Co-operatives 

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Are you thinking of forming a co-operative? Co-operatives are owned by an association of people or businesses that pool their resources to meet a common need. A co-operative offers democratic control – each member gets one vote. Because the business is considered a legal entity, the business structure limits the liability of a cooperative's members. It also allows the organization to acquire assets, go into debt, enter into contracts, and more.

Canadian co-operatives operate in a variety of economic sectors such as agriculture, food, social services (e.g. health care, housing), retail and wholesale, fishing, energy, recreational services, and financial (including insurance).

The following information is meant to help you navigate the world of co-operatives. For general information on business start-up, consult our sections on starting and planning.

On this page:

About co-operatives

Learn more about the various types of co-operatives to determine if this business model is a good fit for you.

  • An Information Guide on Co-operatives

    Is the co-operative business model for you? Learn about the business structure, how to form a co-op, the legislation across Canada and more.

  • Co-operatives overview
    Applies only to: Manitoba

    Learn more about co-operatives in Manitoba: model, types, management and structure.

Incorporate as a co-operative

You can choose to incorporate as a co-operative with either your provincial/territorial government or with the federal government. Your choice will depend on whether you intend to operate in more than one province or territory. Make sure you understand the rules you need to follow to remain in good standing, and know how to make changes to your organization and what your obligations to members are.

Provincial/territorial co-operatives

Find information about the incorporation process from your provincial or territorial registrar.

Alberta
  • Corporate Registry

    To conduct business in Alberta, register your cooperative, corporation, extra-provincial company, non-profit company, society, trade name and/or partnership.

British ColumbiaManitoba
  • Cooperatives

    Learn how to start and operate a cooperative in Manitoba.

New BrunswickNewfoundland and LabradorNorthwest TerritoriesNova Scotia
  • Co-operatives

    Learn how to start and operate a co-operative in Nova Scotia.

Nunavut
  • Legal registries (Nunavut)

    In order to do business in Nunavut, you must register with the territory, even if you live in or have a business established in another part of Canada.

OntarioPrince Edward IslandQuébec
  • Setting up a cooperative (in French only)

    Do you want to create or start a cooperative? If so, learn more about the laws, programs, policies and tools related to starting a cooperative.

SaskatchewanYukon

Federal co-operatives

To incorporate a co-operative at the federal level, you must intend to carry on your business and/or have a fixed place of business in more than one province or territory. 

When you incorporate as a federal co-operative, you are also required to register your business in the province or territory where you will be operating.

If you operate in more than one province or territory, you may need to register with those regions as an extra-provincial or extra-territorial corporation.

Regulations and taxation

There are certain rules that all businesses must follow. This includes charging GST/HST on taxable goods and services if you do not qualify as a small supplier. Other obligations could apply if you undertake certain business activities such as hiring, marketing, selling and importing. The Canada Revenue Agency considers a co-operative that is a legally incorporated business to be a corporation for income tax and GST/HST purposes.

  • Register for a GST/HST account

    Get all the information you need to understand how to charge, collect and submit GST/HST.

  • T2 Corporation - Income Tax Guide

    If you operate a corporation, you need to file a T2 corporation tax return every year. Learn how to complete this return.

  • Federal tax information

    Get information about federal taxes and how they affect your business. Learn about GST, HST, payroll deductions, income tax and more.

  • Provincial and territorial tax information

    Get information on provincial and territorial taxes and find out how to collect sales tax from your local and out-of-province customers.

  • Regulated business activities

    Learn about regulations that apply to key business activities such as exporting, importing, marketing, and managing employees.

  • Permits and licences

    Find the federal, provincial/territorial and municipal permits and licences that you may need to start or manage your business.

Support organizations for co-operatives

Seeking the advice of peers, professional business counsellors and associations can help you develop and strengthen your business.

Programs and services available

Discover some of the programs and services that are available to your co-operative.

  • BDC business loans

    You could get money to help you start or grow your business.

  • MASC Lending Programs and Loan Guarantees
    Applies only to: Manitoba

    Tap into a number of programs tailored to meet your needs, and access attractive interest rates on loans and guarantees.

  • R&D Vouchers
    Applies only to: Newfoundland and Labrador

    Access funding for technical expertise and facilities that will support your research and development activities within your innovative business.

  • AgPal

    Use this tool to find information on programs and services available to you if you conduct business in the agriculture or agri-business sector.

  • Agriculture Access Road and Electrical Program
    Applies only to: Newfoundland and Labrador

    Increase your farm efficiency through the construction of off-farm access roads and the installation of electrical services.

  • Agriculture Development Fund
    Applies only to: Saskatchewan

    Access funding to undertake agriculture or food research and development.

  • Agriculture Financial Services Corporation Lending
    Applies only to: Alberta

    Access loans and services to start or grow farm, agribusiness or other small business.

  • Agriculture and Agrifoods Development Fund
    Applies only to: Newfoundland and Labrador

    Get funding to diversify and expand your primary or secondary processing operation.

  • Apprenticeship Training Assistance
    Applies only to: Northwest Territories

    Hiring an apprentice? You may be able to obtain a subsidy to cover a portion of their wages.

  • Apprenticeship Training Tax Credit
    Applies only to: Ontario

    You may qualify for an annual tax credit of up to $5,000 per qualifying apprentice to a maximum of $15,000 over a 36-month period.

  • Apprenticeship Wage Subsidy
    Applies only to: Newfoundland and Labrador

    If you hire an apprentice, you could get a wage subsidy up to $14 per hour to help with salary costs.

  • Aquaculture Loan Program
    Applies only to: Nova Scotia

    Apply for a loan to establish, maintain or expand your aquaculture business.

  • Aquaculture Loans and Loan Guarantees
    Applies only to: New Brunswick

    Find out how you could get a loan or loan guarantee for your aquaculture business.

  • Atlantic Innovation Fund
    Applies only to: New Brunswick Newfoundland and Labrador Nova Scotia Prince Edward Island

    If your business is in the Atlantic provinces, you could get funding to develop new technology.

  • Automotive Innovation Fund

    If you have an incorporated automotive business, you could get funding to build greener, more fuel-efficient vehicles through innovation and R&D.

  • Business Development Centres of Nunavut
    Applies only to: Nunavut

    If you are a Canadian living in Nunavut, you can apply for help to start or grow a business in your community.

  • Business Development Program
    Applies only to: New Brunswick Newfoundland and Labrador Nova Scotia Prince Edward Island

    Access funds to start, expand or improve your business in Atlantic Canada.

  • Business Investment Fund
    Applies only to: Newfoundland and Labrador

    Need financing to grow or expand your business? If it is part of the Province’s strategic sector, you could be eligible for funding.

  • Business Retention and Expansion Program
    Applies only to: Newfoundland and Labrador

    Increase your competitiveness by participating in a business retention and expansion project.

  • Canada Small Business Financing Program

    Access funds for your small business with the help of this loan guarantee program.

  • Canada Summer Jobs

    If you hire students for the summer, this subsidy could help you cover 50% of their wages.

  • Canadian Agricultural Loans Act program

    Find out how this loan guarantee could help you secure credit for your farming business.

  • Canadian Intellectual Property Office

    If you want to protect your invention or creative work, this organization will provide you with what you need to protect your intellectual property rights.

  • Chantier de l'économie sociale Trust
    Applies only to: Québec

    Your social economy business, non-profit organization or cooperative could benefit from financing for real estate investments or to cover operating costs.

  • Child Care — Quality Improvement Funding Support
    Applies only to: New Brunswick

    You can apply for funding to increase the wages of eligible permanent employees at your child day care home or centre.

  • Co-operative Education Tax Credit
    Applies only to: Ontario

    You may be eligible for a refundable tax credit of up to $3,000 if you hire an Ontario co-op student.

  • Community Business Development Corporations — Social Enterprise Loan
    Applies only to: Newfoundland and Labrador Nova Scotia New Brunswick Prince Edward Island

    You could get a loan of up to $150,000 to start-up, renovate or grow your social enterprise in rural Atlantic Canada.

  • Community Futures British Columbia — Financing programs for entrepreneurs
    Applies only to: British Columbia

    You could get a loan to start or grow a business if you live in a rural area of British Columbia.

  • Community Futures Program
    Applies only to: Québec

    Get funding for starting or growing a business in a rural or disadvantaged area of the province of Quebec.

  • Community Futures Program (Ontario)
    Applies only to: Ontario

    You could receive funding to start or grow your business in rural Ontario.

  • Community Futures Saskatchewan — Loan products for small businesses
    Applies only to: Saskatchewan

    You could get a loan to start or grow a business if you live in rural or northern Saskatchewan.

  • Community Futures economic development centres — Western Canada
    Applies only to: Alberta British Columbia Manitoba Saskatchewan

    If you live in a rural region of Western Canada and want to start or grow your business, you can get business counseling and training in your area.

  • Computer Animation and Special Effects Tax Credit
    Applies only to: Ontario

    Your corporation may qualify for an 18% refundable tax credit based on labour expenses for computer animation and special effects activities.

  • Créativité Québec
    Applies only to: Québec

    Your business could get funding to buy new technology, or to develop or improve products and processes.

  • Crafts of Character Branding Program
    Applies only to: Newfoundland and Labrador

    Promote your high-quality, distinctive Newfoundland and Labrador craft, gift and apparel products through this provincial branding program.

  • Direct Equity Tax Credit Program
    Applies only to: Newfoundland and Labrador

    Invest in a new or expanding small business in Newfoundland and Labrador and receive a provincial income tax credit.

  • Eastern Ontario Development Program
    Applies only to: Ontario

    If you are located in a rural area of Eastern Ontario, you could get financing to start or grow your business.

  • Economic Development Officers
    Applies only to: Northwest Territories

    Obtain business support services for entrepreneurs operating in the Northwest Territories.

  • Economic Diversification and Growth Enterprises
    Applies only to: Newfoundland and Labrador

    If you establish or expand your business in Newfoundland and Labrador, particularly in rural areas, you may receive tax rebates.

  • Employer Health Tax (Ontario)
    Applies only to: Ontario

    Find out if you are required to pay the Employer Health Tax in Ontario.

  • Employer Wage Incentive — Workforce Expansion
    Applies only to: New Brunswick

    You could receive temporary wage reimbursements when you create permanent jobs or annually recurring seasonal jobs in your business.

  • Energy Smart Commercial Buildings Retrofit Program
    Applies only to: New Brunswick

    You could get up to $3,000 to evaluate the energy efficiency of your business and up to $75,000 to pay for the energy upgrades.

  • Enterprise Trade Fund (Small Business)
    Applies only to: Yukon

    You could be eligible for funding to open, develop or expand markets or to stimulate Yukon business activities.

  • Entrepreneurship and Business Development Fund
    Applies only to: Northwest Territories Nunavut Yukon

    If you are Aboriginal and live in the territories, you could get financing to start or grow a business.

  • Export Development
    Applies only to: New Brunswick

    If you are looking to grow your business by exporting, you can access specialized services to help you get started.

  • Farm Credit Canada — loans and lending options

    You could access flexible financing options for your farming, agri-food or agribusiness operation.

  • Film and video tax credit
    Applies only to: Newfoundland and Labrador

    Apply for a refundable provincial corporate income tax credit for your Newfoundland and Labrador film project.

  • Financial programs
    Applies only to: Northwest Territories

    Are you looking to obtain financing for your business? This program offers term loans, equity, contributions and letters of credit.

  • First Citizens Fund — Business Loan Program
    Applies only to: British Columbia

    If you are an Aboriginal resident of B.C. you can get support to start or grow your business.

  • Fisheries Technology and New Opportunities Program
    Applies only to: Newfoundland and Labrador

    You could access funding for research and development projects in the harvesting and processing sectors.

  • Fonds d'investissement en agroalimentaire Nicolet-Yamaska
    Applies only to: Québec

    You could receive financial assistance of up to $10,000 to start or expand your non-conventional-sized agri-food business.

  • Getting the Message Out program
    Applies only to: Newfoundland and Labrador

    Find out about economic development initiatives and entrepreneurial opportunities in Newfoundland and Labrador.

  • Grants for registered family child care homes
    Applies only to: Newfoundland and Labrador

    Thinking of starting a registered family child care home in Newfoundland and Labrador? You may be eligible for start-up grants and yearly supplements.

  • Industrial Research Assistance Program

    Your small or medium-sized business may qualify for financial assistance to develop, adopt, adapt and/or commercialize new or improved technologies.

  • Investing in Business Growth and Productivity
    Applies only to: Ontario

    Your established Ontario business or not-for-profit organization may be eligible for funding to grow and be more productive.

  • JobsNL Wage Subsidy
    Applies only to: Newfoundland and Labrador

    Need to hire an employee for short or long-term duration to help with your business? You could get a wage subsidy to assist with the costs.

  • Junior Exploration Assistance Program
    Applies only to: Newfoundland and Labrador

    You could receive a grant to conduct advanced mineral exploration and prospecting activities.

  • Linkages
    Applies only to: Newfoundland and Labrador

    You could receive a wage subsidy to hire a youth for a 26-week placement.

  • Livestock insurance
    Applies only to: Newfoundland and Labrador

    Get insurance to compensate against livestock losses or injury caused by dogs or other predators.

  • Market Readiness Subsidy Program
    Applies only to: Newfoundland and Labrador

    You could receive a subsidy to offset costs of training and professional development for your tourism business or non-profit organization.

  • Metis-Dene Development Fund
    Applies only to: Northwest Territories

    You could get a loan to help you develop your business in the Northwest Territories.

  • Northern Ontario Development Program
    Applies only to: Ontario

    Apply for financing to grow your business in Northern Ontario.

  • Northwest Territories Arts Council Funding
    Applies only to: Northwest Territories

    Are you an artist in the Northwest Territories? You could get a grant to help finance your artistic project.

  • Nova Scotia farm loans
    Applies only to: Nova Scotia

    Apply for a variety of lending products to help start or grow your agricultural business.

  • Nunavut Business Credit Corporation
    Applies only to: Nunavut

    You could get up to $1 million to start or grow a business in Nunavut.

  • Ontario Book Publishing Tax Credit
    Applies only to: Ontario

    You may be entitled to a 30% refundable tax credit, to a maximum of $30,000 per literary work, if you publish or promote work by a Canadian author.

  • Ontario Catapult Microloan Fund for Social Enterprises
    Applies only to: Ontario

    You may be eligible for a loan of $5,000 to $25,000 for your innovative Ontario-based social enterprise.

  • Ontario Film and Television Tax Credit
    Applies only to: Ontario

    If you are an Ontario film or television producer, you may qualify for a refundable tax credit based on labour expenses for productions in Ontario.

  • Ontario Innovation Tax Credit
    Applies only to: Ontario

    You may be able to claim a 10 or 8% tax credit for scientific research and experimental development done by your Ontario-based corporation in Ontario.

  • Ontario Interactive Digital Media Tax Credit
    Applies only to: Ontario

    You could be eligible for a tax credit toward the labour and marketing costs of your digital media production.

  • Ontario Production Services Tax Credit
    Applies only to: Ontario

    Your production company could be eligible to receive a refundable tax credit for production expenses.

  • Ontario Tax Exemption for Commercialization
    Applies only to: Ontario

    Your corporation may be eligible for a tax exemption if you sell new products developed by Canadian colleges or universities.

  • Paid Work Experience Tax Credits
    Applies only to: Manitoba

    Are you ready to grow your workforce? Get help to recruit and retain qualified young workers.

  • Partnerships Options for Companies

    Get help with your Canadian R&D projects in natural sciences or engineering from colleges and universities in Canada.

  • Passeport innovation
    Applies only to: Québec

    Your eligible SME, cooperative or non-profit organization could receive funding to support technological, organizational and social innovation projects.

  • Quebec Economic Development Program (QEDP)
    Applies only to: Québec

    Find out about financial and other resources that can help you develop your Quebec business.

  • R&D Proof of Concept
    Applies only to: Newfoundland and Labrador

    Apply for a grant to reduce the technical and financial risk of your innovative, pre-commercial research and development project.

  • Regional Development Fund
    Applies only to: Newfoundland and Labrador

    Need to enhance skills essential for regional economic development? If you run a non-profit organization in Newfoundland and Labrador, you could be eligible for funding.

  • Rural Economic Development Program
    Applies only to: Ontario

    Access funding for your partnership projects that improve employee skills and economic diversity in rural or less urbanized areas of Ontario.

  • Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program for employers
    Applies only to: Saskatchewan

    Are you an employer unable to fill your labour needs domestically?

  • Saskatchewan Trade and Export Partnership
    Applies only to: Saskatchewan

    Is your business exporting or export-ready? Maximize your commercial success in global ventures by getting customized expert advice and assistance.

  • Self Employment Option
    Applies only to: Northwest Territories

    Interested in starting your own business in the NWT? If you are unemployed, you could continue to receive benefits and get help to start your business.

  • Selling to governments

    Learn how your business can take advantage of contracting opportunities from the federal, provincial, territorial, municipal and foreign governments.

  • Sivummut Grants to Small Businesses
    Applies only to: Nunavut

    If you live in the Baffin (Qikiqtaaluk) region of Nunavut, you could get up to $25,000 to start or grow a business.

  • Small Business Development Program
    Applies only to: Nova Scotia

    You could qualify for a government rebate of up to $15,000 to increase your export capacity.

  • Small Business Enterprise Centres
    Applies only to: Ontario

    Get help to start or grow your small business in Ontario.

  • Small Business Loan Guarantee Program
    Applies only to: Nova Scotia

    You could borrow up to $500,000 to help establish or grow your Nova Scotia business.

  • Small Business Tax Credit
    Applies only to: Newfoundland and Labrador

    You can benefit from a reduced rate of taxation for your small business.

  • Social Enterprise Ontario
    Applies only to: Ontario

    Your social enterprise with an environmental or social goal for Francophones may be eligible for grants of up to $16,000 or loans of up to $40,000.

  • Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council — Partnerships

    You could get help with your projects in social sciences and humanities from colleges and universities in Canada.

  • Starter Company
    Applies only to: Ontario

    As a youth entrepreneur, you may be eligible for funding of up to $5,000 and business skills training to help you a start or expand a business.

  • Strategic Aerospace and Defence Initiative

    If your aerospace and defence company is incorporated in Canada, you could receive money for R&D projects in Canada.

  • Strategic Industries Development Fund
    Applies only to: Yukon

    If your business undertakes a strategic industry-related project, you may be eligible for funding if the project provides positive economic outcomes.

  • Strategic Investments Program
    Applies only to: Nunavut

    You could get funding to start or grow a business, or to help build Nunavut's economy if you run a not-for-profit corporation or society.

  • Strategic Investments in Northern Economic Development
    Applies only to: Northwest Territories Nunavut Yukon

    Find out how your northern business could get up to $99,999 for a project that creates jobs and helps develop the North.

  • Student Summer Employment Wage Subsidy Program
    Applies only to: Newfoundland and Labrador

    You could get a wage subsidy to hire a high school or post-secondary student for the summer.

  • Student Summer Works (SSW) Program
    Applies only to: Saskatchewan

    You may be eligible to apply for a wage subsidy to hire a student for your Saskatchewan-based business this summer.

  • Supplier Development Program
    Applies only to: Newfoundland and Labrador

    Learn how to identify and access public sector supply opportunities.

  • Tourism Product Diversification and Marketing Program
    Applies only to: Northwest Territories

    Access funding to develop your tourism business in the Northwest Territories.

  • Training on the Job
    Applies only to: Northwest Territories

    If your business is in the Northwest Territories you could get a wage subsidy to train your employees and increase the skills of your workforce.

  • Wage Incentive — One-job Pledge
    Applies only to: New Brunswick

    You could receive wage reimbursements for 52 weeks to hire a recent post-secondary graduate.

  • Western Diversification Program
    Applies only to: Manitoba Saskatchewan British Columbia Alberta

    If your not-for-profit organization is looking to strengthen the economy of Western Canada, you can apply for funding for various initiatives.

  • Western Innovation (WINN) Initiative
    Applies only to: Alberta British Columbia Manitoba Saskatchewan

    Your Western business could get financial assistance to bring innovative products, processes and services to market.

  • Wholesale Marketing Program
    Applies only to: Newfoundland and Labrador

    Are you looking to develop wholesale markets for your business’ craft, gift and apparel products? This program could help your venture’s sales growth.

  • Women's Enterprise Centre (Manitoba)
    Applies only to: Manitoba

    Are you a woman entrepreneur looking to start, expand or purchase a business? Get help to improve your business skills and acquire financing.

  • Work Ability
    Applies only to: New Brunswick

    You could be eligible for wage subsidies to provide participants with job exposure to make them "job ready".

  • Workplace Innovation and Productivity Skills Incentive
    Applies only to: Nova Scotia

    You can apply for funding to train your employees and help boost productivity.

  • Yukon Agriculture Development
    Applies only to: Yukon

    You could receive funding to develop agricultural projects that can improve the economic conditions of your region.

  • Yukon Small Business Investment Tax Credit
    Applies only to: Yukon

    As an active Yukon entrpreneur, you can apply for a certificate to attract investors with a tax credit.

  • Yukon Tourism Cooperative Marketing Fund
    Applies only to: Yukon

    Apply for up to $105,000 in funding to help your tourism business pay for costs associated with marketing.

  • moMENTum

    Get advice and guidance from an experienced business mentor for 6 months. Benefit from personalized support to keep on track.

You may also be eligible for other government programs. Find a list of programs from the federal, provincial, and territorial governments, as well as private sector financing, including debt and equity.

Programs for non-profit co-operatives

If your co-operative operates as a non-profit organization, you could qualify for these additional programs if you meet the eligibility requirements.

If your co-operative provides services to official language minority communities, you could qualify for funding. In all regions except Southern Ontario, your co-operative must be a non-profit to qualify. The program is delivered by several government departments.

If your co-operative is a non-profit learning organization, you could qualify to get free computers for your school.

Your non-profit co-operative could qualify for funding to help hire a youth for an internship in the field of information and communications.

As a non-profit co-operative in Southern Ontario with a mandate of economic development, you could obtain financing to carry out business-led research and development activities.

As a non-profit co-operative in Southern Ontario with a mandate of economic development, you could obtain financing for projects that can help diversify your region’s economy.

Your non-profit or non-commercial organisation could qualify for funding for projects that deliver long-term employment and economic capacity building in rural communities of Atlantic Canada.

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