Co-operatives Matter – and Here’s Why

GUELPH, Ontario, March 15, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Ontario Co-operative Association (OCA) has released the latest data profiling the co-operative business sector in Ontario, and the numbers paint a significant portrait of the contribution co-operatives make to the social and economic fabric of the province.

The 2022 profile of the co-operative sector - based on the most recent data available from 2019 - reveals there are 1,181 co-operative businesses in operation in Ontario. This represents almost twenty percent of the total Canadian co-operative sector (6,301 co-operatives), and the second highest number of co-operatives in the country after Quebec (2,816 co-operatives). Ninety-three percent of Ontario co-operatives (1,104) are non-financial in nature, and the remaining seven percent (77) are financial businesses (i.e., credit unions and insurance co-operatives). Furthermore, 28 percent of businesses have a for-profit structure (332) and 72 percent are not-for-profit in nature (849).

“While strong, Ontario's co-operative sector has not grown in proportion to other provinces. The province counts for 40 percent of both population and GDP of Canada, yet its co-operative sector accounts for only twenty percent of the total number of co-operatives nationally,” says Erin Morgan, OCA’s Executive Director. “Much of this slow growth is attributed to the overall lack of public understanding of the co-operative model, as well as outdated regulations that makes investing in and developing new co-operatives a challenging process; the very two things we at OCA are working very hard to change.”

And yet, co-operative economic contributions are significant. The revenues of Ontario’s co-operative businesses equate to $7.8 billion, with combined assets of $76 billion. This means that eleven percent of the country’s total revenues are generated by Ontario co-operatives, and sixteen percent of the total assets. Non-financial co-operatives generate a higher revenue ($5B) than financial co-operatives ($2.9B), however, the latter own more than eleven times the number of assets ($70B) as compared to the non-financial sector ($6B).

Co-operatives also have a significant social impact, employing over nineteen thousand individuals (full-time), who earn a combined $891M in annual income. Moreover, and contrary to what many know, the products and services they provide are diverse in nature and span many industries, from housing (43% of the Ontario co-operative sector), to health care and social assistance (14%), to finance and insurance (8%), retail and wholesale (7%), construction and manufacturing (6%), Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing, Mining and Gas Extraction (2%), and transportation and warehousing (1%).

“Ontario's co-operatives are an important part of the social and economic fabric of the province and play a key role in building a more sustainable economy with a focus on people, planet and profit,” notes Morgan. “The very notion of co-operation creates opportunities for innovation, pooling the minds of ‘many’ to help address and solve challenges within our communities, while also focusing on equity and inclusion. Co-operation as a way of life makes sense, and co-operative businesses have this value at their core.”

The OCA will be using the recent data to inform candidates of the upcoming provincial election of the strength and importance of Ontario’s co-operative sector, while advocating for increased awareness and continued support to create a more favourable legislative environment for the development of co-operative businesses.


Contact Erin Morgan 1.888.745.5521 x or at

View the “The Co-operative Sector in Ontario (2019)” Report. View the infographic.

ABOUT THE ONTARIO CO-OPERATIVE ASSOCIATION (OCA): Co-operatives are a different kind of business model that are driven by people, planet and profit. Our mission is to develop, support, educate, advocate and catalyze collaboration between co-operative businesses. Our vision is an Ontario where co-operatives and credit unions contribute to the sustainable growth and development of our communities. Co-operatives, together, building a better world. Visit us at for more information.