Co-ops Provide Services from ‘Cradle to Grave’

Co-ops Provide Services from ‘Cradle to Grave’

Sector offers a different economic system, local capacity: Denyse Guy

During her adult life, Denyse Guy says she has been able to access services for all her basic needs through the co-operative sector.

The Ontario Co-operative Association executive director says the co-operative sector is large and strong in terms of financial assets, but also has the “cradle to grave” function in a lot of business sectors.

For example, you can attend a childcare co-op as a child, and as a last involvement with the sector use a funeral co-op.

Denyse says many people may not be aware of the size and scope of the co-operative sector.

In Canada, there are 18 million members, 9,000 co-operatives and (including credit unions) have an estimated $252 billion in assets. Internationally, co-operatives are in 90 countries, employ 100 million people and have one billion members.

She points to the social-media inspired Bank Transfer Day, a call for consumers to switch from for-profit banks to not-for-profit credit unions before Nov. 5.

According a Nov. 3 press release from the Credit Union National Association, an estimated 650,000 consumers in the U.S. joined credit unions since Sept. 29.

Denyse says the largely American-focused Bank Transfer Day did see some media come into Canada and positively affect the Canadian credit union system.

“There are lots of disenfranchised individuals who want to see a different economic system and certainly the co-operative sector can provide for that,” says Denyse.

The Occupy movements show there are a lot of disenfranchised youth, she says, and for many people it becomes a way of getting involved in democratic processes and having values that can be followed through the international co-operative principles.

“You basically can get your goods and services this way and it builds capacity at the local level, which is what we need to look at in terms of the influences of globalization,” she notes.

The co-operative sector has been very innovative historically, says Denyse. For example, ATM services were developed by the credit union system.

“When market economies fail or they don’t necessarily fulfil the needs of the populations, then co-ops emerge,” she says.

Denyse is taking on a new role as the Canadian Co-operative Association executive director as of Jan. 2, 2012, which is also the International Year of Co-operatives.

Visit to learn more.

Related Story:
Anticipating the International Year of Co-operatives

If you have feedback on this article, please contact the newsroom at 800-294-0051, or e-mail Jennifer(at)


Great article!  Just a heads up though, the launch date for IYC in Canada is January 12th.

Writer Bio

Jennifer Neutel's picture
Jennifer Neutel

Jennifer Neutel is a Story Advocate and Generative Journalist at Axiom News. She completed her Bachelor of Journalism at Carleton University in Ottawa in 2006, and joined Axiom News in 2007. She has taken on a variety of roles at Axiom including new social media intiatives and has a passion for creating strengths-based questions that can lead to positive change.

Contact Jennifer:, or 705-741-4421 ext. 26.

Reprint This Story

Axiom News content is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. Stories may be reprinted in their entirety with permission and when appropriately credited.

Please contact Axiom News at
1-800-294-0051 for more information.