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Why A Co-operative?

Why A Co-operative?

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 include housing, consumer, credit unions, funeral co-operatives, and many other types of co-operatives.  Large co-operatives include the Desjardins Group, Mountain Equipment Co-op, and Co-op stores.  

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 use its services.  It is not necessary to be a member to take advantage of our 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 has many thousands of members and 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.  It is not necessary to become a member to take advantage of our services. 

What is the Funeral Co-operative of Ottawa, and how is it different from other funeral homes?

The Funeral Co-operative of Ottawa is an independent, community-owned and operated funeral home. We are dedicated to ensuring that all funeral arrangements are offered on a not-for-profit basis to benefit our members and maintain the highest quality of service.

Led by our licensed funeral director, our team is committed to providing compassionate and professional service that will commemorate the passing of loved ones with dignity and in the manner of their choosing. 

(Please also see our FAQ page to learn more about us)

What is a Co-operative?

Put simply, a co-operative is an organization that uses the strength of its members to pursue a common goal.  Co-operatives the world over have adopted seven principles that distinguish them from other businesses and organizations: 

1. Voluntary and Open Membership

Co-operatives are voluntary organisations, open to all persons who wish to use their services and are willing to accept the responsibilities of membership, without regard to gender, social, racial, political or religious affiliation. 

2. Democratic Member Control

Co-operatives are democratic organisations controlled by their members, who actively participate in setting their policies and making decisions. Members serving as elected representatives are accountable to the membership. In primary co-operatives, members have equal voting rights ("one member, one vote") and co-operatives at other levels are also organised in a democratic manner.

3. Member Economic Participation

Members contribute equitably to, and democratically control, the capital of their co-operative.  

4. Autonomy and Independence

Co-operatives are autonomous, self-help organisations controlled by their members. If they enter into agreements with other organisations, including governments, or raise capital from external sources, they do so on terms that ensure democratic control by their members and maintain their co-operative autonomy.

5. Education, Training and Information

Co-operatives provide education and training for their members, elected representatives, managers, and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their co-operatives. They inform the general public - particularly young people and opinion leaders - about the nature and benefits of co-operation.

 6. Co-operation among Co-operatives

Co-operatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the co-operative movement by working together through local, national, regional and international structures.

7. Concern for Community

Co-operatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies approved by their members. 

The Canadian Co-operative Movement 

Canada has a one of the most successful co-operative 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, the Caisse Populaire, in Levis, Quebec in 1900. Today the network of caisses populaires is the largest business in the financial industry in Quebec.   

Agricultural co-operatives 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 the oppression by mining and steel companies that often owned worker's housing and food stores. 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 businesses 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.