Penticton and Area Cooperative Enterprises (PACE) is a worker cooperative committed to community base recovery through supported employment, supported education, and consumer operated services in Penticton, British Columbia.
In this day and age of growing cutbacks and less resources, we are looking towards innovations in delivery of Mental Health Services. This approach to Community Based Recovery is an alternative for Health Providers and Human Resource Ministries to consider. The elements of responsibility, work, and citizenship must be at the core of a solid rehabilitation program. Recovery must be viewed as the individual’s journey to reach their full potential and maintain control of their lives.
To provide transition to employment, specific skill training, paid work opportunities and opportunities to develop consumer run businesses to persons diagnosed with a mental illness and referred by mental health service providers.
Issues that the Cooperative Addresses
PACE is a rehabilitation program that helps address the gap that exists with many Mental Health Services in the continuum of care provided for Mental Health clients in recovery. The gap exists largely in community based rehabilitation services that address the rehabilitation politics of inclusion and integration into society. This model has proven, over the past three years, that given the opportunity to participate in paid work, have control over their choices and movements they make on their journey towards integration and citizenship, clients stay well for longer periods and rely less on emergency services.
Description of the Cooperative
A new perspective on community based, vocational rehabilitation is alive and well in Penticton. The concept of developing a worker cooperative to assist our mental health clients to participate in paid employment opportunities is not a new idea. What makes this cooperative unique is that it is a multi-stakeholder cooperative where the membership is 70% client members and 30% supporters. The other unique aspect is that it is a “not for profit” cooperative meaning that all profits once payrolls and expenses are paid are directed back into the cooperative and not paid out to members as is the case in most corporations. This is not to be confused with a non profit society. The Penticton & Area Cooperative Enterprises (P.A.C.E.) is a business and is out there to make profit!
Presently PACE has a number of divisions or shall we say Consumer Run Businesses that operate under the mandate of the cooperative. These businesses each have their own “Worker Pool”. They meet once a week and make decisions about how they run their business. The motions made at these meetings give direction to the service providers working under PACE such as the operations manager, bookkeepers and front end staff and it gives the workers a strong sense of ownership. The cooperative model is effective as a Rehabilitation vehicle for Mental Health clients who often struggle with developing a strong sense of self, belonging and just feeling like they are contributing to community. The prospect and reality of earning extra money every month has also contributed to clients having a better quality of life and are looking forward to the future with hope.