Co-operatives, Other

This category of co-operatives includes organizations involved in areas such as housing, real estate development, employment, publishing, and other unrelated activities. Since it does not represent any particular activity or industry, there is little point in comparing aggregate data. Comparisons are limited instead to the five types of co-operatives identified.

Housing co-operatives represent the largest category in this sector in terms of numbers and financial activity. As is the case with child-care co-operatives, collective ownership of housing units can help increase the number of affordable units available. At the end of the 1990s there were twenty-six housing co-operatives with 1,145 active members, up from the twenty-two co-ops and 1,045 members reporting to the Department of Justice a decade earlier. Although assets fell by $4.4 million, liabilities declined by an even greater extent—$9.1 million—resulting in a decrease in the debt-to-asset ratio, an indication of general financial health. There was a large increase in member equity over the same period, from $2 million to $6.6 million, and although revenues dropped considerably over the decade, there was a surplus of $79,000 in the late 1990s, in contrast to a negative $202,000 reported in 1989. Housing co-operatives employed forty people at the end of the 1990s, up from the thirty-two reported a decade earlier, although the wage bill dropped by 14%, reflecting the large percentage of part-time workers.

Real estate development includes co-operatives that deal with the building of non-residential facilities, as well as the purchase of land and the regulation of development in various communities. The enterprises reporting as real estate developments are primarily cottage and resort co-operatives. Although the number of co-operatives increased from eight to ten over the decade, membership decreased by 27%, dropping from 528 to 384 individuals. And while assets decreased from $1.6 million to $0.9 million—nearly 47%—liabilities fell even more remarkably, from $1.3 million to $0.2 million, resulting in a lower debt-to-asset ratio. Revenues decreased as well, but the surplus more than doubled over the decade, from $83,000 to $168,000. At the same time, member equity increased by 114%, from $334,000 to $715,000. Real estate co-operatives reported no employees in 1989; but by the end of the next decade they were employing twenty-one people, albeit with a modest wage bill of $74,000. Capital investment appears as zero at both the beginning and the end of the decade, which probably means it was simply not reported.

One response to high levels of unemployment has been the formation of employment co-operatives, with the primary focus of providing jobs for their members. Although data for most of the employment co-operatives was unavailable at the end of the 1990s due to a low level of reporting, some general observations are possible. The number of co-operatives declined by three—from eight to five—since 1989, although membership more than quadrupled, to 546 individuals. The number of people employed fell from forty-nine positions in 1989 to eighteen at the end of the next decade, and although the wage bill dropped by 56%, the average wage paid out increased.

The number of publishing co-operatives increased over the decade, from three to five, but membership fell significantly, from 210 to 89 individuals. Although both the number of employees and the wage bill decreased as well, the average wage went up for those who kept their jobs. Both assets and liabilities increased, resulting in a decreased debt-to-asset ratio, while member equity fell by nearly 6%. At $752,000, revenue was 24% higher at the end of the 1990s, while the surplus of $39,000 compared favourably to the $28,000 deficit reported in 1989. Capital investment fell from $7,000 to zero during the decade, which again may reflect a lack of reporting in this area.

The co-operatives listed as miscellaneous comprise a varied collection of enterprises, including snowploughs, crafts, a railway, and film production companies. Of the thirteen listed as active at the end of the 1990s, few provided any data at all to the Department of Justice, and none of it allowed for effective analysis.

Nora Russell

Further Reading

Fulton, Murray, et al. 1991. Economic Impact Analysis of the Co-operative Sector in Saskatchewan, Research Report Prepared for Saskatchewan Department of Economic Diversification and Trade; Herman, Roger and Murray Fulton. 2001. An Economic Impact Analysis of the Co-operative Sector in Saskatchewan: Update 1998; Ketilson, Lou Hammond, et al. 1998. The Social and Economic Importance of the Co-operative Sector in Saskatchewan, Research Report Prepared for Saskatchewan Department of Economic and Co-operative Development.