Key conferences scheduled in Quebec about worker cooperation

From October 11th to 15th 2011 two key conferences will be held in Quebec. The first conference titled ‘Business Succession and Employee Ownership Conference’ will take place from the 11th to 13th of October. The second one named ‘CICOPA North America Conference: Cooperation without Borders’ will be from the 13th to 15th of October.

11 June 2011

by Hazel Corcoran, CWCF

The objective of the first conference is to raise awareness of worker cooperatives as an alternative for businesses without successors and to develop the expertise of stakeholders through the exchange and analysis of their experience. In the coming years the world is facing a very significant phenomenon, and one with major socio-economic consequences: the mass exodus to retirement by business owners from the so-called "baby boomer" generation. It is estimated that about 200,000 Canadian businesses will change hands in the next fifteen years. The phenomenon will be proportionately comparable in the U.S., Europe and elsewhere.

The exceptional scale of this transition may cause the loss of many enterprises for lack of buyers, or for being sold to competitors. A recent study by the Quebec Department of Economic Development, Innovation and Exports (MDEIE) has shown that although the phenomenon is already under way, we are currently witnessing only its very earliest beginnings and that departures should reach their peak between 2017 and 2020 and that, when we are approaching this peak in 4 to 5 years’ time, there will no longer be sufficient individuals willing to purchase these companies. This phenomenon of a missing next generation of individual entrepreneurs should also manifest itself much earlier in rural areas. The social and economic risk is substantial and many companies risk closure; as a result tens of thousands of jobs could disappear, whole villages and communities could go into decline.

Faced with this threat of business disintegration and accompanying massive job losses, the alternative to transfer these companies to their employees through the worker cooperative model appears increasingly to be the ideal solution and a tremendous opportunity for the worker cooperative movement to grow. The worker cooperative model (along with related models like multi-stakeholder cooperatives) helps to maintain and develop these enterprises, and helps workers maintain local control over their future.

The second conference, “Co-operation without Borders", has the objectives to provide a venue for the worker cooperative movements in Quebec, the rest of Canada and the United States to come together and share experiences. The organization of this Conference is a historic event. For the first time, hundreds of members of worker cooperatives from across North America will meet and share their experiences together to improve their governance practices and democratic management of their businesses, and to demonstrate together their solidarity and common will to build a caring economy based on ownership and control of enterprises by workers. The Conference is being organized by CWCF with support from ’le Réseau de la coopération du travail du Québec’, the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives and other partners.

For more information:

Member of the Canadian delivery business Shift Delivery Co-op

International Organisation of Industrial, Artisanal and
Service Producers' Cooperatives

Secretariat: C/O European Cooperative House - avenue Milcamps 105
1030 Brussels, Belgium
Tel: +32 2 543 1033, fax: +32 2 543 1037
E-mail: cicopa[at]

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