Journal article

Growing New Brunswick from the ground up: The policy context for co-operatives in New Brunswick

Community participation Canada

This research explores the relationship between co-operatives in New Brunswick, as community-owned, local enterprises and government policies and programs. Through a review including academic, government and co-operative sector literature, a policy scan, and interviews with both representatives from the co-operative sector (n=12) as well as government (n=2), this thesis reveals opportunities to better support New Brunswick co-operatives. These recommendations include opening programs for business development to be accessible to co-operatives (educating staff as well as creating program guidelines conducive to co-operatives) as well as updating legislation that is more than 30 years old in order to reflect the current economic climate in the province. Through developing a more favorable policy environment in New Brunswick, citizens can become involved in developing their own communities through jointly-owned enterprises. The social as well as economic activities of cooperatives can help serve policy goals as well, such as employment creation, self-sufficiency, service delivery and economic development. Although governments may benefit from co-operatives, the outdated legislation and lack of supportive programs do not reflect this potential. Both government (through policy making) and the cooperative sector (through advocacy and public education), however, are necessary to help increase the public profile of co-operatives and work together to create stronger policies. As autonomous organizations, co-ops have a responsibility to help themselves and each other, however, just as government supports other enterprises (through policies and development programs), so too would it be valuable to support co-ops, as social enterprises, in a similar manner. Moreover, co-operatives warrant the attention of government as well as more favorable policies because of their contributions to communities, the economy, and the labor force in addition to their potential to help address current policy goals within the Province of New Brunswick.

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