CCA News Briefs

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Co-operative News Briefs, an electronic newsletter of the Canadian Co-operative Association, is published every two weeks and distributed by e-mail. It is available free of charge to anyone with an e-mail address and an interest in co-operative developments in Canada and around the world.
Updated: 8 years 3 weeks ago

SOME GOOD NEWS FOR CO-OPS IN FEDERAL BUDGET 

Thu, 2009/02/05 - 3:01pm

Co-operatives and credit unions are likely to benefit from some of the measures in the federal budget, which was tabled in Parliament on January 27.

The budget contained a number of measures aimed at increasing credit, as well as some tax reductions and depreciation changes which will generally have a positive impact on credit unions.

The budget also commits the federal government to increase its investment in social housing, including $1 billion for renovations and energy retrofits on a 50-50 cost-shared basis with the provinces, as well as new funding for social housing for seniors, persons with disabilities and First Nations.

In the Agriculture section of the budget, there were three announcements of interest to co-ops: proposed amendments to the Farm Improvement and Marketing Cooperatives Loans Act (FIMCLA), new investment in slaughterhouses and a five-year, $500-million agricultural flexibility program.

While the budget did not specifically mention renewal of the the Co-operative Development Initiative, the Canadian Co-operative Association (CCA) is optimistic that the program, which assists new and emerging co-ops, will be renewed.

The budget also made no reference to international development, which was described as "unfortunate" by the Canadian Council for International Cooperation, a federation of non-governmental organizations in the development field. While Department of Finance officials confirmed that the already scheduled 8 per cent increase to foreign aid spending will be maintained, CCIC is calling for increases to aid spending averaging 15 per cent a year for the next 10 years in order to reach the internationally agreed target for aid spending of 0.7% of Gross National Income.  CCA had also urged  the government to reach the 0.7 target in its pre-budget consultation brief.

Go to the CCA web site for a more detailed analysis of the budget and its impact on the co-operative sector.

Categories: Cooperatives

IT'S INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT WEEK

Thu, 2009/02/05 - 3:01pm

The Canadian Co-operative Association (CCA) invites you to celebrate International Development Week (Feb 1-7) and the many ways Canadian co-operators are turning poverty into prosperity through their international development efforts.
 
International Development Week occurs each year at this time as an opportunity for Canadians to publicize and learn about the role they are playing in international development.
 
"Canadian co-operators are there where it counts," said CCA Director of International Development Jo-Anne Ferguson. "They are creating sustainable co-operative enterprises - member owned businesses that create jobs, generate profits, provide needed products and services, teach life-changing skills, re-invest in their communities and create opportunities for future generations."
 
Canada's credit unions and co-operatives work in partnership with co-operative movements in over 20 developing countries to bring a better future to millions of men, women and children. They do this by channeling their knowledge and volunteer services to CCA's international development program and by giving generously to CCA's fundraising arm, the Co-operative Development Foundation of Canada (CDF). 
 
For more information on International Development Week events and activities, visit the IDW page on the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)) web site.

Categories: Cooperatives

CCA CELEBRATES LARGEST-EVER INSTITUTE

Thu, 2009/02/05 - 3:01pm

Over 90 co-op leaders, directors, staff and experts from across Canada and around the world came together in Banff, Alberta February 1-3 to participate at the 11th CCA Institute of Co-operative Studies.
 
The bi-annual centrepiece of CCA's common table program had sessions that focused on strategy, leadership, innovation and engagement.  Speakers of the calibre of Bob Burlton, Chair of Co-operative Financial Services (UK),  David Labistour, CEO of Mountain Equipment Co-op, Professor Michael Cook, Robert D Partridge Chair in Co-operative Leadership at University of Missouri-Columbia and Professor Richard Leblanc, Professor of Corporate Governance at York University challenged, enlightened and educated participants over two and a half days.  

The event was moderated by Lou Hammond Ketilson, Director of the Centre for Studies in Co-operation and Françoise Morissette, Fellow at the Industrial Relations Centre, Queens University and author of Made in Canada Leadership.
 
Presentations will be available on the Institute web page later this month.  The next Institute will take place in February 2011 and past participants will be canvassed on their preferred location.  For more details contact Quintin Fox, Member Services Manager, at quintin.fox@coopscanada.coop.

Categories: Cooperatives

CO-OP DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM FOR WOMEN IN MONCTON RECEIVES FEDERAL FUNDING

Thu, 2009/02/05 - 3:01pm

The federal government has announced $300,000 in funding for a project in Moncton aimed at helping low-income women establish their own co-operative businesses.

The Co-operative Enterprise Development Program for Women is a partnership between the Co-operative Enterprise Council of New Brunswick and an anti-poverty agency, Support to Single Parents.

A Centre is scheduled to open in September 2009 which will provide training in areas such as financial literacy, market research, business planning, marketing, promotion, board development, management, networking, and other business and co-op development topics. Participants will also be provided with a variety of supports and resources to help them develop their co-op business ideas starting with conceptualization through to preparing business plans, accessing credit and capital, start-up, and consolidation.  The Centre will use coaches and mentors from the co-operative and business community to help ensure the success of the new co-ops that become established through this program.   

Categories: Cooperatives

AGRIS CO-OPERATIVE POSTS RECORD SALES

Thu, 2009/02/05 - 3:01pm

AGRIS Co-operative, a farm supply and grain merchandising business owned by more than 1,200 farmers in Southwestern Ontario, has posted another record year with sales of more than $166 million.  The co-operative set a record last year at $119 million in sales after a 2006 merger.

The record sales mean members will share in more than $600,000 in rebates. The patronage rebate will be $205,000 and another $405,000 from interest on investments will be distributed to members. 

AGRIS general manager Jim Campbell said farmers had a better year in 2008 overall, and a better year for farmers means a better year for the co-ops where farmers buy seed and fertilizer and market their grain.

Categories: Cooperatives

UFA CO-OPERATIVE CLOSE TO ACQUIRING SPORTSMAN'S WAREHOUSE

Thu, 2009/02/05 - 3:01pm

Alberta's UFA Co-operative Limited has moved one step closer to acquiring Sportsman's Warehouse after shareowners in the US-based retail chain approved the proposed deal.

UFA announced plans last November to acquire a majority interest in Sportsman's Warehouse, an outdoor outfitter with annual revenue topping $800 million and 67 stores in 38 US states. The approval by Sportsman's Warehouse shareholders is an important milestone in the due diligence process. Although there are a number of issues still to be addressed, UFA remains committed to completing the acquisition.

The proposed acquisition of Sportsman's Warehouse is part of a a controlled diversification strategy that includes construction and outdoor-lifestyle businesses. UFA acquired a Canadian outdoor outfitter, Wholesale Sports, last July.  

Categories: Cooperatives

CREDIT UNIONS, AUTO INDUSTRY JOIN FORCES TO STIMULATE CAR SALES

Thu, 2009/02/05 - 3:01pm

In an effort to stimulate auto sales in the United States, General Motors and Chrysler have joined forces with US credit unions to provide  low-cost loans and special pricing to the country's 90 million credit union members.

The Invest in America program is making over $80 billion in credit available for auto loans through credit unions across the US, enough to finance the purchases of about four million vehicles.  The program started in Michigan, and has since been expanded to all 50 states.

Meanwhile in Canada, the Windsor Family Credit Union (WFCU) has created a a cash pool of $5 million to finance new 2008 and 2009 models to eligible borrowers at four local dealerships. WFCU is offering car loans at a low rate of 5 per cent for five years until the end of March for eligible borrowers.

Categories: Cooperatives

MANITOBA CREDIT UNIONS MERGE

Thu, 2009/02/05 - 3:01pm

Four Manitoba credit unions will become one this summer as a result of a membership vote to merge the Altona, Dufferin, Agassiz and Heartland credit unions  

The amalgamation creates a credit union with over $1 billion in assets, 35,000 members, 200 employees and 11 branches in south-central Manitoba.  The merger will take effect on July 1, subject to regulatory approval.

Meanwhile, members of Caisse Laurier and Ste. Rose Credit Union, also in Manitoba, have voted in favour of a merger between their organizations. The merged entity, which will have $35 million in assets, over 2,200 members and 12 employees, will begin operations on October 1 as Prairie Mountain Credit Union, also pending regulatory approval.   

Categories: Cooperatives

FEMPRO EMPLOYEES FORM SHAREHOLDER CO-OP

Thu, 2009/02/05 - 3:01pm

Employees of FEMPRO, a Quebec manufacturer of feminine hygiene products, have formed a shareholder co-op and now hold 9.5 per cent of the company's shares. More than 90 per cent of FEMPRO employees invested $400,000 to take an equity stake in their company.

The move by FEMPRO employees comes less than a year after the company was bought out by Capital régional et coopératif Desjardins, managed by Desjardins Venture Capital. Desjardins Venture Capital is part of Desjardins Group, Canada's largest financial co-operative.

"The creation of this co-operative is the realization of our co-operative difference, and we are extremely proud to be part of it," said Louis L. Roquet, President and Chief Operating Officer of Desjardins Venture Capital.

Categories: Cooperatives

THE CO-OPERATORS TO HOLD YOUTH SUSTAINABILITY CONFERENCE

Thu, 2009/02/05 - 3:01pm

The Co-operators is calling on young people across Canada to participate in Impact: The Co-operators Youth Conference for Sustainability leadership, which will take place a the University of Guelph on September 24-26.

The Co-operators is partnering with academics and non-governmental organizations to bring 180 Canadian students together with a variety of speakers and experts to develop sustainability solutions for their campus, their community and their current and future workplaces. All conference costs will be covered for the selected participants, but students must contribute their time and commitment. Participants are also required to take concrete action after the conference.

Until February 27, students who will be 19-25 and enrolled in any discipline at a Canadian college or university in September 2009 my apply at www.impactyouthsustainability.ca. Participants will be selected from various fields of study, perspectives and regions to ensure a diverse and multi-disciplinary approach.

Categories: Cooperatives

CCA LAUNCHES CALL FOR CASC SCHOLARSHIPS

Thu, 2009/02/05 - 3:01pm

The Canadian Co-operative Association (CCA) is inviting university students across Canada to apply for the three Canadian Association for Studies in Co-operation (CASC) scholarships it administers.  

The scholarships are:

  • the Alexander Fraser Laidlaw Fellowship (open to graduate students)
  • the Amy and Tim Dauphinee Scholarship (open to graduate students)
  • the Lemaire Co-operative Studies Award (open to undergraduate and graduate students)

In addition to the monetary awards, the winners will be provided with a free one-year membership in CASC and free registration at CASC's 2010 conference.

The deadline for applications is April 15, 2009. For more information and application forms, visit the scholarships page on the CCA web site. 

Categories: Cooperatives

LA SIEMBRA INCREASES SUPPORT FOR DOMINICAN COCOA CO-OP

Thu, 2009/02/05 - 3:01pm

La Siembra, the Ottawa-based worker co-operative that produces Cocoa Camino chocolate products, has announced that it is now sourcing a significant portion of the cocoa powder used in its hot chocolate directly from a co-op factory in the Dominican Republic.

La Siembra made the decision after CONCADO, the Dominican agricultural co-operative that grows the cocoa, announced that it would purchase and operate a cocoa processing factory in that country. Previously, the CONCADO cocoa used in Cocoa Camino hot chocolate mixes was processed in Europe.

In the near future, La Siembra hopes to complete its transition to the exclusive use of cocoa processed by its producer partners in its Canadian-made products. Two years ago, the company gave similar support to partners in a sugar co-operative in Paraguay which had begun to process its own sugar in a rented factory. Today, all the sugar in Cocoa Camino's Canadian-made products comes from this factory.   

Categories: Cooperatives

UK CO-OP MERGES WITH BUILDING MUTUAL

Thu, 2009/02/05 - 3:01pm

Britain's Co-operative Financial Services  and Britannia, the UK's second-largest building society, are to merge to form a "supermutual", a decision that could lead to consolidation of other smaller mutuals. The deal will form a business with £70 billion (C$125 billion)  in  assets, 9 million customers and 300 branches.

The merger was made possible by a parliamentary bill to remove legislation that prevents mergers between mutuals and co-operative groups.  A mutual is a type of co-operative in which member do not contribute to the capital of the company, but derive their right to profits and votes through their customer relationship.

Co-operative Financial Services is part of The Co-operative Group and owner of the internet bank Smile.

Categories: Cooperatives

BOB DYLAN SAYS YES TO UK CO-OP AD

Thu, 2009/02/05 - 3:01pm

Singer Bob Dylan has given the go-ahead for a British co-operative to use one of his most famous songs in a television ad campaign.

The Co-operative Group, which runs a string of supermarkets as well as banking, funeral and travel services, will feature the song Blowin' in the Wind in its advertising. The song, released in 1963, was rated by Rolling Stone as the 14th greatest song of all time.

This is the first time Bob Dylan has allowed one of his songs to be used in a British ad, although other Dylan songs have been used in advertising in the US. A spokesman for his record company said Dylan was swayed by Co-operative Group's ethical approach to business in allowing the song to be used.

Categories: Cooperatives

DON'T FORGET - NOMINATE THE GREATEST CANADIAN CO-OPERATOR BY FEBRUARY 16!

Thu, 2009/02/05 - 3:01pm

February 16 is the deadline for submitting your nomination for the Greatest Canadian Co-operator, a (deceased) pioneer of the Canadian co-op movement who will be the first person inducted into the Canadian Co-operative Hall of Fame.

To submit your nomination on-line, go to the Canadian Co-operative Hall of Fame web page on the CCA web site.

Categories: Cooperatives

THE MEETING PLACE

Thu, 2009/02/05 - 3:01pm

February 19: CCEDNet youth mentorship teleconference. Visit the CCEDNet web site for more information. 

May 27-29: Canadian Association for Studies in Co-operation (CASC) conference, Carleton University, Ottawa, ON 

June 3-5: 2009 CCEDNet National Conference, University of Winnipeg

June 16-19: Celebrating a Century of Co-operation: Honouring the Past, Building the Future -- CCA National Congress, Westin Hotel, Ottawa, ON

Categories: Cooperatives

UFA CELEBRATES 100 YEARS

Thu, 2009/01/22 - 9:38am

UFA Co-operative Limited, which was created in 1909 as United Farmers of Alberta, celebrated its first century in business on January 14.

UFA was originally created through the amalgmation of the Canadian Society of Equity and the Alberta Farmers Association, who agreed to work together to improve conditions for agricultural producers and bring modern conveniences to rural Alberta. Back then, they started with a modest membership of 5,000 and bought supplies in bulk by the carload.

Today, UFA consists of four distinct and growing business units: agriculture, petroleum, construction and lifestyle retail. UFA has more than 110,000 members, a network of 36 Farm and Ranch Supply stores, more than 120 petroleum locations, comprehensive construction capabilities and acquired retail stores that provide lifestyle products for hunting, camping and fishing. 

Based in Calgary with locations across western Canada, UFA will mark the anniversary year by hosting centennial grassroots events in some of its operating communities this summer. An interactive exhibit that traces the history of UFA will run at the Provincial Archives of Alberta from January through March. UFA is also producing a hardcover centennial book that will feature a photographic retrospective of UFA and the people and communities it serves.

Categories: Cooperatives

NINE CANADIAN CO-OPS MAKE GLOBAL 300 LIST

Thu, 2009/01/22 - 9:38am

Nine Canadian co-operatives are among the world's top 300 in terms of aggregate turnover (sales), according to the International Co-operative Alliance's 2008 Global 300 List.

Desjardins Group was listed as the top Canadian-co-operative at no. 33 on the list, followed by Federated Co-operatives (55), Coopérative Fédérée du Québec (92), The Co-operators (118), Agropur (124), UFA Co-operative Limited (172), SSQ Financial Group (199), Calgary Co-operative (264) and La Capitale (290).   Six of the nine Canadian co-operatives -- Federated, The Co-operators, UFA, SSQ, Calgary Co-operative and La Capitale -- improved their ranking from the 2007 survey.

The 2008 list shows that the 300 top co-operatives are responsible for an aggregate turnover of $1.1 trillion (US), the size of the 10th largest economy of the world, nearly the size of the economy of Spain. The list also shows that co-operatives are growing in terms of turnover- 14 per cent over the turnover of the top 300 co-operatives reported in 2007.

This is the third consecutive year that the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA) has published the Global 300 list to highlight the important role co-operative enterprises play in national and international economies.  Countries with the most co-operatives featured on the list this year include France, the United States, Japan, Germany and the Netherlands.           
                         
A list of the top co-operatives in developing economies - the Developing3 00 List - is also available. Both lists can be downloaded at www.global300.coop.

Categories: Cooperatives

CO-OPS, SOCIAL ECONOMY GROUPS URGE FEDERAL INVESTMENT TO STIMULATE ECONOMY

Thu, 2009/01/22 - 9:38am

Co-operative sector organizations have joined forces with community economic development and social economy groups to  urge the federal government to invest in both "hard" and social infrastructure in the upcoming federal budget.

In a letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, representatives of seven organizations called on the government to "support community-based enterprises and to partner with communities who choose to become involved in a process of community economic development."

The letter was signed by representatives of the Canadian Co-operative Association, the Conseil canadien de la coopération et de la mutualité, the Conseil québécois de la coopération et de la mutualité, the Canadian Community Economic Development Network, the Chantier de l'économie sociale, the Social Enterprise Council of Canada and the Canadian Social Economy Research Partnerships.

The letter calls on the government to invest in:

  • access to housing;
  • access to health and home care services;
  • increased renewable energy sources;
  • access to enployment for marginalized groups; and
  • renewal of federal programs to help establish new and emerging co-operatives, such as the Co-operative Development Initiative (CDI).

Meanwhile, the Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada has made its own submission to the pre-budget consultation process, calling on the government to provide repayable loans for affordable housing repair and renovation, create a $30 million loan fund for energy-saving building retrofits for federal housing co-operatives and increase funding for the Affordable Housing Initiative.

Categories: Cooperatives

CDI RENEWAL CAMPAIGN GATHERS SUPPORT

Thu, 2009/01/22 - 9:38am

Organizations both within and outside the co-operative sector are voicing their support for the renewal and expansion of the federal Co-operative Development Initiative (CDI).

While CDI provides support to new and emerging co-ops, many established co-operatives, including Federated Co-operatives, Mountain Equipment Co-op, Co-op Atlantic, The Co-operators, Vancity, Coast Capital Savings, and credit union centrals in the Prairies and Atlantic Canada, have sent letters to Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz and Finance Minister Jim Flaherty calling on the government to renew and expand the federal program.  In all, more than 50 organizations have written letters calling for CDI"s renewal.  

New co-op groups that have benefited from the program have also spoken out and at least fifteen recipients of  Agricultural CDI funding have met with and written to their local Members of Parliament as well as Ministers Ritz and Flaherty.

The CDI campaign has also received support from such organizations as the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, the National Farmers Union, the Canadian Renewable Fuels Association and the Canadian Community Economic Development Network (CCEDNet).  In addition to sending a letter in support of CDI, CCEDNet recommended the renewal and expansion of CDI in its submission to the government's pre-budget consultations, and  posted the CDI campaign appeal on its web site.

For more information on CDI, and a tool for writing to your Member of Parliament, visit the Canadian Co-operative Association web site at www.coopscanada.coop/cdi.

Categories: Cooperatives