Co-operatives operating in Ontario are primarily governed by the Co-operative Corporations Act (commonly referred to as the 'Act'). The Financial Services Corporation of Ontario (FSCO) is an agency of the Ministry of Finance and is the body primarily responsible for regulating the co-operative sector (including Credit Unions). However, Credit Unions in Ontario are subject to different legislation: the Credit Unions and Caisses Populaires Act 1994. The Deposit Insurance Corporation of Ontario (DICO) is another relevant body that provides deposit insurance for financial co-operatives.
TWO WAYS TO LEARN MORE ABOUT ONTARIO'S CO-OP LEGISLATION AND REGULATORY ENVIRONMENT
(1) On Co-op's Guide to the Co-operative Corporations Act is available in a searchable e-version (PDF format) or a soft-cover printed copy. It includes all of the changes made to the Act in 2009, other updates and extra resources. This is essential information for all non-financial co-operatives!
The e-version is priced at $14.00, and the printed version is $30.00. Discounts are available for the On Co-op membership. More details and ordering information here.
(2) On Co-op's online course "The Legislative and Regulatory Framework for non-financial co-operatives" is available 24/7/365. The readings, exercises and time spent online total about 10 hours. The cost is $229, with a $50 discount for the On Co-op membership. Details and registration at http://s.coop/coopcourses.
CALL FOR ACTION ON LEGISLATIVE CHANGE
THE CO-OP SECTOR'S POSITION ON LEGISLATIVE CHANGE.
The 41-year old Ontario Co-operative Corportations Act is outdated and needs to be mordernized to reflect the current economic climate of co-operatives in Ontario. On Co-op and CCO have jointly asked the Ontario government to make the following changes to legislation affecting non-financial co-operatives.
For a more detailed explanation, download the Sector Recommendations document from the link at right.
1) CO-OPERATIVE OVERSIGHT BELONGS AT MEDEI. Oversight of non-financial co-operatives should shift from the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO, an agency of the Ministry of Finance), to the Ministry of Economic Development Employment and Infrastructure (MEDEI), so that all business types are housed within one Ministry.
2) UTILIZE SERVICEONTARIO FOR CO-OP INCORPORATIONS. Currently co-op incorporation involves sending letters by postal mail to/from FSCO and paying by cheque. This is a completely manual process, which often takes weeks. Business incorporations and payments through ServiceOntario are online and take minutes.
3) IMPLEMENT SECTOR-RECOMMENDED CHANGES TO CO-OP LEGISLATION. Three important changes to co-operative legislation have been approved by the co-op sector. Position papers on these recommendations have been sent to the Government. Furthermore, a full review of the 41-year old Co-operative Corporations Act (CCA) should be undertaken within five years.
- Amend Section 144 (1), the “50% Rule”, also known as the “Business With Members Rule”.
- Amend Sections 11.1 & 11.2 of Regulation 178: Offering Statement Exemptions.
- Simplify the Criteria for Audit Exemptions (CCA s. 123(2) and Regulation 178 s. 13.1)
REGULATORY AFFAIRS COMMITTEE
The Ontario Co-operative Association (On Co-op) has a Regulations and Legislation Committee that consists of co-operative sector representatives and various types of professionals who work with co-ops (lawyers, accountants and co-operative developers). (Jointly with CCO, we also have a government relations committee.)
The RA committee is responsible for identifying potential changes to the legislation and regulations that govern co-ops and to advocate for these changes with the provincial government. Members of this committee meet quarterly with representatives of our regulating body, the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO) in addition to representatives from the Ministry of Finance. These meetings are used to discuss operational and regulatory issues for co-operatives, discuss proposed changes to the Co-operative Corporations Act and to maintain a good working relationship with the government bodies that are responsible for regulating co-operatives.
When necessary, On Co-op and its RA Committee will execute sector-wide consultations to foster discussion and consensus about proposed changes to the Act. The latest formal consultation (in late 2010), addressed proposals to change Par Value Shares and the 50% rule. More information on this consultation and its results can be found under "related pages" in the right sidebar of this page. More recently, informal discussions were held, which led to our recommendation that changes be made to the audit exemption thrresholds.
You will also find links to helpful downloads regarding co-op legislation in Ontario, as well as an order form for the "Guide to Ontario's Co-operative Corporations Act" (2012 edition), which presents the requirements of the Act in plain, accessible language.