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Province tweaks rules governing co-operatives

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The province today tabled legislation making it easier to launch co-operatives.

Bill 17, The Co-operative Amendments Act, would allow groups that normally form separate co-ops, such as workers and consumers, to combine their resources to create a co-op together.

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"Some people join co-ops because it is in their financial interest, but others join co-ops because they support the values that the co-op stands for," said Family Services and Consumer Affairs Minister Gord Mackintosh.

"If, for example, people want to do more to support the new Peg City Car Co-op but don't need the services offered, under the new model, supporting members could lend money to the co-op and have a say in its operation."

The proposed amendments would further modernize the existing act by:

  • updating provisions for worker co-operatives to enable them to use more flexible business models by allowing volunteers and contracting parties to become members;
  • enabling co-ops to hold meetings and vote electronically;
  • reforming provisions on access to membership lists to better balance the privacy and democratic rights of members; and
  • reforming the special tribunal that hears appeals from members of housing co-ops who face eviction by providing them with enhanced procedural protections.

"This legislation will provide new and innovative options for families that rely on our housing co-op sector," said Housing and Community Development Minister Kerri Irvin.

"For example, a 55+ housing co-op needing capital investment or more expertise on the board can use the hybrid model to add a new class of supporting members. Family and community members could invest in the co-op and join its board to help seniors manage the property."

Mackintosh noted that while the current act works for many co-ops, many want more options to grow and start new co-ops.

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