On Monday, the Conservative Government quietly tabled the final report on this summer’s committee hearing into Co-operatives – a fitting end, given the apathy the Harper government has shown towards this vital economic sector.
“It is pretty shameful how the Conservatives have treated Canada’s Co-operatives,” said NDP Industry Critic Hélène LeBlanc (LaSalle—Émard). “The cancelling of the Co-operative Development Initiative and the scaling back of the Co-operatives Secretariat signals that the Conservatives are not interested in the long term success of this sector. And this in the UN International Year of Co-operatives!”
The government’s recommendations found in the final report fail to address the concerns of the co-operative sector. This prompted the NDP to write a dissenting report, with 6 concrete recommendations, including a call on the government to reverse the cuts to federal co-op programs and to establish a closer working relationship with the sector to cut red tape and build a strong future for Canada’s co-ops.
“The cooperative sector is huge in the agricultural sector and in rural Canada; it adds a stable economic environment which is needed in these turbulent times,” said NDP Agriculture critic, Malcolm Allen (Welland). “Not only are the Conservatives ignoring this vital sector, but in doing so they are once again showing apathy to rural Canadians.”
Canada’s Co-operatives are an amazing success story with over 9000 co-ops, some 18 million co-op members, 155,000 employees, and assets totaling over $330 billion They are active in many sectors of the economy including finance (insurance and credit unions), retail, housing, health care, agriculture, and food production.