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Vancity responds to the Federal Governments move to forge a new partnership

Op Editorial: Vancity responds to the federal government move to forge a new partnership

February 5, 2013

Vancity views the Government of Canada’s response to the Report of the House of Commons Special committee on Co-operatives: Status of Co-operatives in Canada, and their commitment to highlight the importance of co-operatives and enhance their status in Canada as a key step in the right direction . In its response to the recommendations provided to the Special Committee on Co-operatives, the government has formed a new partnership with the Canadian co-operative movement by transferring the federal responsibility of co-operatives from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, where it has been for more than 30 years to Industry Canada.

This new partnership will provided increased opportunities for co-operative enterprises to gain access to federal programs and funding, and lead to further growth and increased sustainability of co-operatives Canada wide. Legislative and regulatory responsibility for financial co-operatives, such as credit unions and mutual insurance companies will continue to remain with Finance Canada.

Vancity views the transfer of responsibility of co-ops to Industry Canada as a natural fit and one that is more strategically aligned for the diverse co-operative sector. Along with the Canadian Co-operative Association (CCA) and the Conseil canadien de la coopération et de la mutualité (CCCM), we believe this change provides a new opportunity to form strong, mutually beneficial partnerships between the sector and the Federal Government.

As Canada’s largest financial co-operative, Vancity is keenly aware of the broad and deep positive impact co-ops have on the local economy through job creation and economic growth, as well as the provision of much needed services to meet the basic needs of citizens. Co-ops help build stronger and healthier communities and we are committed to work with them and co-op sector organizations in our region, and across Canada, to help build networks for sharing ideas and resources.

It’s important to also acknowledge the federal government for the commitment they have made to continue to work with the provinces, territories and other stakeholders through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) to ensure Canadians have access to a range of affordable housing options, including co-operative housing. Specifically, we applaud the change to lending programs that will allow federally funded housing co-ops to pursue private financing for much needed renovations and capital upgrades. We see this as a major step forward because it allows housing co-ops to pursue first mortgages in partnership with credit unions, and preserve affordable housing for generations to come.

We are prepared and have already begun to act quickly to support housing co-ops as they seek refinancing options for their specific upgrades. For example, we are currently working together with Social Purpose Development Partners, which includes the Co-operative Housing Federation of BC (CHF BC), Terra Housing and the Vancity Community Foundation, and have already started working with co-op members to apply for loans through Vancity.

Our co-operative model is one of our greatest strengths and makes us fundamentally different from most other businesses. We exist for the sole benefit of our members and their communities and believe we can only prosper as individuals if we are connected to a healthy, sustainable community. That’s why we help members meet their financial goals in a way that also strengthens their community.