Atlantic Region – Making the Most of Meeting at the CWCF Annual Conference

By Eric Tusz-King

The participants from the Atlantic region at the Annual Conference in Tatamagouche made good use of their caucus time.  They have developed a 3-part plan for promoting and supporting of worker co-ops in the region.  On December 4th ten of those participants and a few more from provincial associations of co-ops met to move their ideas into action plans for early in 2020.

The overall goal of the plan is to develop and maintain of ecosystem for the support of worker co-ops.   This will include: networking among Atlantic CWCF members and allies at events and electronically; connecting with potentially interested individuals and groups who have common values to make them more aware of the worker co-op model for doing their work; and educating business organizations and governments on the value of the worker co-op model in general business development, but particularly in converting private businesses to worker co-ops.  This is an ambitious vision with very specific elements.

One of the first elements will be a half day or evening session tentatively named Worker Co-ops 101.  Three locations (Wolfville, Wentworth & Sackville, NB) have expressed an interest in hosting these educational sessions for members of worker co-ops and other co-ops, and those with common values.  There are two purposes for these Worker Co-ops 101 events – firstly, to promote and educate about worker co-ops and secondly, to identify the resources, needs and interests in exploring further educational efforts.  Two ideas for further events included a series of sessions with individuals or groups who want to explore and develop a new worker co-operative and a 2-3-day intensive session for developing the skills of individuals interested in assisting others interested in co-operative development.

Just Us Worker Co-op is interested in developing worker co-op cafés in various parts of the Atlantic Canada and will be ready in mid-2020 with financing options and educational resources to assist any who are interested.  The worker co-ops and allies in the Atlantic region see this a great opportunity to be very concrete in developing worker co-ops and sharing the inspiring stories of worker co-ops with others.

Co-operative Enterprise Council of New Brunswick (CECNB) and Coopérative de développement régional – Acadie (CDR-Acadie), both developer members of CWCF, are strong allies in the Atlantic region and have developed good working relationships with Atlantic provincial governments and business organizations to bring the co-op model to discussions regarding business succession or conversions to worker co-operatives.  Their work will identify opportunities throughout the Atlantic region, with an emphasis on rural communities, for maintaining the ownership and the employment in the local community.

The International Centre for Co-operative Management at Saint Mary’s University, also a CWCF developer member, is very supportive of this planning and will engage in the educational efforts as they are able.  CWCF provided timely and welcome financial support to hold a follow-up planning meeting on December 4 to forward these plans.

For further information on any of the above ideas, please, contact Eric Tusz-King, member of Aster Group Environmental Services Co-operative in Sackville, NB and Atlantic representative on CWCF Board of Directors. Email – and 506-536-7215.