The Co-operative Difference in Canada

Research results from a community-university research alliance

This is the Co-operative Difference


In 2010, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) awarded $1 million towards a 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.

Here’s a sampling of research findings:

Compared to for-profit developments, housing co-operatives promote increased social interactions and allow residents more meaningful involvement in the management of their living space.

Being involved helps residents build financial skills, self-confidence and social capital.


windmillCompared to private-sector developments, community-owned renewable energy projects tend to bring more direct benefits to communities, such as provision of long-term jobs and development of local skills and knowledge.

Community-owned projects also tend to meet with less local resistance.


jobsIn our Economic Impact Study, co-operatives created jobs at nearly 5 times the rate of the overall economy.

Co-operatives generated nearly $33 billion in household income for Canadians in the study year.


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


toolThe Network also developed a series of co-op impact measurement tools. These tools are designed for use by both researchers and co-operatives.

You can find out more about the tools and their applications here.