Information and Learning Sessions
The CWCF has held annual meeting and conferences in all regions of the country. The highlights of these conferences are the person-to-person networking which occurs and the practical workshops directed at enhancing the skills of the CWCF’s members. Members receive discounts on fees (and travel subsidies, for co-op members) to attend the CWCF annual conference. The conference includes training workshops, co-op business tours and great opportunities for networking. Workshops on such topics as capitalization, conflict resolution, crisis management, strategic planning, the RRSP program, and gender issues have been held.
Access to Hard-to-Find Information on Worker/ Multi-stakeholder Co-op Issues
CWCF’s Resource Guide, in the form of web links to practical documents, is designed to be used as a reference guide by people considering the start-up of a worker co-op (or multi-stakeholder co-op with partial worker control) and organizations that support co-op development, as well as by co-ops that are operating. Members receive our electronic newsletter. Read hard-to-find information on subjects such as how to find capital for a co-op, EI eligibility, taxation and sweat equity, and about other worker/multi-stakeholder co-ops in Canada and internationally. The web sites which we maintain are: www.canadianworker.coop (CWCF), and www.coopzone.coop (for CoopZone – resources on development of co-operatives of all types, including worker co-ops).
Tele-learning Sessions and Web-based Training
CWCF provides conference call training sessions (“tele-learning”) to co-op developer members and increasingly often to worker co-op members. Anyone may access the PowerPoint presentations, session notes and/or the audio recordings, by clicking here. These sessions cover topics as diverse as marketing, taxation and co-op legislation – and many more.
Archive of Worker /Multi-stakeholder Co-op Bylaws
Access to Technical Assistance, Capital and Development Grants
Access to Technical Assistance Grants, and Capital
The CWCF provides small grants ($1500) to co-op members of CWCF to hire professional help (developers and lawyers who are members of CoopZone, and potentially others, if necessary) to deal with issues they are facing. CWCF can also help groups identify other sources of start-up and development grants. In addition, CWCF staff can directly provide technical assistance. Information on CWCF’s Technical Assistance Program is available here. Further, CWCF may be able to provide capital to your co-operative through our Tenacity Works Worker Co-op Fund, typically with loans in the range of $15,000 to $50,000.
CWCF’s Co-op Index Grant Program
The Canadian Worker Co-op Federation (“CWCF”) offers a limited number of grants, through our accumulated reserves, to worker co-operatives to enable them to carry out the Worker Co-op Index. The grants cover consulting services provided by members of the CoopZone Co-operative Developers’ Network.
The Co-op Index is a tool to enable worker co-ops to evaluation their functioning in operations and governance, as compared to an ideal worker co-op and the co-operative principles. (See http://www.coop.oindex.eu for more information.) Download the application here:
Members have access to the CWCF RRSP program. The program facilitates the members of a co-op to invest any shares they own in their co-op into individual member’s Self-Directed RRSPs. (For more information on this program see: http://www.coopzone.coop/financing). Choose RRSP’s for Co-op Capital.doc for a summary explanation; and RRSP Support Manual Fnl.doc for a detailed explanation of the program. NOTE: federal rules now require that each investor in this program hold less then 10% of each class of shares. Therefore there must be at least 11 member investors and/or outside investors, preferably more, for a co-op to be eligible to use this program.
Access to Professionals who provide Technical Assistance to Co-ops
The CWCF has formed a Network of Worker Co-op Developers which is now part of CoopZone Developers’ Network Co-operative to help ensure that there are competent consulting resource people available to groups wishing to start a worker co-op, or who need assistance once the co-op is operating. In addition, CoopZone maintains a list of lawyers who work with co-ops, the CoopZone Legal Network.
Access to Member Benefits, CMC & Co-op Provincial Associations
CWCF members (as Members of a Member-Owner) are eligible to receive member benefits, such as discounted member rates for programs and Conferences, from Co-operatives and Mutuals Canada and most Co-op Provincial Associations, such as the Ontario Co-operative Association.
Group Insurance Plan
The Co-operators offer a Member Benefits insurance plan to CWCF members & their members and employees, for a variety of coverages (auto, home, travel medical, farm, etc.), as well as the Co-op Guard program for the insurance needs of co-operatives (corporate insurance, group benefits for medical/dental, etc.). NOTE: these plans are open to all co-ops which are members of CWCF, both worker co-ops and associate member co-ops.
Provision of information on the Co-operative Pension Plan
CWCF provides to members basic information and contact information for the Co-operative Superannuation Society Pension Plan, a plan which any co-operative or credit union in Canada may join, as follows. Plan members are eligible to set any rate of contribution; the Society suggests a contribution rate of 5% of salary to be matched by the employer’s 5%. Note that only incorporated co-operatives and credit unions are eligible for this plan. For more information, see www.csspen.com; or request a basic information package.
Lobbying Efforts on Behalf of Worker Co-ops
The CWCF is committed to ensuring that worker co-ops have a level playing field with other forms of business. For example, when worker co-op shares were not included in the RRSP regulations allowing small business shares as eligible investments, the CWCF lobbied successfully for their inclusion. CWCF was actively engaged in the lobby to create and renew the federal Co-op Development Initiative, a program which was in place from 2003 until 2012. The reason that CWCF has the Tenacity Works Investment Fund to invest in worker co-ops is due to our lobbying efforts. A 2014 document on the CWCF’s lobbying history and priorities for the worker co-op movement is available here.
Model Co-op Legislation
The CWCF participated in the development of the model legislation for co-ops. This initiative, co-sponsored by the national umbrella co-operative associations of the time, was the basis for a new federal Cooperatives Act in December, 1999. The CWCF drafted the specific sections which deal with worker co-ops. The federal Act, in turn, has also served as the basis for many provincial Co-op Acts.