5 social purpose co-ops helping communities recover from COVID-19

The co-operative model is becoming popular again in Canada, and could help communities build back better

Why It Matters

Pandemic recovery will require community-led solutions — to rising rates of food insecurity and addiction; to the lack of access to affordable childcare and pharmaceuticals; for the struggling arts sector; and more — and co-ops could be well-positioned to provide them.

Despite one of Canada’s most prominent co-operatives — Mountain Equipment Co-op — recently selling to an American private equity firm, the co-operative model is steadily growing in popularity (again).

In 2018, the latest available national data, there were 5,846 non-financial co-operative organizations in the country, up 92 from the previous year. Revenue generated by co-ops in Canada also jumped from $45 billion in 2016 to $52.9 billion in 2018. 

Healthcare and social services represent 8.7 percent of Canada’s co-ops — and because of their co-operative model, these organizations could be well-positioned to lead community-level and community-informed recovery from the pandemic. Here are five emerging organizations tackling some of the most pressing issues, whose work is made all the more urgent by the COVID-19 crisis.



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