Co-operative healthcare has been well established in Canada for over 50 years, addressing the social determinants of health (housing, access to health care, food security, employment etc) in response to the unique wellness and health needs of individual and communities. We are care-effective, efficient, community-based, member-controlled and values-driven. We provide outstanding services. Health care co-ops are productive, fiscally responsible and socially necessary, addressing the social determinants of health in their communities. In 1996 five co-ops in Québec established La Fédération des coopératives de services à domicile et de santé du Québec (FCSDSQ).
2011 – Health co-ops from across Canada incorporated the Health Care Co-operatives Federation of Canada (HCCFC). The overall purpose of the HCCFC is to promote and support health care co-operatives across the country. We started to exchange information, share questions, ideas and solutions. Established bylaws. Realized that there is no comprehensive list of co-ops across Canada in our sector, nor any agreed definition of “health” or “health co-op” and that the work varied enormously between provinces and within provinces. Started to develop policies. Received support from The Co-operators and the Canadian Co-op Association (CCA).
2012 – Visited health co-ops across Canada and recognized that the word “health” is often interpreted as “medical” whereas the work of HCCFC members extends far beyond this. Held our Annual General Meeting in Quebec in conjunction with the International Co-op Summit. As part of this, held our first “Learning Exchange” in which we develop an understanding of at least one best program or best practice of one of our members. Received support from The Co-operators, the CCA and Vancity. Recognized that health co-ops, especially those that do not include staff salaried by the province, suffer from very tight budgets.
2013 – Continued to visit members and potential members. Became a founding member of Co-ops and Mutuals Canada, the national, bilingual organization that took over the domestic work of the former CCA and CCCM. Received support from The Co-operators, Vancity, Affinity and Assinoboine and, in lieu of a grant, received membership in the CMC at reduced cost. Held out AGM in Halifax with excellent participation by educational institutions. Learning Exchanges led by Careforce and NorWest introducing us to the Co-op Orientation program and Hans Kai.
2014 – Chair appointed to the Board of the International Health Co-op Organization, participated in the Board meeting in Barcelona and presented at the Health Forum of the Global Alliance for Health and the World Health Organization in Geneva. Received much appreciated guidance from the WHO on definitions of health and health care. Contributed to the study “Better Health and Social Care: How are Co-ops and Mutuals boosting Innovation and Access Worldwide.” At the CMC AGM were delighted to present a Certificate of Lifetime appreciation to Mark Goldblat who had, when on staff of CCA and after retirement, given so much help and encouragement to the HCCFC. At the International Co-op Summit held our AGM, held a Learning Exchange with participants from North, Central and South America, Europe, Africa and Asia. Hosted a panel discussion with representatives of the federal government All Party Parliamentary Caucus on Co-operatives. Provided Moderator and two speakers for the forum on Health Co-ops. Received support from The Co-operators, Vancity, Affinity and Assinoboine and, in lieu of a grant, received membership in the CMC at reduced cost.
2015 – Participated, by “Go To Meeting” in the Ways Forward – 3 conference in Manchester, England. Presented to the All Party Caucus on Co-operatives with JP Girard, author of “Better Health and Social Care”, and CMC representing the FCSDSQ. Presented to health, community and academic organizations, city councils and community groups in the Republic of Ireland, Scotland and England. Organized a Learning Exchange in Victoria to bring Nor’West’s Hans Kai program to BC. Participated in the CMC AGM in Saskatoon. Received support from The Co-operators, Vancity, Affinity and Assinoboine and, in lieu of a grant, received membership in the CMC at reduced cost.
Our strategies are:
- to facilitate networking by maintaining an up-to-date directory of health co-ops and by meeting with health co-ops and through regional and national events
- to facilitate the sharing of best practices and programs as they are developed by co-ops across the country or internationally – examples being the Hans Kai program developed by Nor’West in Winnipeg and the Co-op Orientation modules from CareForce in Nova Scotia
- to develop the metrics needed to demonstrate the co-op advantage and the cost-effectiveness and care-effectiveness of health co-ops
We are working together to enhance understanding of the full scope of the contribution of health co-ops across Canada and then to take this information to governments at all levels. We inform communities about the ways in which health co-ops can meet their needs. At every AGM, through regional meetings and individual visits, we spread the word about the outstanding programs of each co-op. We encourage growth through co-operation not competition. We are happy to meet with community groups, researchers, government officials, funders and any individuals or groups wishing to explore the potential of community owned wellness and health care.