Information and Learning Sessions
The CWCF has held annual meetings 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 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. Proceedings from the prior several years of conferences are available on the CWCF website, under CWCF Conferences. The next conference will take place in Vancouver in 2021.
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, and about other worker/multi-stakeholder co-ops in Canada and internationally. The CWCF website includes these and other resources, at: www.canadianworker.coop.
CWCF provides webinars for worker co-op members. Anyone may access the PowerPoint presentations by clicking here. Most sessions are recorded and these recordings are also often available. These sessions have covered topics such as Conflict Management, Good Governance, Financial Reporting, and Learning from Failure to Lead to Co-op Success. These sessions cover topics as diverse as marketing, finances, taxation and co-op legislation – and many more.
Worker Co-op Bylaws
CWCF has a set of model worker co-op bylaws, available here.
Access to Technical Assistance, Capital and Development Grants
Access to Technical Assistance Grants, and Capital
The CWCF provides small grants up to $3,500 to co-op members of CWCF to hire professional help (co-op 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. For financing needs greater than $50,000, CWCF refers co-ops to the Canadian Co-operative Investment Fund (CCIF), and asks that worker co-ops applying to CCIF contact CWCF so that CWCF can assist in the process of obtaining capital from CCIF.
Members have access to the CWCF RRSP and TFSA 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 and/or TFSAs. (For more information on this program see: http://canadianworker.coop/funding/rrsp-tfsa-program/. This page includes Frequently Asked Questions and all of the detailed information needed to access this program. NOTE: federal rules 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 formed a Network of Worker Co-op Developers, which is now effectively integrated into the 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. Until there is a listing of developer members on the CoopZone website, please contact Kaye Grant at CWCF (communications (at) canadianworker (dot) coop) for assistance with finding a developer.
Access to Member Benefits, CMC
CWCF members (as Members of a Member) are eligible to receive member benefits, such as discounted member rates for programs and Conferences, from Co-operatives and Mutuals Canada.
Group Insurance Plans
The Co-operators offers a Member Benefits Program to CWCF members & their members and employees, for a variety of coverages for individuals (auto, home, travel, farm, etc.), as well as the Co-op Guard® program for the insurance needs of co-operatives (commercial 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. In addition, the Member Benefits Program is also open to individual co-op developer members. You can read the details of types of insurance available through each program here.
Member Benefits Program – insurance for individuals
This program provides individual members of your co-op access to exclusive, value-added coverage and savings for a wide range of products. More information on the special coverages available to CWCF members can be found here. Contact The Co-operators today to learn about how your members can get more through the Member Benefits Program.
Co-op Guard® – insurance for co-operatives
Created by and for co-operatives, Co-op Guard® combines all the protection your co-operative needs in one complete package. Each co-op has its own unique needs so you can tailor the coverage to your own needs. Coverages range from essential liability coverages like Commercial General Liability and Blanket Accident Insurance to more specialty liability coverages like Directors and Officer’s Liability and Privacy Breach. Co-operatives can also access employee benefit programs and Group RRSP’s through Co-op Guard®.
Group RRSP’s and Pensions
CWCF refers members to The Co-operators for group retirement plans. Both Group RRSP’s and Group Pension Plans are available. For more information including who to contact, see: https://www.cooperators.ca/en/Group/group-retirement/plan-sponsor/types-of-plans.aspx. Group RRSP’s can be obtained through Co-op Guard®.
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, the reason that CWCF has the Tenacity Works Investment Fund to invest in worker co-ops is due to our lobbying efforts. Further, 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. A 2019 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 the 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.