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In association with Cooperatives and Mutuals Canada, the Institute of Research and Education for Cooperatives and Mutuals of the University of Sherbrooke (IRECUS) and the International Center for Cooperative Management of Saint Mary's University, are proud to present the survey results that highlight the impact of COVID-19 on Canadian cooperatives and mutuals during the first 18 months of the global pandemic.

To conduct this study, a questionnaire, based on a literature review, was created and then sent to cooperatives across Canada. The researchers received over 190 responses. This report includes a sampling of 192 cooperatives and mutuals.


Key impacts on Canadian cooperatives and mutuals

  • Despite a precarious economy caused by the pandemic, Canadian cooperatives have reported overall stability within their organization, in terms of the number of members and employees, the products and services offered as well as their debt.

  • While almost half of study respondents reported an increase in demand for their products and services over the past 18 months, 39% saw their revenue decline. A majority of respondents in this percentage came from the arts, entertainment and recreation, health care and social assistance, or manufacturing industries.

  • 68% of study respondents said they had enough reserves to help their organization survive the pandemic.

  • 67% of respondents indicated having received government funding (both federal and provincial) during the pandemic.

  • Among respondents who had not used government funding, 42% said they did not need it, while 28% said their organizations were not eligible for these programs.

  • A majority of respondents said their priorities were staying in business, ensuring the well-being of their employees and meeting the needs of their members. Just over a third of study respondents indicate that their organizations have provided support to their local community, cooperatives and other types of organizations.

  • Over the past 18 months, cooperatives and mutuals have focused on maintaining the engagement of their members through virtual meetings, keeping them continuously informed about their situation and consulting them for urgent decisions. In addition, they also provided them with the possibility of conducting online conferences and training.


The importance of government support and public policies

The creation of public policies and support programs associated with COVID-19 has helped Canadian cooperatives and mutuals during this uncertain period. Indeed, cooperatives and mutuals are not self-sufficient. Strong and organized networks are also necessary to ensure the long-term sustainability of the cooperative movement. To this end, the role of cooperative associations and federations has been central in helping cooperatives receive the necessary support during this pandemic. They not only informed them of the changing environment, but also provided them with strong representation before the provincial and federal governments. This presence has allowed cooperatives and mutuals to have a prominent place in discussions concerning the Canadian economic recovery.



Studies will need to be carried out in the coming years to truly understand the long-term impact of the pandemic on Canadian cooperatives and mutuals. At this time, it is difficult to determine how much the last few months have affected the sector. The researchers will continue their research and hope to obtain conclusive results when they publish an additional phase of this study towards the end of 2022.

Would you like to learn more about the impact of COVID-19 on cooperatives and mutuals? Downloadthe complete study or our infographic now!

For more information


Claude-André Guillotte, IRECUS, University of Sherbrooke:

Sonja Novkovic, ICCM, Saint Mary's University:

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