Co-ops contribute 3.4% to the Canadian economy

The analysis takes into account gross domestic product, numbers of jobs created in full-time equivalents, wages and taxes paid

The Canadian co-operative sector represents 3.4% of the national economy and 3.6% of the jobs, according to a new study quantifying the direct, indirect and induced economic impacts of co-ops and credit unions.

Using 2015 data, the economic impact analysis took into account the gross domestic product (GDP), numbers of jobs created in full-time equivalents, wages and taxes paid. The study only uses data from co-operatives that have submitted their annual survey to Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, a government department.

The research shows the value-added GDP impact of the co-operative sector in Canada is CA $61.2bn (£36.98bn) yearly and represents a growth of 12% since 2010. Furthermore, the sector injects $34.3bn (£20.72bn) into household income, which is a 4.6% increase from 2010. Around $13bn (£7.85bn) was paid in taxes to all orders of government, which has grown by 11.1% in five years. 

At the time the data was collected co-ops had 31.8 million members and 182,253 full-time equivalent employees, 2.4% more than in 2010. The sector included 5,730 co-operatives that reported in Canada, 5.9% less than in 2010. The volume of business of these co-ops and credit unions was $85.9bn (£51.9bn), a 20.9% growth from 2010 with assets of $503.2bn (£304.05bn), 42.5% more than in 2010.

The report also looks at specific sectors of the economy. In terms of financial co-ops, the number of credit unions declined by 25.9%, from 877 in 2010 to 650 in 2015, which the report attributed to the many mergers and amalgamations within the sector.

In the insurance sector there have been a number of demutualisations, especially in the mutual sector, thus resulting in lower reporting numbers of co-operative and mutual insurers, from 150 in 2010 to 120 in 2015 (-20%). Despite this, the sector continues to grow expansively with regards to volume of business (20.8%), assets (65.5%), and employees (18.5).

Similarly, the total number of non-financial co-operatives decreased from 5,065 to 4,960, while the volume of business increased by 59% over the 10-year period.

The study was led by Dr Fiona Duguid, principal researcher, Duguid Consulting, research fellow, Sobey School of Business – Saint Mary’s University, and adjunct professor, Shannon School of Business – Cape Breton University, in partnership with George Karaphillis, dean, Shannon School of Business – Cape Breton University.