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Co-operatives in Canada, 2020

Released: 2023-03-31

A non-financial co-operative is a corporation that is legally incorporated under specific federal, provincial or territorial co-operative acts, and that is owned by an association of persons seeking to satisfy common needs, such as access to products or services, sale of products or services, or employment.

In 2020, there were a total of 5,531 active non-financial co-operatives in Canada, a decrease of 0.6% from 2019. Non-profits made up 63.9% of all co-operatives.

The majority of co-operatives operated in three sectors

In 2020, more than half of active non-financial co-operatives operated in the real estate and rental and leasing industries (33.8%), in wholesale and retail trade (13.8%), and in public administration and other services (12.7%).

Examples of co-operatives in the real estate sector include housing co-ops, while co-operatives in public administration include social advocacy organizations.

More than two-thirds (68.2%) of active non-financial co-operatives were consumer co-operatives, 15.6% were producer co-operatives, 8.2% were multi stakeholders, 6.6% were worker co-operatives, and 1.4% were federations.

Over half (52.3%) of co-operatives were non-employers (0 employees), which were active and were run by unpaid members; 44.8% were small enterprises (1 to 99 employees); 2.5% were medium-sized enterprises (100 to 499 employees); and 0.5% were large enterprises (over 500 employees).

Quebec had the largest share of active co-operatives (44.5%), followed by Ontario (18.9%).

Expenditures, revenues, balance sheets and employment declined from 2019 to 2020 

Financial and employment indicators of Canadian co-operatives recorded a downturn in 2020 compared with 2019, in line with the trend experienced by the whole Canadian economy during the first COVID-19 pandemic year.

In 2020, Canadian co-operatives generated $48.6 billion in total revenues, a 8.3% decrease from 2019. From 2019 to 2020, their sales (down 8.1% to $45.3 billion) and expenses (down 6.7% to $47.2 billion) decreased.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Counts of active non-financial co-operatives in Canada, by province and for the territories
Counts of active non-financial co-operatives in Canada, by province and for the territories

Canadian co-operatives held $44.3 billion in assets in 2020 (-2.9% from 2019) and $21.1 billion in liabilities (-1.9% from 2019). During that same period, shareholder equity of Canadian co-operatives decreased 3.7% to $23.2 billion.

Co-operatives employed 100,987 people in 2020, a 2.8% decrease from 2019, and paid $2.6 billion in salaries and wages.

Chart 2  Chart 2: Financial performance variables of non-financial co-operatives
Financial performance variables of non-financial co-operatives

  Note to readers

A co-operative is defined as being "active" if it has positive employment, revenue or expenses in a given year.

Yukon, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut have been grouped as "Territories."

Estimates are based on domestic financial and employment data as reported to the Canada Revenue Agency.

All non-financial co-operatives included are legally incorporated under specific non-financial co-operative acts; they do not include financial co-operatives, such as credit unions and caisses populaires, which are governed by separate legislation.


The infographic "Co-operatives in Canada, 2020," which is part of the series Statistics Canada — Infographics (Catalogue number11-627-M), is now available.

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