The All Party Co-operative Caucus met on February 25 to here a presentation from the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC). Michel Bergeron, Senior Vice President, Marketing and Public Affairs at the BDC began by providing an overview of their operations. He explaining that the BDC has 100 offices across Canada and that their stated objective is to be a leader in making Canadian entrepreneurs the most competitive in the world, this includes co-operatives.

As a Crown Corporation the BDC operates as a self sustain organisation. They receive no funding from the federal government. They have $20 Billion in committed financing and $862 million in venture capital. BDC already has 41 co-op clients with a total portfolio value of $30 million. A large percentage of the portfolio is in the north and in aboriginal owned co-ops.

Of that $30 million co-op portfolio, less than $50K is in Ontario. Questioned on this, Mr. Bergeron replied, “We don’t actively pursue this sector.”

MPs asked more than once if the BDC would recognize that co-ops are a safe investment and if they would create a fund to support co-operative financing. Barring that would BDC be open to participating in the Canadian Co-operative Investment Fund. Mr. Bergeron answered no to the former – a special BDC fund – and yes to the latter, participation in the CCIF “if the fund meets our investment criteria”

Another MP asked if the BDC would be open to financing renewable energy co-ops, to which the answer was that BDC is already doing so.

The Caucus meeting concluded with MPs requesting that BDC establish a meeting with CMC about possible participation in CCIF. The three co-chairs, Joe Preston, Hélène Leblanc and Mauril Bélanger have indicated that the All Party Caucus on Co-operatives will try and meet three more times before the end of the parliamentary session.