Co-op Committee gets answer

The Conservative government responded to the September 2012 report of the House of Commons Special Committee on Cooperatives on Monday, January 28. The Special Committee had recommended that the Government of Canada,
1. highlight the strategic role that cooperatives play in our economy by educating government employees in all departments, especially those in regional development offices, and the general public on the nature and benefits of the cooperative business model.
The Government agrees with the Committee’s recommendation to highlight the strategic role co-operatives play in the Canadian economy by educating government employees and the Canadian public on the nature and benefits of the co-operative business model. . . The Government will continue to highlight the strategic role that co-operatives play in the economy and provide focused policy and research expertise on the nature and benefits of co-operative businesses to government employees and the Canadian public.
2. explore the feasibility and cost of allowing Canadians flexibility to invest RRSP funds in cooperatives.
The Government acknowledges the Committee’s recommendation to further explore the feasibility and cost of allowing Canadians flexibility to invest Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) funds in co-operatives.
3. work closely with regional economic development agencies to highlight the importance of cooperatives to Canadian economic development so that they can promote the cooperative business model along with other business models, and to ensure their officers have a clear understanding of how co-operatives are supported through existing federal programs and can promote such programs to cooperatives and entrepreneurs.In Kangiqsualujjuaq1 255X307
The Government agrees with the Committee’s recommendation that it is important to work closely across departments and agencies in order to highlight the importance of co-operatives in Canadian economic development. . . The Government invests in the development of co-operatives across Canada through regionally­ based and national programs. Given the important role that co-operatives play in economic growth, the Government will continue to work with and support co-operatives to further economic development in Canada.
4. review the issue of capitalization of cooperatives, including its causes, effects, and potential solutions.
The Government understands that capitalization is a significant issue for co-operative businesses. Co-operatives’ unique common ownership, control and capital structures and their emphasis on return on use for their members, rather than return on investment, provides reduced incentive for venture capital and other forms of traditional financing. . . The Government will continue to collaborate with financial institutions, the provinces and territories and other key stakeholders, working together to offer a range of business financing and capitalization programs to co-operatives.
5. in consultation with provinces, territories, and the cooperative sector, review the Canada Cooperatives Act to determine whether updates are advisable.
The Government continuously examines all of its marketplace framework laws, including the CCA, to ensure they are up to date and effective.
6. study the possibility of consolidating responsibility for cooperatives under a suitable department, such as Industry Canada.
The Government agrees . . . and it was decided to transfer Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s co-operative policy and sector support functions to IC.
7. continue to reduce the red tape burden for cooperatives and businesses.
The Government agrees with the Committee’s recommendation to continue to reduce the red tape burden for co-operatives and businesses.
Also “that Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation support housing co-operatives by continuing to provide reasonable mortgage and refinancing services.” This was an issue raising howls from the co-op housing community last summer when the Special Committee was holding hearings. CMHC was stiff-arming co-ops that wanted to refinance their developments by finding new mortgages and paying off the old. CMHC was making sherlockian demands for interest on mortgage prepayments, so-much-so that all such deals were stalled.
In order to further assist co-operative and non-profit housing projects who want to refinance their mortgages to undertake the replacement or repair of major capital building components, CMHC will offer a discounted prepayment penalty . . . consistent with industry practices and available for projects that meet eligibility criteria.
My opinion remains where I parked it in this post. To summarize, a much better start was made in March 2010 at a two-day forum organized by the Co-operatives Secretariat (yes the same that got chopped in the last federal budget and is now being transferred, already much slimmer from the chop, to Industry). Meant to be “the first in a series of dialogues to provide an opportunity for input and suggestions towards shaping the Government of Canada’s policy contributions to the overall environment in which co-operatives develop and grow,” it was never heard from again. But the report of these discussions survives even though the government has done its best to hide it from view (click here, click again, hit Publications and select Public Policy Forum on Co-operatives at the top of the list).