it is formally incorporated.

A co-op is incorporated either provincially or federally, and in turn is governed by either a provincial/territorial Co-operatives Act, or the Canada Co-operatives Act. The difference relates mainly to where the co-op will operate: a federally incorporated co-op will carry out operations in at least two provinces/territories, and have fixed offices in more than one province or territory. 

Incorporating a federal co-operative

Industry Canada – Corporations Canada is the regulatory agent for co-ops incorporated under the Canada Co-operatives Act. Their site provides access to the policies, legislation, forms and fees related to incorporating a federal co-operative. For help with the incorporation process, see the provincial and territorial links below for assistance.

Incorporating a provincial or territorial co-operative

Most of Canada’s co-operatives are regulated under a provincial or territorial Act. To find information about how to incorporate in your province or territory, including professional assistance with the process, select the appropriate link.

Alberta

British Columbia

Manitoba

New Brunswick

Newfoundland and Labrador

Northwest Territories

Nova Scotia

Nunavut

Ontario

Prince Edward Island

Quebec

Saskatchewan

Yukon