Building the national and global co-operative economy

CMC is an active member of the International Co-operative Alliance, the stewards of the co-operative principles and identity. CMC is the only Canadian member of ICA.  This year, at the Global Co-operative Conference, CMC nominated and campaigned for the presidency of Monique F. Leroux. Monique Leroux won a majority of the votes and is now the first ever Canadian President of the ICA.

The CMC strategic plan is closely aligned with the ICA Blueprint for a Co-operative Decade which aims to make co-operatives the fastest growing form of business by 2020. To achieve that ambitious goal, the Canadian co-operative sector, through its active participation in CMC is working on a series of initiatives that will improve the opportunities for co-operatives, new and existing, by creating a better business environment.

Our “Common table” for the co-operative economy in Canada represents all types of businesses including housing, homecare, health care, student, forestry, agriculture, insurance, financial, energy and provincial federations. The Common Table met in person at the Co-operative Congress, June 15 to 18 in Saskatoon and again in Ottawa November 25 -26. These meetings are the key to achieving our strategic goals and creating opportunities.

CMC is also actively engaged in the development of the 2016 International Summit in Quebec City. This will be the third Summit since 2012 with more than 3,000 co-operators from around the world expected to be in attendance. In this setting we will gain a better understanding of opportunities in a globalized economy for a sector that is traditionally very focused on local realities. It’s time to lift our heads up again and share what we know and learn what other successful co-operatives are doing.

Creating intelligence and dissemination

CMC is involved in task force overseeing research on demutualization and indivisible reserves. The research has been completed and is now being disseminated. CMC is also directing a review of the Canada Co-operatives Act for non-financial co-operatives.

We are actively building current data on the size and growth of the co-operative economy in Canada, with a specific focus on the makeup and economic activities of our members. The goal is to become a research partner with the government of Canada and assure the reliability and effective use of data on the sector. This will be central to encouraging better policy. This push for better data will also be a key to facilitating future research collaborations between universities and co-operative sector.

CMC published a report entitled Co-operative for Sustainable Communities: Tools to Measure Co-operative Impact and Performance.  This report is both timely and in high demand around the world as co-operatives look to do their part for a more sustainable economy in the face of climate challenges.

Federal Government Representation

In 2014 – 2015 CMC organized an important series of All Party Caucus meetings to building awareness of the co-operative economy with MPs and Senators. The caucus was an effective forum for exposing politicians to the breadth of the co-op sector as well as the co-op model. The meetings covered everything from financial co-operatives to renewable energy co-operatives and drew MPs from all parties. CMC will work to continue this type of engagement with the newly elected 43rd Parliament.

CMC is working with Industry Canada to form an education strategy for bureaucrats from various ministries as well as the regional development agencies so that they are aware of the applicability the co-operative model. This is an identified gap in awareness that limits community economic development support for co-operatives in every region.

CMC is also lobbying Industry Canada for direct support of Canadian Co-operative Investment Fund (CCIF) to assure that the impact investments of our members, and members of members are amplified effectively across Canada to the benefit of all co-operatives and mutuals.

CMC will continue to lobby for government engagement that builds on the important work of the Special Committee on Co-operatives in 2012 concerning the role, and potential, of co-operatives in Canada.

Building business opportunities

It is CMC’s responsibility, through our common table, to promote principle #6 – Co-operation among Co-operatives. We are looking to build cross sector relationships that result in collaborations such as Housing co-ops re-mortgaging with credit unions and investments in the CCIF.

Promoting the Co-operative Advantage

CMC works diligently at building the co-operative identity and recognition in Canada. Both publicity and education offer an opportunity to build our mutual brand based on our values and principles.  We are working with the ICA to promote and register co-operatives to use a common ethical business marque that will build consumer confidence and help people make better economic choices.

By facilitating and supporting Co-op Week celebrations every October, we rally co-operatives from all sectors to do their part and share their co-operative advantages. Although Canadians view co-operatives and mutuals favourably, there is still a generally low level of awareness that needs constant effort to overcome.

To that end, CMC engages with likeminded people and stakeholders to promote the co-operative model through the best stories and research via social media channels and through traditional (earned) media.

Building public awareness about the contributions of co-operatives to society is a process that will improve the society we are creating and contribute to our member’s bottom line.


What are CMC’s responsibilities?

  • Building a co-operative economy
  • Promoting the co-operative business model
  • Using collective co-operative identity as a competitive advantage
  • Embracing and promoting the co-operative principles
  • Creating business opportunities with other co-operatives
  • Sharing best practices and facilitate research
  • Involved in social finance and impact investing programs
  • Educating the public about the co-operative advantage
  • Planning and producing learning event opportunities
  • Enabling research with various universities
  • Creating partnerships with economic development stakeholders
  • Solidifying data on the co-operative economy and impacts on the Canadian economy
  • Accessing Federal government programs to finance national co-operative projects
  • Influencing and educating Federal government bureaucracy and politicians about the co‑operative  model