Report from the Executive Director, April 2023

  • Co-op Mixers
  • Worker Co-op Academy
  • New Member Orientation
  • Lobbying
  • CEBA Loans
  • JEDDI Project

Spring is in the air across Canada, and CWCF is gearing up for a busy stretch as the days get warmer and longer. One highlight of this period has been our co-op mixers, which have already taken place in Toronto and Halifax and are coming to several other cities in the coming months (see the separate item in this newsletter for the exact dates). These events have already provided a great opportunity to connect with CWCF staff, local co-ops, and co-op developers, educators & allies, to help build stronger relationships with CWCF’s Worker Co-op membership, and stronger regional networks in the co-op sector generally. Thanks to those who’ve joined us so far, and we look forward to seeing others at the upcoming ones.

Another springtime initiative taking shape is our Worker Co-op Academy, which is slated to launch its third cohort in May. The Academy has been a successful launching pad for a number of worker co-ops, including Oasis Lavenders of Summerland, BC; Black Women Professional Worker Co-op based in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA); and The Makehouse, in Victoria. Toni Boot, cofounder of Oasis Lavenders – among many other  participants, current and past–, highly recommends the Academy to other groups considering the worker co-op model.

“The Academy was really helpful,” she says. “I think that working collaboratively with other people that are in the same position as you are, whether exploring it as a different business model, or are just starting up–you can’t really put a price tag on that.”  

She also noted that it would be useful even for groups who weren’t sure that the worker co-op model was right for them. 

To help support all our newer worker co-op members, CWCF has recently begun a new member orientation process. Communications and Member Services Manager Kaye Grant and myself, we  have also started reaching out to offer the opportunity to connect with us via phone or Zoom to share highlights, challenges, and opportunities for greater collaboration.

With regard to CWCF lobbying efforts, we are focusing on making the most of the momentum created by the Canadian Employee Ownership Coalition, led by Social Capital Partners, in getting mention of Employee Ownership Trusts (EOTs) in the March 2023 federal budget. CWCF was more than pleased to see the federal government recognizing the importance and the potential of employee ownership for the economy and for society. We are partnering with Co-operatives and Mutuals Canada, the People-Centred Economy Group (convened by CCEDNet) and members of our Co-op Business Succession Committee, the JEDDI Business Conversions Project Advisory Group, and our Government Relations Committee to move forward an agenda which would have worker co-operatives receive any tax or other incentives accorded to EOTs.  Given that a government relations campaign centred on leveling the playing field has proven to be relatively easy to do in the past, especially when we approach government with both people from Québec and others from the “rest of Canada,” aka the “ROC.” All of these conditions can be met, and we will be seeking meetings with government officials late next month.  I am feeling guardedly optimistic.  

In other actions to support our members, recipients of the federal government’s Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) loan program who fully repay their loans by December 31st, 2023 will receive loan forgiveness of up to 33%, or $20k. CWCF’s Tenacity Works Fund is developing a loan offering to support CWCF member co-ops who would otherwise not be able to fully repay their CEBA loan by this deadline.

Last but not least, CWCF will be hosting on Tuesday, May 22nd an evening session on JEDDI Business Conversions, at the Glitter Bean Cafe in Halifax, as well as live-streamed.  Presenters will include Juliet ‘Kego of the Black Women’s Professional Co-op and our own JEDDI Project Coordinator, Janielle Maxwell.  The start time will be at 7 pm AT; and it will last about an hour plus time for Q&A.  We hope you will join us!  Free to attend; please register via Eventbrite.