The Co-operative Difference in Canada

Research results from a community-university research alliance.

This is the Co-operative Difference


In February 2010, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) awarded $1 million towards a new suite of research projects about Canada’s co-operative sector.

Led by the Canadian Co-operative Association in partnership with four Canadian universities, the research network was funded to conduct research on the social, economic and environmental impacts of co-operatives on Canadians and their communities. The project was live from 2010 until 2015.

The results are in. With 20+ research projects complete and dozens of webinars available, we have an impressive showcase of the ways in which co-operatives enrich the lives of Canadians.  Highlights include:

  • Housing co-operatives allow for more meaningful resident involvement in the management of their living space, and in turn this involvement helps residents build hard skills, self confidence and social capital;
  • Community-owned renewable energy projects help maximize the benefits that communities can reap from investment in renewables, and also improve community buy-in;
  • In our Economic Impact Study, co-operatives created jobs at nearly 5 times the rate of the overall economy.

You can find more about these projects and many others by browsing our Research by Sector and Impacts of Co-operatives menus above.

Another key output of this research network is a series of impact measurement tools that researchers can use to develop even greater knowledge on the sector. You can find out more about these tools and their applications here.