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Co-operative and Credit Union Census

The 2007 Ontario census was the first comprehensive survey of Ontario’s co-operatives and credit unions ever undertaken. One thousand three hundred and three co-operatives were identified from a list of over 1900 organizations.

Preliminary research and the actual census was conducted in 2006-2007 by specially trained Ontario Co-op staff. Data and statistical analysis was conducted by Imagine Canada in 2007 and early 2008.

The census included 52 core questions that could spin off into additional questions to obtain the necessary information. In total there were 77 questions, many of which were designed to be compatible with the 2002 National Survey of Non-profit and Voluntary Organizations (NSNVO) survey commissioned by Imagine Canada.

Data was collected in a variety of fashions, including online, telephone and print. Overall, there was a 44% response rate when partial responses were discarded.


The key considerations were divided into several chapters: co-operative membership, co-operative structure and co-operative resources. Much of the analysis looks at the differences between regions in Ontario, sectors and annual revenue categories.

  • Co-operative Membership: Membership details, boards and volunteering results from the survey are examined.
  • Co-operative Principles & Policy: The chapter discusses the survey results about the fifty percent rule, co-operative collaboration with other organizations and the role of co-operatives in developing public policy. 
  • Co-operative Resources: Revenue, service demand, staffing and external funding are studied in this chapter.
  • Key Comments: This chapter discusses observations and major themes that appear in the previous chapters.


The census information so far indicates that the Ontario co-operative movement is growing steadily. There are, however, challenges that still need to be overcome. These challenges include volunteer resources, further research into quantifying the environmental, social, economic, health and food sovereignty benefits or potential that co-operatives possess, reforming the fifty percent rule using a slide rule or sector-by-sector approach, further collaboration and public policy development, staffing and funding. Volunteer resources, research, public policy development and funding may be considered the most immediate priorities. Further work is required to address these gaps and grow the Ontario co-operative movement now and into the future.

To see the results of the 2007 Census of Ontario Co-operatives and Credit Unions, check the related documents at the top right of this page (including an overview, raw data and a promotional infograhic for the sector).


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Oct 11, 2018 + others - Directors of credit unions and caisses populaires are invited to join us for a unique learning, professional development and networking opportunity! New as well as young Directors are also highly encouraged to attend!

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