A Look Back at 2020

A Look Back at 2020

The OCA staff’s transition to working from home in mid-March was thankfully seamless and we are very grateful for the support of our leadership and membership throughout the year. Despite all the changes and challenges, 2020 proved to be another busy and productive year for us! We’d like to share some of the highlights of the past year with you - read the whole thing or click on the strategic area below to learn more about that specific area. 

 

GOVERNMENT RELATIONS

CO-OPERATIVE DEVELOPMENT

CO-OPERATIVE EDUCATION 

MEMBER RELATIONS

COMMUNICATIONS

CONSULTING SERVICES

 


GOVERNMENT RELATIONS

  • We submitted a pre-budget consultation paper to the Ministry of Finance, thanking the Government for its commitment to modernize the outdated Act, while highlighting that the modernization of the regulations around Offering Statement limits and exemptions are still required. Specifically, we requested an increase to exemption thresholds for Offering Statements - last reviewed over 25 years ago. These thresholds are inadequate for today’s co-operatives, as they make it very challenging to raise the required capital for their businesses. Click on the consultation paper above to learn more. 
  • Our Executive Director Erin Morgan addressed the Ministry at the pre-budget hearings held at the Royal Canadian Legion in January, in Guelph ON. View her speech
  • Thirty representatives from the co-operative sector participated in a networking and informational breakfast in the early hours one February morning at Queen’s Park, hosted by OCA in partnership with the CCO. 14 Members of Provincial Parliament and several Ministry staffers came out to learn about co-ops and show their support of the Ontario co-operative movement. Three Co-op Caucus Co-Chairs, Randy Pettapiece (Conservative, MPP Perth—Wellington), Chris Glover (NDP, MPP Spadina—Fort York) and Mike Schreiner (Green, MPP Guelph) addressed the delegates and shared their support for and their commitment to improving the legislative environment for co-operatives. MPPs were also informed on how co-operatives raise capital, and the need to update the Offering Statement Regulations.
  • Following the legislative review of the Co-operative Corporations Act (CCA) that was completed in Summer 2019, the government announced that full authority and responsibility for the CCA would be transferred from the Minister of Finance to the Minister of Government and Consumer Services in early 2020. The transfer became effective as of April 1, 2020. The Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario (FSRA) continues to be responsible for reviewing offering statements.
  • OCA submitted a budget submission in October to the Ministry of Finance, presenting innovating solutions to rebuilding the economy after the COVID-19 crisis, as well as a required change for co-operative capitalization. 
  • FSRA released a draft “Interpretation and Approach Guidance” document for offering statements defined by FSRA as high risk offerings. The proposed guidance requires high risk offerings to provide enhanced disclosure as outlined in the document.
  • OCA invited all share capital co-operatives in Ontario to a meeting on November 3 to discuss a sector response to the draft guidelines. The result of the meeting was a letter submitted to FSRA to document questions and concerns with the high risk offering disclosure requirements.
  • Share capital co-operatives met with FSRA representatives on November 9 to discuss these questions and concerns. The meeting was well attended by Ontario’s co-operatives and all of these issues were discussed in detail with FSRA staff.
  • On December 14, FSRA released its final Guidance document for co-operatives proposing to issue securities via high-risk offerings on its website.They extended a thank you to OCA and several of its members for contributing to the development of the Guidance. 
  • OCA began updating our offering statement templates to meet the high risk offering requirements. These templates will soon be available on the OCA website. 

 

VISIT OUR GOV'T RELATIONS PAGES TO LEARN MORE

 


CO-OPERATIVE DEVELOPMENT

  • We conducted a presentation on “Legal Structures for Social Enterprise” at Sheridan’s HMC Campus in Mississauga, ON.
  • We participated in a workshop on “How to start a Co-op” at the Local Food and Farm Co-ops 11th Annual Assembly Huntsville, ON.
  • We partnered with the Centre for Learning, Social Economy and Work (CLSEW) at the University of Toronto, to undertake a research project that will be used as a diagnostic tool to support the decision making process of businesses evaluating whether they are suited for conversion to a co-operative. This project is expected to continue through 2021 with anticipated results being delivered in the fall.
  • We are partnering with Dr. Simon Berge at the University of Winnipeg on a SSHRC Partnership Engagement Grant application entitled: “Business Succession Planning: A co-operative approach.” The goal is to develop an integrated educational strategy for SME business owners and employees that will assist in creating succession plans to ensure the ongoing operations of their businesses thus preserving jobs and vital services. This project is expected to continue through 2021 with anticipated results being delivered in the fall.
  • We are continuing our work with Inclusive Economy London and Region and the Community Ownership Collaborative. This is part of our work sponsored by the Libro Prosperity Fund to support succession of businesses to employee or community owned co-operatives.
  • We are developing a Freelance Workers Platform Co-operative modeled after SMART.coop in Europe. The goal is to provide support, benefits and other services for “gig workers”. A partnership with WorkInCulture, ArtsPond, OCAD’s Inclusive Design Research Centre. Target launch 2021/22
  • We worked with 3 students from Conestoga College’s Public Service Post Graduate program. For their Capstone Project they surveyed Small Business Centres of Ontario. While they were not able to get a response from all the centres they did an excellent job of raising awareness of the co-operative model and we have had several follow up conversations with managers of the centres they contacted.
  • We partnered with the Government of Ontario and our rural agricultural co-ops to create an employment resource to collaboratively address and meet the hiring, training and labour retention needs in rural Ontario. The project is anticipated to be completed in March 2021. View the media release.
  • We answered 91 inquiries through our 911 and 411 co-operative development advisory services and have provided 4 board training and 7 co-op presentations
  • We assisted 4 of the 10 new co-operatives that incorporated in Ontario in 2020 and several are in development.

 

VISIT OUR CO-OP DEVELOPMENT PAGES TO LEARN MORE

 


CO-OPERATIVE EDUCATION

  • We launched a new CYL promotional video!
  • We began working with intern facilitators for the first time at CYL this year, due to an overwhelming number of requests from our senior participants last year, asking if they could come back and be an intern facilitator at camp.
  • We transitioned our CYL programming to a Virtual Camp throughout July and August, as a way to engage with and educate our leaders of tomorrow on the wonderful world of co-operatives and the values and benefits of co-operation! The virtual format provided us with an opportunity to connect with youth from outside of Ontario, primarily on the island of Dominica. Engaging youth from the island and sharing our common co-operative goals was one of the highlights of the summer!
  • We developed a CYL alumni database as a means to reconnect and reunite, discuss ways to engage youth, reminisce about all the great times we’ve had, plan a CYL Alumni reunion, and as a way to keep in touch. We also launched a CYL Alumni Facebook page, and sent two CYL Alumni newsletters to our 392 subscribers.
  • CYL also went social - as we developed CYL Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages!
  • We announced the new names for our camp weeks starting in 2021 – the Explorers, Trailblazers and Visionaries. We believed it was time to update the names to ensure that we communicate the age, co-operative spirit and some of the fun participants will experience when attending CYL.
  • We set up a new donation page on our website in order to facilitate support of the CYL program throughout the year.

 

VISIT THE CO-OP EDUCATION PAGES TO LEARN MORE

 


MEMBER RELATIONS

  • We launched a COVID Support page on our website to provide our members - and the greater Ontario co-operative community – with up-to-date information and resources as they relate to COVID-19.
  • We also reached out to our members with a survey asking for their input on how we could best assist them during this difficult time.
  • We partnered with The Co-operators to deliver the COVID Fund. 37 co-operatives across the province received a total of $20,000 in funds from OCA to help them adapt and rebuild from COVID-19, thanks to a generous initiative by The Co-operators.
  • We welcomed 2 new organizations to our membership and one individual including: Garden Centre Co-op Group, Co-operative Hydro Embrun and Andrew Escobar.
  • We highlighted our Associate Members/Co-op Service Providers in our monthly newsletters, and launched a campaign in November to promote each of our Associate Members every two weeks on social media.
  • We continued to profile our Board Directors and our Members in our monthly newsletters.
  • We supported our members with 70+ questions and requests for support through direct calls and email inquiries.
  • We held two informational webinars for our members on “Financial Supports for Individuals and Co-operatives” and “Human Resources Information for Employees and Co-op Employees during COVID-19.”
  • We held our first-ever virtual Annual General Meeting on September 22. We welcomed new directors Shylah Wolfe of the Local Food and Farm Co-operative for the position of Director-at-Large, and Maya Linsley for the position of Youth Director, to our Board. Terri Naylor of GROWMARK, Inc. and Julie Breuer of Central 1 were appointed as designated directors.
  • We began offering Virtual AGM support services and assisted 5 co-operatives with their online AGMS.

 

VISIT THE MEMBER RELATIONS PAGES TO LEARN MORE

 


COMMUNICATIONS

  • We held a fundraiser in support of United Way Centraide, and raised $5,000 ($1,000 from 5 different organizations) to support communities through the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • We collected news stories on co-operatives across the province and how they are addressing the needs of their communities through the pandemic, as part of our on-going campaign to showcase “Co-ops are Solution Providers.”
  • We developed and launched our first online interactive Annual Report for the 2019-2020 fiscal year, highlighting our success and challenges over the past year, and recognizing all the individuals and organizations that are part of our membership, our committees, volunteers and that support us with funding and sponsorships.
  • We developed a new corporate brochure to highlight how we can help individuals and organizations start, grow and connect sustainable businesses through co-operation.
  • We launched a mobile chat option on our website, and have received and responded to 119 chat requests since its inception in June!
  • We developed a series of free Guided Learning resources for co-operatives to help them conduct effective Virtual AGMs, Board meetings and Co-op Advocacy.
  • We launched an online Help Centre to address frequently asked questions and provide a series of articles, how-tos and guides to help our members get the answers they need in one place!
  • We launched a “Support Co-op” campaign in November, asking individuals to consider buying from a co-op – or purchasing a product made by a co-op - this holiday season, joining a co-op, or making a direct donation (where applicable), as a means to help co-operatives rebuild and thrive.
  • We sent out four media releases to Ontario news media and various trade publications, to raise the public profile of co-operatives in the province.
  • We sent out 12 newsletters to our 3,500+ subscribers, providing them with news and updates on our programs and initiatives, as well as links to articles, jobs and events in the Ontario co-operative sector.
  • We continued to engage our followers on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages, sharing many unique posts as well as news and information about the Ontario co-operative sector.
  • We participated in the first-ever national meeting of co-operative communications managers, hosted by Co-operatives and Mutuals Canada!

 

VISIT THE COMMUNICATIONS PAGES TO LEARN MORE

 


CONSULTING SERVICES

  • Through contract with the Directors’ Forum Co-operative, we supported their transition from an in-person to a virtual conference series, as well as assisted with their incorporation process to a Not-for-Profit co-operative!

 

VISIT THE DIRECTORS' FORUM PAGES TO LEARN MORE