A Guide to Setting up a Co-operative in Ontario


What co-operatives can do for you and your community

For many years, Ontarians have used co-operatives as a way of combining their energy, skills, and resources to reach shared goals and fulfil common needs. People form co-ops to:

  • Lower the cost of business supplies and consumer goods. Because business service co-ops and consumer supply co-ops buy in bulk, members benefit from lower costs on everything from food to fertilizers.
  • Start their own businesses and create their own jobs. Worker co-ops are enterprises owned and operated by their employees. Worker co-ops can be formed for any business purpose, from carpentry to film production.
  • Get better prices for products and services. By forming marketing or producer co-ops, people can earn more from their products and services by selling directly to the public. These co-ops also help producers lower their marketing and distribution costs.
  • Obtain convenient, reasonably priced child care. Child care co-ops give parents an important role in shaping the care of their children.
  • Find affordable housing and have a chance to help make the decisions about the upkeep of their homes.
  • The co-operative way of doing business and providing services is guided by some basic principles:
    • Open, Voluntary Membership: Anyone who can use a co-op’s services and is willing to accept the responsibilities of membership may apply to become a member.
    • Democratic Control: Members have an equal voice in running their co-op. Each member has one vote, no matter how much he or she has invested, and only members may vote.
    • Limited Return on Capital: Since the main purpose of co-ops is to provide goods, services or jobs for their members, people do not generally invest in co-ops for speculative purposes. By law, co-op shares may appreciate in value only to a limited extent.
    • Co-operative Education: Co-ops are committed to educating their members and the general public about the co-operative way of delivering services and doing business.
    • Co-operation among Co-operatives: To encourage the growth of co-ops, co-operatives and co-op organizations actively develop local, provincial, national, and international networks.

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Guide to Setting up a Co-operative in Ontario_0