In order to address the challenges the co‑op sector is facing, as well as continue to advocate for Government recognition and support through the establishment of co-operative-provincial partnerships, On Co-op needs co‑op advocates.
Advocates are most important in the days, weeks and months leading up to an election. During this period we have the opportunity to work with candidates from all parties to advocate for a better legislative environment for co-operatives. Stay tuned for more information.
- Check out our new Infographics!
- Ways to participate in co-op advocacy
- Who are co-op advocates?
- Why advocate?
- Proof that advocacy works
WHile many of our advocacy resources on this site are outdated, there is still information in them that you can draw from and apply to your own advocacy work. We are also workin on developing some new tools. In November 2016, we created three infographics, which you are free to view and use for your own advocacy purposes:
1. Co-ops 101
2. Agriculture & Food Co-ops
3. Insurance & Financial Co-ops
Download them by visiting the Downloads section on the right-hand toolbar!
We are also in the process of developing a new FactSheet on "Co-op Advocacy," which we hope to release some time in the New Year.
WAYS TO PARTICIPATE IN CO-OP ADVOCACY
There are many different ways that you and/or your co-operative can get involved in co-op advocacy. The following options have varying degrees of commitment depending on your availability and comfort level:
- Organize and attend a meeting with the MPP in your co-op's riding – even better, get together with other co-ops in your riding and tag team – a great way to really showcase the contributions made by your co-ops to the community to your MPP!
- Ask On Co-op to help you organize a meeting with you MPP. We can also provide you with advice on how to do this and on how to handle the meeting, if you like.
- Invite your MPP to a co-op event and/or on a tour of your co-operative – suggest a photo op and publish it in your newsletter or send a press release to your local media.
- Attend a BBQ or fundraiser for your MPPs, and introduce yourself and tell them how your co-op has contributed to the community.
- Participate in On Co-op's letter-writing and e-Advocacy campaigns, when active.
It’s worth noting that the most effective advocates are usually those that advocate on an ongoing basis. For more useful advocacy resources, including promotional documents you can give your MPP, look under “downloads” at the top right of this page or search our co-op resources library.
WHO ARE CO-OP ADVOCATES?
Co-op advocates can range from managers to board members and sector stakeholders, or even dedicated employees. What all advocates share in common is the ability to have a very real impact on the present and future of the co-operative sector.
Advocates reinforce the message that co-ops contribute to the social and economic fabric of the province, while raising key issues and challenges the sector faces to local government. There are currently numerous co-ops in almost all of the 107 electoral ridings, presenting plenty of opportunity for collaboration. In fact, there are more than 1300 co-ops with 1900 locations in more than 400 Ontario communities, which are run by more than 49,000 volunteers and 15,500 staff members. Co-ops have a huge presence in Ontario, but we need to become more visible. With IYC 2012 behind us, the ICA's Blueprint for a Co-operative Decade before us and Canada's 150th birthday fast approaching, now is the time for advocacy!
Collaborative grassroots advocacy is a great choice for the sector because it stays true to co-operative values (such as community, empowerment and participation) while keeping advocacy costs down. The exposure from the UN 2012 International Year of the Co-operative also presents a great launching point for 2013 advocacy. All we need is people like you!
Grassroots advocacy presents a number of unique benefits to you, your co-op and the co-operative movement that other forms of advocacy may not confer. Examples include:
- humanizing the co-operative movement
- attracting new customers and members
- increasing democratic participation
- keeping provincial association costs down
- making the most of human and financial resources through volunteerism
- establishing useful relationships with your community leaders
- inspiring more co-operatives to form, and
- raising awareness for your co-operative and the co-operative model in your immediate community
Most importantly, grassroots advocacy leverages the power of constituency. Your MPP is more likely to listen and seriously consider your concerns and desires because you are their constituent. Don't be hesitant to use that status to your advantage.
PROOF THAT ADVOCACY WORKS
Co-op advocates have made considerable progress for the sector at the federal level, particularly recently. They used the momentum of IYC to push for a special committee on co-operatives. The committee heard and discussed 64 presentations from across the sector over 5 days, ultimately leading to a report of 8 key recommendations for government action.
As a result, the government agreed to establish a new federal partnership with co-operatives through Industry Canada on January 28th, 2013. The move recognizes the growing diversity of the sector and provides a focal point for discussion and action between the province and co-operatives. The federal government also announced changes to lending programs administered by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CHMC) that that will allow federally funded housing co-ops to pursue private financing to address structural concerns. As a result, housing co-ops are now able to make much-needed renovations that were previously unaffordable!
Both of these developments are excellent progressions for the sector, and wouldn't have been possible without the aid and dedication of co-op advocates!