Update from All-Party Caucus on Co-operatives

*compliments of the Honourable Mauril Bélanger, M.P. for Ottawa–Vanier

The All-Party Caucus on Co-operatives held its 6th meeting on Wednesday, February 25, 2015, under the theme “BDC’s activities in support of co-operatives across Canada and an exchange surrounding the current state of co-operatives in Canada, focusing on their challenges and needs.”

My colleague Joe Preston, M.P. for Elgin–Middlesex–London, chaired the meeting and welcomed the following guests from the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC): Mr. Michel Bergeron, Senior Vice President, Marketing and Public Affairs, and Ms. Maggy Tawil, National Director, Corporate Relations. Parliamentarians from all three recognized parties attended. Several Co-operatives and Mutuals Canada (CMC) employees, along with BDC employees, were also in attendance. This caucus was originally scheduled to meet on October 22, 2014, but because of the attacks that day at the National War Memorial and on Parliament Hill, it was re-scheduled to a later date.

BDC is a Crown corporation whose purpose is to “support Canadian entrepreneurship by providing financial and management services and by issuing securities or otherwise raising funds or capital in support of those services.” Source: Business Development Bank of Canada Act

Last fall the Business Development Bank of Canada Act was amended to clarify which services BDC is authorized to provide. The changes also extended confidentiality provisions in the Act to any subsidiary of BDC and made amendments in relation to its governance. For example, the new legislation allows the BDC to extend credit to, provide liquidity to, conduct research for, and provide management services to a person, as prescribed by forthcoming regulations. This change was in response to the BDC’s most recent legislative review, published in June 2014. As the regulations have not yet been published, the impact of these proposed changes on the services that the BDC may provide to credit unions and cooperatives is unclear.

Mr. Michel Bergeron told members that the BDC currently has 41 co-operative clients, which represents 3% of the market—not a huge amount. He also acknowledged that the co-operative market is not one that the BDC actively pursues. I firmly believe the BDC can do more to help co-operatives with capitalization. One positive point is that the BDC committed to improve its knowledge of the co-op sector and increase the amount of business it does with co-operatives.

One straightforward and tangible outcome from our meeting was that Mr. Bergeron accepted my suggestion that the BDC meet with CMC to discuss the possibility of partnering with the proposed National Investment Fund currently planned by the co-op community.

I am also glad to see that the BDC is taking the critical and sensitive issue of succession planning seriously, which is a reality for so many family businesses in multiple parts of the country. I mentioned that the Coopérative de développement regional (CDR) – Acadie (which brings together New Brunswick’s French-language co-operative associations to promote and support collective entrepreneurship and the co-operative formula) is addressing succession planning through its activities and has developed a handbook for owner-operators with the financial support of several partners. It will soon be posted on CDR-Acadie’s website at http://mauril.us8.list-manage.com/track/click?u=b41718098e627e170c31ea981&id=0d567d1dab&e=e33e7b6fd6. I am told that an English version is available from the agency on request. I believe that the co-operative formula provides a sound solution to the challenge of succession planning and I voiced that belief during our caucus meeting.

Our plan moving forward is to organize three other meetings of the All-Party Caucus on Co-operatives before the end of the parliamentary session.





Honourable Mauril Bélanger, M.P. for Ottawa–Vanier Liberal Advocate for Co-operatives

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