Report highlights economic impact of Canadian co-operatives and mutuals

The sector contributed CA$49.2bn to the country’s GDP in 2019, and provides 592,000 full-time jobs

Co-operatives and Mutuals Canada has released its annual Economic Impact Report, which shows that co-ops and mutuals contributed 2.5% or CA$49.2bn to the country’s GDP in 2019.

The sector also paid $10.4bn in taxes to the federal government, the figures – based on 2019 data – reveal.

According to the report, Canada was home to 6,365 co-operatives in 2019, 45% of which were in the province of Quebec.

Over 174,000 people have full-time or full-time equivalent employment in co-operatives with salaries totalling over $6.8bn.

When accounting for the indirect job creation, the co-operative sector expands to 592,000 people in full-time equivalent jobs providing $28.3bn in household income. 

The majority of full-time equivalent jobs within the co-operative movement are in the financial and insurance sector (40%), with retail trade at 35%, construction and manufacturing at 10%, and healthcare and social assistance with 6%.

The report also found that non-financial co-ope make up the majority of the national sector, with more employees and four times the revenue of credit unions, caisses populaires (financial co-operatives) and mutuals. But credit unions and caisses, by their nature, have much higher assets and pay more in taxes than non-financial co-ops. They employ approximately one third of the co-op workforce, the report adds, and provide two thirds of the total salary dollars total for the sector.

Quebec comes top in terms of new co-operative incorporations, accounting for 47% of co-op start-ups over the ten-year period between 2009 and 2019. The province is followed by Ontario, British Columbia, Nova Scotia, Alberta, Manitoba and New Brunswick. The report attributes this finding to the support measures in place for co-operative development in Quebec as well as the number of inhabitants per province, two factors that impact the start-up of new co-operatives.

The majority of co-ops are found in the housing sector (43%), followed by with health care and social assistance cooperatives (14%), service and public administration co-operatives (9%), financial and insurance co-operatives and mutual (8%), retail and wholesale (7%) and construction and manufacturing (6%).

Highlighting the report’s findings, Co-operatives and Mutuals Canada emphasised that “co-operatives and mutuals positively impact the Canadian economy by being strong employers in a multitude of different industries operated from coast to coast to coast.”