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Tyee Poll: What percentage of Canadians are members of at least one co-op?

The UN declared 2012 the International Year of the Co-op, and in January 2013 the International Co-operative Alliance released its Blueprint for a Co-operative Decade. In the wake of the 2008 global financial collapse, it lays out a framework for co-ops to become the fastest growing form of enterprise by 2020.

Every year in the middle of October, Canadian co-ops from all different sectors celebrate Co-op Week. How much do you know about the co-op sector in Canada?

CORRECT ANSWER: 40% of Canadians are members of at least one co-op.

In Quebec, the percentage rises to about 70 per cent and in Saskatchewan it's 56 per cent. Thirty-three per cent of Canadians are members of credit unions, the highest per capita rate in the world.

Source: Canadian Co-operative Association

Want to keep geeking out with more co-op facts?

  • There are approximately 9,000 co-ops in Canada, including credit unions. They directly employ around 150,000 people, and provide products and services to over 18 million. Collectively, Canadian co-ops hold over $370 billion in assets, owned by their members and the communities they serve. Check out Canadian Co-operative Association for more.
  • Worldwide, it is estimated that the co-op movement brings together over one billion people. In 1994, the UN estimated that the lives of over 3 billion people were made secure by co-operatives.
  • In terms of membership, the United States leads the way with 305.6 million members of over 30,000 co-ops. China is next with 160.8 million individual members, then India with 97.6 million individual members.
  • There are many types of co-ops: financial services such as credit unions; consumer co-ops like outdoor gear retailer MEC, carsharing service Modo, or community grocery stores; producer co-ops (see below); non-profit community services co-ops; housing co-ops and more.

Did you know that these well-known brands and organizations are part of the co-op community?

Real Madrid, FC Barcelona, FC United of Manchester and the Green Bay Packers. These are just a small sample of thousands of amateur and professional sports team worldwide that are owned partially or entirely by fans. In fact, soccer clubs in Sweden and Turkey are prohibited from any ownership structure other than fan-based!

Sunkist, Oceanspray, iögo Yogurt, Organic Meadow. All are brands owned by producer co-ops (citrus farmers, cranberry farmers, and dairy farmers).

Pharmasave, Home Hardware, and Best Western. Each outlet is an independently-run entrepreneurial business that can be responsive to its own community, but is a voting member of a larger co-op that provides services like wholesaling, marketing, online booking technology and more.