See below for a brief description of On Co-op's current and future objectives regarding Government Relations. For a timeline of past activities, visit our "Past Initiatives" page.
On Co-op continues to advocate for co-operative businesses and bring forward issues and barriers faced by co-operatives to the Ontario government. Download our positoin papers from the links at right. We also provide advocacy tools and guidance to allow co-operatives to bring forward their own recommendations that benefit individual co-ops and their communities.
- 2016 ONTARIO BUDGET HINTS AT CHANGES TO CO-OPERATIVE LEGISLATION
- PRELIMINARY REPORT RECOMMENDS CO-OP OVERSIGHT LEAVE FSCO
- CHANGES TO THE CO-OP CORPORATIONS ACT
- ALL PARTY CO-OP CAUCUS MEETINGS
2016 Ontario Budget Hints at Changes to Co-op Legislation
The Ontario budget, released on February 25th, hints of possible legislative changes for Ontario’s co-operatives. On Co-op has been working with the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO, our regulator) and the Ministry of Finance on changes to our 41-year old Co-operative Corporations Act since well before the last minor changes were announced in 2009.
No timeline was given by the government for the changes, nor was any mention made of what the changes could be. We will continue to work closely with elected officials and government policy staff to modernize the regulatory framework for Ontario’s co-operatives, including at the two all-party Co-operative Caucus meetings at Queen’s Park next month, and during a lobbying & advocacy day that will take place in May.
On Co-op has dramatically increased the time and money is has allocated to government relations activities over the past twelve months, and will be further increasing our government relations efforts in the fiscal year that begins April 1. In the last year alone, the Ontario Co-operative Sector Government Relations Committee (a joint venture between On Co-op and the Conseil de la coopération de l’Ontario) made a number of presentations and submitted a series of strategic recommendations to the government for legislative change and a shift in what government ministry would oversee non-financial co-operatives. On Co-op and CCO jointly presented three position papers on what we consider to be our immediate asks for changes to co-op legislation.
PRELIMINARY REPORT RECOMMENDS CO-OP OVERSIGHT LEAVE FSCO
A preliminary report from an independant Panel reviewing the mandate of the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO) has recommended that oversight of co-operatives move out of FSCO. The report further recommends that the administration and regulatory oversight of the Co-operative Corporations Act and the incorporation of co-operative businesses should be transferred to the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services (MGCS).
In its response to the preliminary report, On Co-op and the Conseil de la cooperation de l’Ontario – through our joint Ontario Co-op Sector Government Relations Committee (GRC) – applauded the Panel for its position and urged it to adopt the co-op sectors’ additional recommendations, which include:
- That policy oversight of all types of co-ops(except credit unions/caisse populaires) should move away from FSCO (or its successor organization). And that non-regulatory oversight of co-operatives be transferred to the Ministry of Economic Development Employment and Infrastructure, in a renamed Social Enterprise and Co-ops Branch.
- That the administration and regulatory oversight the Co-operative Corporations Act and the incorporation of co-operative businesses should be transferred to the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services.
- That review and receipting of Offering Statements remain at FSCO or its successor organization and not move to the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC).
- That co-operatives be added to the types of companies that will be allowed to raise capital through Offering Memorandums that will be introduced in Ontario in early 2016.
- And that our recommendations for updates to co-operative legislation (already on file with the government) occur at the same time, with a full legislative review of the 41-year-old Actto take place within five years.
CLICK ON THE LINK AT RIGHT TO READ THE CO-OP SECTOR'S RESPONSE LETTER.
The report is only preliminary, with the final report and recommendations to be issued sometime in 2016. The government is not obligated to act on the report.
CHANGES TO THE CO-OP CORPORATIONS ACT
Ontario's Co-operative Corporations Act was proclaimed March 31, 1974. One of On Co-op’s roles in Ontario is to work with the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO) and the Ministry of Finance (MoF) to propose changes to the 41-year-old Co-operative Corporations Act . We also have ongoing dialogue with co-operatives about the barriers and challenges to co-ops in Co-operative and other legislation.
Our goal is to participate in an ongoing dialogue with our regulator so that the regulatory climate for co-operatives is effective, efficient and competitive, and enables co-operatives to best meet the needs of their member-owners and communities. Our mandate is to advocate on behalf of all the province’s co-operatives, and to provide tools to individual co-ops or sectors so they can advocate on behalf of their own constituencies.
The Regulatory Affairs Committee, made up of diverse co-op sector representatives, professionals and stakeholders, meets regularly with FSCO and MoF, and has presented them with a number of proposed changes to modernize the Act.
For a list of the proposals that On Co-op has made to FSCO and MoF on changes to the Co-operative Corporations Act, download the document from the list at right.
ALL PARTY CO-OP CAUCUS MEETINGS
The joint On Co-op and CCO Government Relations Committee has held four Co-op Caucus meetings at Queen's Park!
At the very first All Party Caucus on October 22, 2015, only a handful of MPPs or staff members attended. At the latest meeting on March 22, 2016, 22 MPPs were in attendance, exemplifying the increased efforts of the GR committee and consultant hired by On Co-op and CCO, as well as the awareness and interest they have generated in the past six months!
The three co-chairs of the All Party Co-op Caucus are:
- MPP Ernie Hardeman
- MPP Percy Hatfield
- MPP Marie-France Lalonde
Download the caucus meeting summaries from the link at right to learn more.