On Co-op works to improve the regulatory and legislative environment for Ontario co-ops. We conduct sector-wide research to determine the most pressing common challenges Ontario co-ops face and then advocate for needed changes. We also profile our members and promote the socio-economic impact and diversity of the Ontario co-operative sector to the Provincial Government—all without full-time GR staff and on a shoestring budget.
In order to better serve our members with the resources we have, On Co-op recently shifted its GR Mandate. Read on to clarify the roles and activities of On Co-op’s GR work and learn about the tools and resources we provide to the sector. Our end-goal is to be viewed by the government as Ontario’s Co-op experts and to be consulted accordingly.
WHAT ON CO-OP DOES:
REGULATION & LEGISLATION COMMITTEE
The Regulations and Legislation Committee meets (as needed) to address desired changes in co-op legislation and regulations. Quarterly meetings are held with FSCO and other government agencies to promote the co-operative sector’s common regulatory aims. For more information/ detail visit the “Regulations” page.
From time-to-time On Co-op performs sector-wide consultations to determine the most pressing challenges the sector faces or to measure the sector’s response to a hot-button issue. The most recent consultation was in 2010 (see link under “more information” for details).
RAISING THE PROFILE/ PROMOTING THE CO-OPERATIVE SECTOR TO PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT
On Co-op leveraged the world-wide attention that the International Year brought and urged government to take measures aimed at creating a more supportive environment for the development of co-operatives in Ontario. We continue these efforts today through various profile-raising initiatives and by cultivating relationships with key Ontario Ministries. These joint public/ co-operative meetings largely promote the socio-economic impact, diversity and democratic foundations of the sector. In particular, they emphasize co-operatives strategic positioning to partner with government to deliver on shared priorities and goals in an efficient, affordable and accountable manner.
With IYC behind us, the ICA's Blueprint for a Co-operative Decade before us and Canada's 150th birthday fast approaching, On Co-op is confident in the co-operative sector's ability to raise their profile with government dramatically over the next several years.
For a review of our previous activities in this area visit our “Past Initiatives” page. For more details on our current and future initiatives visit “Our Objectives” page.
QUEEN’S PARK RECEPTIONS
On Co-op has hosted numerous annual Queen’s Park Receptions to provide the co-operative sector with opportunities to greet and inform their Ministers and MPPs regarding the challenges they face as well as the social and economic benefits they bring to the table.
While it is very important to keep a profile with the province, executing these events is a costly endeavour. We strongly believe that our future gatherings at Queen’s Park should be more strategic, and our message (or “ask”) should be much clearer and stronger. For the time being, therefore, On Co-op will refrain from hosting these recpetions and focus on building strategic partnerships and relationships with key ministries through smaller, more focused meetings.
In the future, we hope to add a “Lobby Day” as part of the Queen’s Park Reception. This would create the opportunity for co-op leaders and representatives to attend pre-arranged meetings with their Ministers or MPPs prior to the Reception to discuss issues of importance.
WHAT ON CO-OP HELPS YOU DO:
SELF-ADVOCATE REGIONALLY (OR AS A SECTOR)
On Co-op does not have the resources to continue its previous advocacy work at the regional level, and is putting the onus back on the sector to get involved in their own GR work.
Unfortunately, we cannot continue many of our previous activities in these areas (such as a considerable amount of meetings with individual MPPs, MPP surveys, the distribution of key co-operative documents and promotional materials, attending pre-election all candidates meetings, etc.). However, we wish to support co-ops, credit unions and caisse populaires in their efforts to advocate locally and keep the momentum of IYC 2012 alive.
There are a variety of resources on our “Advocacy Tools” page that provide promotional materials and guidance. We also highly suggest getting involved in your local/ regional co-op cluster or a sector-specific co-operative network.
Contact Peter Cameron (see below) to find networks near you. On Co-op also cultivates new networks throughout the year via our roundtables and regional conferences. These connections, as well as your status as a constituent, will increase the efficiency and effectiveness of your advocacy efforts!
THE NATIONAL CONTEXT
The honourable Mauril Bélanger (MP Ottawa-Vanier and Liberal Advocate for Co-operatives) played a key role in the development and implementation of the 2012 Special Committee on Co-operatives. This committee dedicated itself to an extensive critical review of the Canadian co-operative context, resulting in a report with 8 key suggestions for government, several of which are now being implemented (most notably the move to Industry Canada). The committee’s success has left an ongoing legacy for the co-operative sector and has dramatically raised our profile within the legislature, leaving Canadian co-ops and credit unions in a great position for advocacy in 2013.