Report from the Executive Director, April 2019

Hazel Corcoran

It is very exciting and energizing to be working under CWCF’s new Strategic Plan. The two main areas of focus are to Engage and Support our Members, and to Build Awareness and Scale Up Worker Co-ops, including collaborating with our members in the Solidarity Economy.  Thanks especially to significant member feedback, we have the sense that we are on the right path, and that we’re on the path together.  I’ll lead a one-hour webinar re: the new Strategic Plan on May 9th, at noon Eastern Time. 

In keeping with this new Strategic Plan, I am traveling more to meet with worker co-op members, and to help raise the profile of the worker co-op movement in the Solidarity Economy.  I attended and spoke on a panel early in March for a well-attended screening of the film A Silent Transformation in Toronto.  CWCF has also recently hosted (or co-hosted, with CDR-Acadie) events in Toronto, Sackville, NB and Halifax.  Coming next, CWCF will host a Worker Co-op Pizza Night in Winnipeg on May 2nd at 7 pm.  There, our board President Reba Plummer, local Director Rick Proven, Communications Manager Kaye Grant and I will all be in attendance.  On May 11th, in Calgary I’ll co-present a session on Worker Co-ops with Jared Blustein of the fledgling Allium worker co-op restaurant

CWCF will be offering a series of member webinars in the next couple of months:  Holding Effective Meetings, with Rick Proven, and Worker Co-ops 101, with Peter Hough both in two parts, and lastly one on The Co-operators’ member benefits with Manon Monette.  More details will follow soon.

We have hired a part-time Social Media Coordinator, Mateusz Salmassi.  Mateusz’s focus has been on connecting the potential of worker co-ops to transform the economy, to the benefit especially of indigenous peoples, people of colour, young people, and all who are concerned about climate justice.  The number of our social media followers is growing quickly; check it out on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

CWCF’s Arts and Cultural Grants and WC technical assistance grants have both attracted many applications.  Decisions will be made on both by April 30th.  

CWCF’s board was excited to welcome three new directors to its recent in-person meeting held in Toronto:  Yvonne Chiu of the Multicultural Health Brokers’ Co-op, Ian Marsh of Brierwood Apps (from near Nelson, BC), and Rick Proven of Sun Certified Co-op in rural Manitoba.   We were also pleased to welcome our Government Affairs Advisor, Alain Roy, to a portion of the meeting.  At the board meeting, CWCF approved two new WC members:  the West Arm Woodworking Co-op in Nelson, BC (“built by woodworkers for woodworkers: providing accessible and affordable shop space, workshops and wood ordering services”), and the Ecosystem Collective in Sackville, NB.  The Ecosystem Collective supports the development of low-carbon rural business solutions, coordinates area-specific efforts in the green economy, and creates jobs for individuals who want to work in this sector.

CWCF is participating in an Ad-hoc Advisory Group on the federal Social Innovation and Social Finance Initiative, seeking to influence this fund of funds.  We seek to grow the Tenacity Works Fund substantially through this initiative.  There is a discussion paper recently made available on it by ECSD.

Congratulations to Jessica Provencher, CWCF’s Quebec director, for having recently been elected from the Quebec region to the board of The Co-operators.  Jessica joins our board president Reba Plummer and myself on this board of directors.   

Last but not least, work is continuing on GM Oshawa – the possibility of there being a worker or community-controlled co-op producing electric vehicles in this plant; it’s being called the Green New Deal for Oshawa.  Russ Christianson is representing CWCF.  The last local meeting took place on April 25th, in Oshawa, and information about it is here. We are supportive of this initiative and watching developments closely.