Canadian Worker Co-operative Federation

 La Fédération canadienne des coopératives de travail

May 2012
Vol 3, Issue  5                                                                        

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Executive Director's Report / Rapport de la Directrice générale

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(Le français suit)  This month the report focuses on several important items such as the CWCF's Fall Conference in Hamilton, the recent CWCF board meeting in Gatineau, and more information regarding the RRSP changes. To read the report in full, please follow this link to our site.  


Ce mois-ci, le rapport de la Directrice générale est consacré à certains dossiers importants, notamment le prochain Congrès de la FCCT à Hamilton, Ontario, et les changements apportés au programme REER qui risquent d'affecter gravement de nombreuses coopératives de travail. Pour voir le rapport complet, suivez ce lien.
Training from Co-opZone
Co-opZone is pleased to again be offering its co-op development training courses in 2012-13, starting in September. The basic information about the courses is available here. Please share this with others you know who may have interest. CoopZone is offering various levels of training: the Foundation Program and the Advanced Program. We will also offer a new Basic Introduction to Co-op Development course. This course will be appropriate for people interested in understanding the basic co-op development process but who will not be active co-op developers.  This is being offered in response to demand by students. There will be a webinar about the courses held on May 31st, 12 noon Eastern Time. Please RSVP to Hazel Corcoran by the end of the day on May 29th; you will receive the dial-in information by end of the day on May 30th.


  Changes to RRSP Program
There have been very important changes to the co-op RRSP program which make it more challenging to use; please read this section especially if your co-op uses the RRSP program or if you were contemplating this possibility.

The changes which were enacted a few months ago in the Income Tax Act make it no longer possible to hold shares in an RRSP in a co-operative or other enterprise where one holds more than 10% of a class of shares - except under certain conditions over the next 10 years, and with the appropriate form filed with the Canada Revenue Agency by June 30, 2012 . This restriction also applies if you and a connected person such as a spouse or child together hold more than 10%. This is a serious issue for many of the worker co-ops using our co-op RRSP program. Further, it means that going forward, new co-ops cannot use the program unless everyone involved holds less than 10% of each class of shares. CWCF, along with partner co-op organizations, has lobbied the federal Finance Minister to try to have this reversed, but so far this has not worked - except that it resulted in the 10-year transition period. Apparently there have been some cases of fraud, and the government has opted to make investments which previously were completely acceptable to be labeled "prohibited." CWCF has contacted all of our members who are using our RRSP program. However, if you are in any doubt as to whether you are affected, please contact us. For more information, see this link. (NB this was part of the Executive Director's report in April 2012, but we wanted to provide it as a separate article so that all of our members are aware of these changes.)
Les changements au programme REER
Des changements ont été adoptés il y a quelques mois dans la Loi sur l'impôt qui font qu'il n'est plus possible de détenir des actions dans un REER dans une coopérative ou une autre entreprise, où l'on détient plus de 10% d'une classe d'actions - sauf dans certaines conditions au cours des 10 prochaines années, et avec la forme appropriée déposé auprès de l'Agence du revenu du Canada par le 30 juin, 2012. Cette restriction s'applique également si vous et une personne liée, comme un conjoint ou un enfant détiennent ensemble plus de 10%. Il s'agit d'un problème grave pour beaucoup de coopératives de travail qui utilisent un programme REER coop. En outre, cela signifie qu'à l'avenir, les nouvelles coops ne peuvent utiliser le programme, sauf si toutes les personnes impliquées détiennent moins de 10% de chaque catégorie d'actions. La FCCT et des organisations partenaires ont fait pression sur le ministre fédéral des Finances pour tenter de faire changer cette décision, mais jusqu'à présent cela n'a pas fonctionné - sauf pour l'obtention de la période de transition de 10 ans. Apparemment, il y a eu quelques cas de fraude, et le gouvernement a opté de rendre "interdits" les investissements qui, auparavant, étaient complètement acceptables. La FCCT a contacté nos membres qui utilisent notre programme REER. Toutefois, si vous avez un doute quant à savoir si vous êtes affecté, s'il vous plaît contactez-nous ou bien la Fédération dont vous êtes membre. Pour plus d'informations, voir ce lien. (Noter que cette information a paru dans le rapport de la Direction générale d'avril 2012, mais nous voulions donner l'information dans un article distinct aussi.)
Visiting Mondragon
Recently, some members of Sustainability Solutions Group, a Canadian worker co-operative and member of the CWCF, visited Mondragon worker co-operative federation in the Basque region of Spain. SSG, which is a collection of sustainability consultants, has worked on LEED certification across the country. During their visit to Mondragon, they discovered how other worker co-operatives have also been leaders in green design. You can read a blog of the encounters here.
1er mai anticapitaliste

Media Co-op

(Le français suit) Students showed their solidarity on May Day, despite attempts by the police to quell the demonstration. Much of Québec society is railing against austerity, particularly youth, who are standing up against the running of the province like a business corporation. The Montreal Media Co-op produced a video which gives us a glimpse into the culture of the battle between labour and capital in Charest's Québec. Supporting the media co-op, which has regional sites for Halifax, Toronto, and Vancouver, is positive for both the alternative news movement and the co-operative sector.


Pour la journée internationale des travailleurs les étudiants ont organisé avec le mouvement ouvrier, malgré que la police essayait de bloquer les demonstrations. Cette vidéo, realisée par le Coop de média de Montréal, décrit la situation au Québec et à Montréal. Elle offre un aperçu de la culture et l'état de la lutte entre le travail et le capital. Regardez le vidéo iciSoutenir la CMM a l'effet d'aider à la fois le mouvement des nouvelles alternatives et le secteur coopératif.   

Green Worker Cooperatives and Earth Day 

A South-Bronx organisation called Green Worker Co-operatives (GWC) brings together environmental, social, and economic sustainability. This year for Earth Day GWC put on an event called New York City Green Fest. At the festival, attendees "learn how to green their homes, find a green job, hear inspiring speakers, participate in workshops, see a film festival, taste delicious local foods, enjoy family activities, and shop". This took place at the nation's largest green marketplace with over 250 small businesses and co-operatives committed to sustainable practices. What's more? Those who came on bicycle were able to attend the festival at no charge.

Les Scop et Hollande
Le 7 mai, François Hollande a été elu président de la France. Represantant le Parti socialiste, Hollande veux lutter contre les courants néoliberaux en France et au Union éuropéenne. Il a rencontré la CG-Scop (une organisation de tutelle pour des coopératives françaises) pour en parler. Vous pouver regarder le vidéo sur le site web de Scop.


Manitoba Co-operative Development Tax Credit Fund
Manitoba's co-operative community has enthusiastically embraced the Co-operative Development Tax Credit Fund. This fund, which was implemented in October of 2010, provides a substantial tax credit to co-ops who contribute to the Manitoba Cooperative Association. The fund has been a huge success and has resulted in $164 500 in
contributions from the cooperative community. These funds have
been used to provide technical assistance and small grants to existing and expanding co-operatives. Many co-ops, including several worker co-ops, have now been able to complete projects because of this opportunity. For more information, check out the news release
OnCoop Receives Grant
OnCoop(Le français suit) At the end of April, Guelph MPP Liz Sandals announced that the Ontario Co-operative Association will be receiving a grant of $90,500. The grant, announced during the United Nations International Year of Co-operatives, will allow the Ontario Co-operative Association to expand economic opportunities for Ontarians by supporting and developing 10 to 15 new co-operative enterprises in the North, East, and South-Western regions of the province. Click here for more.

En avril, Membre de l'Assemblée provinciale Liz Sandals a annoncé une subvention pour l'Association des coopératives de l'Ontario de 90 500 $. Cette subvention va créer des occasions pour toute la province.  L'initiative va appuyer la création de 10 à 15 nouvelles coopératives  dans les régions du nord, est, et sud-ouest de l'Ontario. Pour apprendre plus, voir le rapport.
The Co-op Difference
This past month the Canadian Cooperative Association launched a new website, with the intention of spreading the word about the viability of cooperatives in today's economic environment. The site is geared toward new and existing cooperatives, as well as people with budding interest in the movement. It is important for the growth of the cooperative sector to make this information known. Please share this accessible learning tool by passing this important link around.


LaunchPad Day of Workshops - Co-op Leaders Meet in DC 

On May Day this year, the Brooklyn organisation LaunchPad held a series of workshops designed to "foster independence from the mainstream". In solidarity with Occupy Wall Street, the skillshare was focused on building "alternatives to capitalism", including how to create a worker co-operative. Some participants explained why they chose to come out to the workshops: "I don't really know how I feel about the [Occupy] protests, but I feel people need to take a stand and take action." And another participant added: "Since I didn't feel like I had the option of striking today, and since my work situation is such that I wouldn't have wanted to strike, I feel really good that I could participate in this way."


Simultaneously, co-op sector leaders met in Washington to share success stories with federal government officials. Hundreds met in several breakout sessions to discuss items such as "small business development, job creation, innovative agriculture programs, and financial cooperatives". According to an article from, there are nearly thirty thousands co-operatives operating in the United States today, accounting for more than $3 trillion in assets, over $500 billion in total revenue and $25 billion in wages and benefits. In the United States the worker co-op sector is also quite robust, though the organisation at the national level is rather new (the United States Federation of Worker Co-operatives having been formed only in 2004). For the full story, click this link.

The Canadian Worker Co-operative Federation (CWCF) is a national, bilingual grassroots membership organization of and for worker co-operatives, related types of co-operatives (multi-stakeholder co-ops and worker-shareholder co-ops), and organizations that support the growth and development of worker cooperatives.  CWCF's e-newsletter is available free of charge to anyone with an e-mail address and an interest in worker co-operative developments in Canada. 
Please send any comments and suggestions to: 


James Mitchell 

Editor of CWCF Newsletter