The Co-op Difference
Co-operatives are alternative business models, governed on the principle of one member, one vote. Co-operatives include non-profit community and business organizations that are owned and democratically managed by the people who use their services.
Types of co-operatives might include housing, consumer, credit unions and funeral co-operatives.
A funeral co-operative, like the Funeral Co-operative of Ottawa, is a community initiative aimed at providing its members with compassionate, high quality funeral arrangements on a not-for-profit basis. It is owned and operated by its members and does not exist to make profits, but to meet the needs of bereaved families whatever their funeral budget may be. The co-operative model is a guarantee of the quality of services and commitment to people who make use of its services. It is not necessary to be a member to take advantage of services.
Funeral co-operatives are not a new idea. One of the oldest funeral co-ops in Canada was founded in Sudbury, Ontario in 1952. Funeral co-operatives are very well established in Quebec and Prince Edward Island. The not-for-profit approach has changed the cost of funerals in Canada.
La Coopérative funéraire de l'Outaouais (CFO) was established in Gatineau in 1979 with 1,000 members. Today the co-operative handles 75% of all funerals in the Outaouais region. It will take some time for the Funeral Co-operative Ottawa (FCO) to grow but we are inspired by the Outaouais success.
All of our funeral arrangements are priced on a not-for-profit basis. There is no pressure on you or your family to spend extravagantly. The choice is always yours.
Members receive a 10% reduction in the cost of services and are able to participate in the development of the co-operative by attending member meetings and voting at the Annual General Meeting should they wish to. The degree of involvement is up to you. Member suggestions and questions are always welcome.
The Canadian Co-operative Movement
Canada has a one of the most successful co-op movements in the world. Some co-operatives date back over 100 years. Today there are 9,000 co-ops across the country that employ 155,000 people. All co-operatives share the same values that include equity, honesty, self-help, social responsibility and caring for others. In decision-making each member has one vote. Co-operatives exist to maximize services to their members and not to maximize returns to shareholders.
The Canadian co-operative movement was founded by Alphonse Desjardins. He created the first banking co-operative, Caisse Populaire, in Levis, Quebec in 1900. Today the network of caisses populaires is the largest financial business in Quebec.
Agricultural co-ops flourished in the 1920s, particularly the Wheat Pools in the Prairie Provinces as well as farmer owned co-ops in the dairy and poultry sectors. Prior to this, grain growing farmers were exploited by large privately owned grain merchants. Farmers formed their own co-ops to challenge this monopoly.
In the 1930s the Antigonish movement in Nova Scotia thrived as people came together to discuss their oppression by mining and steel companies that often owned both their housing and their food stores. From those beginnings, co-operatives were founded to successfully challenge these companies and bring dignity and control to the dependent communities.
The National Housing Act was amended in 1973 to make housing co-operatives eligible to receive public funding and over 2,000 housing co-ops were built across the country over the next 30 years.
Insurance co-operatives have a long history that began with hail insurance to protect crop investment. Today co-operative companies provide a complete range of insurance products.
Retail co-operatives have been particularly successful in the Atlantic and Prairie provinces. Their roots are in small communities that could not access affordable food. Today they have grown to the extent that one retail co-op in western Canada owns an oil refinery. Nationally, Mountain Equipment Co-op is approaching 4 million members.
The Funeral Co-operative of Ottawa is proud to be part of the Canadian co-op community.