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Cooperative model: Making a real difference

September 5, 2022

This year we’re celebrating Co-op Week from October 16 to 22. To help local cooperatives shine, we are featuring a few testimonials and concrete results that show that the cooperative model is more relevant than ever and is making a positive contribution to the well-being of its members and the development of our communities.

When you think of the cooperative model, the name “Desjardins” may come to mind, since this financial cooperative is part of Quebecers’ DNA. Cooperatives operate in a variety of areas, including education, health and housing. By promoting the values of mutual support, equity, sharing and equality, they help build a prosperous, supportive and sustainable future.

Home ownership, fellowship, support and so much more!

In the early 1970s, the first rental housing cooperatives were created in downtown Sherbrooke. Today, the Fédération des coopératives d’habitation de l’Estrie (French lonly) has 52 cooperatives in charge of managing more than 1,800 units.

Housing cooperatives are buildings where members who live in them both rent their unit and collectively own the building. Together, they ensure complete, independent management of their building.

Guillaume Brien

Executive Director, Fédération des coopératives d’habitation de l’Estrie

“In housing cooperatives, responsibility, commitment and management are something to get excited about! It’s great because it has a direct impact on the living environment. Diversity, fellowship and mutual support are formed naturally, which isn’t seen anywhere else,” Mr. Brien explained.

The Fédération des coopératives d’habitation de l’Estrie gives its members access to less expensive housing than what is available on the market.

“The housing cooperative model is based on the different strengths of the people who live there. The more they get involved internally by sharing the maintenance of their building, the lower the cooperative’s operating costs. For instance, if you shovel snow in the winter, the cooperative doesn’t have to pay someone to do it, so more money stays in the members’ pockets.”

“The cooperative also promotes the pooling of various essential items. A 24-unit building doesn’t need 24 lawnmowers! Everyone can benefit from just one lawnmower, the cost of which is shared by all the members. To sum up, the 1,300 housing cooperatives that are currently found across Quebec provide a different living environment, based on mutual support and equity, at a more accessible price,” Mr. Brien concludes.

The strength of a tight-knit community

Did you know that the world’s largest cooperative in the video game industry is found in Quebec? La Guilde du jeu vidéo du Québec has over 300 members, including independent and international video game studios, educational institutions and related businesses.

We’re a tight-knit community where major players support smaller players to share their knowledge, pay it forward and promote the industry.

Émilien Roscanu

Director of Communications, La Guilde du jeu vidéo

“Here is an example: Early on in the pandemic when there was uncertainty at video game studios, one of our largest corporate members paid the annual membership fees of all the members,” Mr. Roscanu said.

This cooperative is increasing the number of meetings, after-work get-togethers, contests and training for mutual support within the community. “I’m thinking, for instance, about La Caravane, a tour of Quebec video game studios that will be stopping in Shawinigan this year. It enables our members to network, discuss and follow training tailored to their specific situations. We also participate in economic missions abroad to showcase our unique expertise and know-how outside of our borders”.

“Experienced studios help those taking their first steps in the field by assisting them with developing and marketing their first video game. Creating a strong ecosystem impacts the entire industry, since everyone benefits from each individual success. That’s why Quebec is recognized as the world centre of the video game industry,” Mr. Roscanu stated.

La Coop santé Robert-Cliche: Working together for regional health!

In 2008, residents of Beauceville in the Chaudière-Appalaches region saw one doctor after another retiring.

The community and business owners came together to deal with the shortage of doctors that our region was facing. To attract young specialists, we had to provide them with a friendly, attractive location with state-of-the-art equipment where they could feel good practising family medicine. When the idea of creating a cooperative was proposed, everyone was on board!

Marie-Claude Vachon

Executive Director, La Coop santé Robert-Cliche

“In 2009, the first cooperative clinic was set up in Beauceville, and the power of attraction in the medical community was immediately felt,” Ms. Vachon noted.

Today, La Coop santé Robert-Cliche (French only) has 2 clinics in Beauceville and Saint-Joseph-de-Beauce. “We have 13 doctors, 2 super nurses (specialized nurse practitioners), 2 nurses and 2 social workers. The are several advantages to choosing a cooperative model. Since the cooperative handles the administrative tasks and management of the buildings and staff, the doctors can focus entirely on their patients.”

“In addition, our clinics have an excellent reputation in the region, so a number of specialists come to see us. For instance, Hôpital de Saint-Georges surgeons spend one day a week at the coop doing minor surgery. Seeing 20 to 25 patients at each visit helps unclog the healthcare system, so everyone wins!” Ms. Vachon added.

About Co-op Week

Every year, Desjardins takes advantage of this week to reiterate the importance of mutual support and the cooperative model to its members and clients. All over Quebec, Desjardins is proud to promote the various local cooperatives.