The form of cooperative membership is becoming increasingly popular in many areas. In all regions of Quebec, regional development co-operatives are present and that of the Eastern Townships is particularly active. Its president, January Cliche, explains why.
There are cooperatives of savings and credit, agriculture, forestry, power, art, insurance, educational co-ops, leisure, home and of consumer services, child care services and same of funeral cooperatives. Regional development (CDR), for their part, unions represent the essential tool that allows all the other to exist.
The first CDR was born in Ottawa in 1973 and in the Eastern Townships, Québec-Appalaches and Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean from 1984 to 1985. As early as 1980, the project set in motion, and in 1983 that a $ 15,000 grant to start. Since then and until today, the Estrie CDR has always managed to be recognized by the Government of Quebec as the only interlocutor for the cooperative development of the region. This recognition helped the CDR Estrie to obtain financing and thus fulfil its mandates together, accompany and support cooperatives and promote it. Today, the network consists of 11 CDR and covers the whole of the territory of Quebec.
“Initially, there was the great period of co-ops of consumers whose credit unions.” Today, we are more in solidarity co-ops that are in emerging sectors, such as public procurement, renewable energy sources, including biomass and forestry co-ops are very present in this area. Also much sees health and work co-ops that provide services. “These are young people who choose this formula,” says January snapshot.
Co-ops of services in the field of health are numerous in the Eastern Townships. And it is here that we find the first coop of in-home services. There is also a co-op for the rehabilitation of people with a multidependances. Meanwhile, the active health coop focuses on services for seniors to get back into good shape. It brings together specialists in physiotherapy and signs agreements with residences for the elderly.
Thousands of jobs
Next proximity services co-ops: “With the devitalization of several rural, many co-ops of solidarity are emerging.” Talking about Saint-Roman, who has taken over the management of a convenience store and a gas station, which had completely disappeared. “There is also Saint-Étienne-de-Bolton, where it opened a coffee meeting, which is part of the network of Cafes of village of the Cantons – de – East”, explains the president of the COR in the Eastern Townships.
L’Estrie represents 4% of the Quebec territory with barely 300 000 inhabitants, making it the smallest of the regions. Yet it is here that there are more than 170 cooperatives. “From 2002 to 2011, so over the past 10 years, was created 117 new co-operatives.” “Among them we see 50 in Sherbrooke and all others are spread over the whole of the territory”, said January snapshot. For the region, co-operatives represent 2269 jobs, and that’s not counting the financial cooperatives which belong the Caisses Desjardins, which employ more than 1,800 people. These are therefore more than 4,000 jobs that ensure some weight to the region.
“Craze that are known from the past five years, with 15 new co-ops by year, is explained by word-of-mouth that operates through existing co-ops and co-op gala also every two years”, added Mr. Cliche. Thus, the funeral cooperative and co-ops of habitation in the Eastern Townships are very present in the territory and make their own communication. The Coop fédérée, with shops Unimat, is very active on the regional scene. And Mr. Cliche said us laughingly: “in the territory, the cooperative presence, it appears!
If the type of democratic management induced by the cooperative mode appeals to young people, it is primarily because they hear much talk in the Eastern Townships by through the Institute of research and education for cooperatives and mutuals of the Université de Sherbrooke (IRECUS): “It is the forerunner in the field.” This is IRECUS that allowed the network to grow. Here, the employees were studied as well as the Mayor of Sherbrooke. This is an essential factor. »
January snapshot in Quebec City will be in October, when the regions Forum, the international Summit of cooperatives. What can we expect from such events? “My perception is that in the co-operative movement, we are at a turning point.” Studies show; where economies have best stood in crises that it comes across, this is where there was a greater diversity of types of business present on the territory. Quebec is no exception, he has well withstood the crisis of 2008 and one of the factors, it is the presence of cooperatives. »