Home/ Starting/ Before starting your business Co-operatives
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.
Learn more about the various types of co-operatives to determine if this business model is a good fit for you.
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.
Find information about the incorporation process from your provincial or territorial registrar.
Only Applies to : To conduct business in Alberta, register your cooperative, corporation, extra-provincial company, non-profit company, society, trade name and/or partnership.
Alberta Incorporating a Cooperative Association in British Columbia
Only Applies to : Learn how to start and operate a cooperative in British Columbia.
British Columbia Cooperatives
Only Applies to : Learn how to start and operate a cooperative in Manitoba.
Manitoba Co-operative (Co-ops) Incorporation
Only Applies to : Learn how to start and operate a co-operative in New Brunswick.
New Brunswick Incorporating a Co-operative
Only Applies to : Learn how to start and operate a co-operative in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Newfoundland and Labrador Corporate Registries — Co-operative Associations
Only Applies to : Are you looking to establish and incorporate a co-operative within the Northwest Territories? Learn the rules in order to stay compliant with the law.
Northwest Territories Co-operatives
Only Applies to : Learn how to start and operate a co-operative in Nova Scotia.
Nova Scotia Legal registries (Nunavut)
Only Applies to : 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.
Nunavut How to Register a Co-operative
Only Applies to : Learn how to start and operate a co-operative in Ontario.
Ontario Corporate services — Business name registration
Only Applies to : Register your business name in Prince Edward Island to prevent other organizations from using the same business name.
Prince Edward Island Setting up a cooperative
Only Applies to : 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.
Quebec (in french only) Forming a co-operative in Saskatchewan
Only Applies to : Find out how to register a co-operative in Saskatchewan, including information on fees and required forms.
Saskatchewan Business registration in the Yukon
Only Applies to : In order to register your business in the Yukon, you will need to contact Corporate Affairs.
Yukon 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 Get all the information you need to understand how to charge, collect and submit GST/HST account GST/HST. T2 Corporation - Income Tax GuideIf you operate a corporation, you need to file a T2 corporation tax return every year. Learn how to complete this return.
Federal tax informationGet information about federal taxes and how they affect your business. Learn about GST, HST, payroll deductions, income tax and more. Provincial and territorial tax informationGet information on provincial and territorial taxes and find out how to collect sales tax from your local and out-of-province customers. Regulated business activitiesLearn about regulations that apply to key business activities such as exporting, importing, marketing, and managing employees. Permits and licencesFind 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.
AgPalUse 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
Only Applies to : Increase your farm efficiency through the construction of off-farm access roads and the installation of electrical services.
Newfoundland and Labrador Agriculture Development Fund
Only Applies to : Access funding to undertake agriculture or food research and development.
Saskatchewan Agriculture Financial Services Corporation Lending
Only Applies to : Access loans and services to start or grow farm, agribusiness or other small business.
Alberta Apprenticeship Training Assistance
Only Applies to : Hiring an apprentice? You may be able to obtain a subsidy to cover a portion of their wages.
Northwest Territories Apprenticeship Training Tax Credit
Only Applies to : 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.
Ontario Apprenticeship Wage Subsidy
Only Applies to : If you hire an apprentice, you could get a wage subsidy up to $14 per hour to help with salary costs.
Newfoundland and Labrador Aquaculture Loan Program
Only Applies to : Apply for a loan to establish, maintain or expand your aquaculture business.
Nova Scotia Aquaculture Loans and Loan Guarantees
Only Applies to : Find out how you could get a loan or loan guarantee for your aquaculture business.
New Brunswick Atlantic Innovation Fund
Only Applies to : If your business is in the Atlantic provinces, you could get funding to develop new technology.
Newfoundland and Labrador Prince Edward Island Nova Scotia New Brunswick 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. You could get money to help you start or grow your business. BDC business loans Business Development Centres of Nunavut
Only Applies to : If you are a Canadian living in Nunavut, you can apply for help to start or grow a business in your community.
Nunavut Business Development Program
Only Applies to : Access funds to start, expand or improve your business in Atlantic Canada.
Newfoundland and Labrador Prince Edward Island Nova Scotia New Brunswick Business Investment Fund
Only Applies to : Need financing to grow or expand your business? If it is part of the Province’s strategic sector, you could be eligible for funding.
Newfoundland and Labrador Business Retention and Expansion Program
Only Applies to : Increase your competitiveness by participating in a business retention and expansion project.
Newfoundland and Labrador Canada Small Business Financing ProgramAccess funds for your small business with the help of this loan guarantee program. Canada Summer JobsIf you hire students for the summer, this subsidy could help you cover 50% of their wages. Canadian Agricultural Loans Act programFind out how this loan guarantee could help you secure credit for your farming business. Canadian Intellectual Property OfficeIf you want to protect your invention or creative work, this organization will provide you with what you need to protect your intellectual property rights. Child Care — Quality Improvement Funding Support
Only Applies to : You can apply for funding to increase the wages of eligible permanent employees at your child day care home or centre.
New Brunswick Co-operative Education Tax Credit
Only Applies to : You may be eligible for a refundable tax credit of up to $3,000 if you hire an Ontario co-op student.
Ontario Community Business Development Corporations — Social Enterprise Loan
Only Applies to : You could get a loan of up to $150,000 to start-up, renovate or grow your social enterprise in rural Atlantic Canada.
Newfoundland and Labrador Prince Edward Island Nova Scotia New Brunswick Community Futures British Columbia — Financing programs for entrepreneurs
Only Applies to : You could get a loan to start or grow a business if you live in a rural area of British Columbia.
British Columbia Community Futures Program (Quebec)
Only Applies to : Get funding for starting or growing a business in a designated rural or suburban area of the province of Quebec.
Quebec Community Futures Program (Ontario)
Only Applies to : You could receive funding to start or grow your business in rural Ontario.
Ontario Community Futures Saskatchewan — Loan products for small businesses
Only Applies to : You could get a loan to start or grow a business if you live in rural or northern Saskatchewan.
Saskatchewan Community Futures economic development centres — Western Canada
Only Applies to : 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.
Manitoba Saskatchewan Alberta British Columbia Crafts of Character Branding Program
Only Applies to : Promote your high-quality, distinctive Newfoundland and Labrador craft, gift and apparel products through this provincial branding program.
Newfoundland and Labrador Créativité Québec
Only Applies to : Your business could get funding to buy new technology, or to develop or improve products and processes.
Quebec Direct Equity Tax Credit Program
Only Applies to : Invest in a new or expanding small business in Newfoundland and Labrador and receive a provincial income tax credit.
Newfoundland and Labrador Eastern Ontario Development Program
Only Applies to : If you are located in a rural area of Eastern Ontario, you could get financing to start or grow your business.
Ontario Economic Development Officers
Only Applies to : Obtain business support services for entrepreneurs operating in the Northwest Territories.
Northwest Territories Economic Diversification and Growth Enterprises
Only Applies to : If you establish or expand your business in Newfoundland and Labrador, particularly in rural areas, you may receive tax rebates.
Newfoundland and Labrador Employer Health Tax (Ontario)
Only Applies to : Find out if you are required to pay the Employer Health Tax in Ontario.
Ontario Employer Wage Incentive — Workforce Expansion
Only Applies to : You could receive temporary wage reimbursements when you create permanent jobs or annually recurring seasonal jobs in your business.
New Brunswick Energy Smart Commercial Buildings Retrofit Program
Only Applies to : 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.
New Brunswick Enterprise Trade Fund (Small Business)
Only Applies to : You could be eligible for funding to open, develop or expand markets or to stimulate Yukon business activities.
Yukon Entrepreneurship and Business Development Fund
Only Applies to : If you are Aboriginal and live in the territories, you could get financing to start or grow a business.
Yukon Northwest Territories Nunavut Export Development
Only Applies to : If you are looking to grow your business by exporting, you can access specialized services to help you get started.
New Brunswick Farm Credit Canada — loans and lending optionsYou could access flexible financing options for your farming, agri-food or agribusiness operation. Chantier de l'économie sociale Trust
Only Applies to : Your social economy business, non-profit organization or cooperative could benefit from financing for real estate investments or to cover operating costs.
Quebec Film and video tax credit
Only Applies to : Apply for a refundable provincial corporate income tax credit for your Newfoundland and Labrador film project.
Newfoundland and Labrador Financial programs
Only Applies to : Are you looking to obtain financing for your business? This program offers term loans, equity, contributions and letters of credit.
Northwest Territories First Citizens Fund — Business Loan Program
Only Applies to : If you are an Aboriginal resident of B.C. you can get support to start or grow your business.
British Columbia Seafood Innovation and Transition Program
Only Applies to : If your fisheries-related business or organization is transitioning from shellfish to groundfish, you could be eligible for funding.
Newfoundland and Labrador Fonds d'investissement en agroalimentaire Nicolet-Yamaska
Only Applies to : You could receive financial assistance of up to $10,000 to start or expand your non-conventional-sized agri-food business.
Quebec Getting the Message Out program
Only Applies to : Find out about economic development initiatives and entrepreneurial opportunities in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Newfoundland and Labrador Grants for registered family child care homes
Only Applies to : Thinking of starting a registered family child care home in Newfoundland and Labrador? You may be eligible for start-up grants and yearly supplements.
Newfoundland and Labrador Industrial Research Assistance ProgramYour 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
Only Applies to : Your established Ontario business or not-for-profit organization may be eligible for funding to grow and be more productive.
Ontario JobsNL Wage Subsidy
Only Applies to : 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.
Newfoundland and Labrador Junior Exploration Assistance Program
Only Applies to : You could receive a grant to conduct advanced mineral exploration and prospecting activities.
Newfoundland and Labrador Linkages
Only Applies to : You could receive a wage subsidy to hire a youth for a 26-week placement.
Newfoundland and Labrador Livestock insurance
Only Applies to : Get insurance to compensate against livestock losses or injury caused by dogs or other predators.
Newfoundland and Labrador Market Readiness Subsidy Program
Only Applies to : You could receive a subsidy to offset costs of training and professional development for your tourism business or non-profit organization.
Newfoundland and Labrador MASC Lending Programs and Loan Guarantees
Only Applies to : Tap into a number of programs tailored to meet your needs, and access attractive interest rates on loans and guarantees.
Manitoba Metis-Dene Development Fund
Only Applies to : You could get a loan to help you develop your business in the Northwest Territories.
Northwest Territories Northern Ontario Development Program
Only Applies to : Apply for financing to grow your business in Northern Ontario.
Ontario Northwest Territories Arts Council Funding
Only Applies to : Are you an artist in the Northwest Territories? You could get a grant to help finance your artistic project.
Northwest Territories Nova Scotia farm loans
Only Applies to : Apply for a variety of lending products to help start or grow your agricultural business.
Nova Scotia Nunavut Business Credit Corporation
Only Applies to : You could get up to $1 million to start or grow a business in Nunavut.
Nunavut Ontario Catapult Microloan Fund for Social Enterprises
Only Applies to : You may be eligible for a loan of $5,000 to $25,000 for your innovative Ontario-based social enterprise.
Ontario Ontario Innovation Tax Credit
Only Applies to : 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 Ontario Tax Exemption for Commercialization
Only Applies to : Your corporation may be eligible for a tax exemption if you sell new products developed by Canadian colleges or universities.
Ontario Partnerships Options for CompaniesGet help with your Canadian R&D projects in natural sciences or engineering from colleges and universities in Canada. Passeport innovation
Only Applies to : Your eligible SME, cooperative or non-profit organization could receive funding to support technological, organizational and social innovation projects.
Quebec Quebec Economic Development Program (QEDP)
Only Applies to : Find out about financial and other resources that can help you develop your Quebec business.
Quebec R&D Proof of Concept
Only Applies to : Apply for a grant to reduce the technical and financial risk of your innovative, pre-commercial research and development project.
Newfoundland and Labrador R&D Vouchers
Only Applies to : Access funding for technical expertise and facilities that will support your research and development activities within your innovative business.
Newfoundland and Labrador Regional Development Fund
Only Applies to : 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.
Newfoundland and Labrador Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program for employers
Only Applies to : Are you an employer unable to fill your labour needs domestically?
Saskatchewan Saskatchewan Trade and Export Partnership
Only Applies to : Is your business exporting or export-ready? Maximize your commercial success in global ventures by getting customized expert advice and assistance.
Saskatchewan Self Employment Option
Only Applies to : Interested in starting your own business in the
Northwest Territories NWT? If you are unemployed, you could continue to receive benefits and get help to start your business.
Selling to governmentsLearn how your business can take advantage of contracting opportunities from the federal, provincial, territorial, municipal and foreign governments. Sivummut Grants to Small Businesses
Only Applies to : If you live in the Baffin (Qikiqtaaluk) region of Nunavut, you could get up to $25,000 to start or grow a business.
Nunavut Small Business Development Program
Only Applies to : You could qualify for a government rebate of up to $15,000 to increase your export capacity.
Nova Scotia Small Business Enterprise Centres
Only Applies to : Get help to start or grow your small business in Ontario.
Ontario Small Business Loan Guarantee Program
Only Applies to : You could borrow up to $500,000 to help establish or grow your Nova Scotia business.
Nova Scotia Small Business Tax Credit
Only Applies to : You can benefit from a reduced rate of taxation for your small business.
Newfoundland and Labrador Social Enterprise Ontario
Only Applies to : 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.
Ontario Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council — PartnershipsYou could get help with your projects in social sciences and humanities from colleges and universities in Canada. Starter Company
Only Applies to : 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.
Ontario Strategic Aerospace and Defence InitiativeIf your aerospace and defence company is incorporated in Canada, you could receive money for R&D projects in Canada. Strategic Industries Development Fund
Only Applies to : If your business undertakes a strategic industry-related project, you may be eligible for funding if the project provides positive economic outcomes.
Yukon Strategic Investments Program
Only Applies to : 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.
Nunavut Strategic Investments in Northern Economic Development
Only Applies to : Find out how your northern business could get up to $99,999 for a project that creates jobs and helps develop the North.
Yukon Northwest Territories Nunavut Student Summer Employment Wage Subsidy Program
Only Applies to : You could get a wage subsidy to hire a high school or post-secondary student for the summer.
Newfoundland and Labrador Student Summer Works ( SSW) Program
Only Applies to : You may be eligible to apply for a wage subsidy to hire a student for your Saskatchewan-based business this summer.
Saskatchewan Supplier Development Program
Only Applies to : Learn how to identify and access public sector supply opportunities.
Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism Product Diversification and Marketing Program
Only Applies to : Access funding to develop your tourism business in the Northwest Territories.
Northwest Territories Training on the Job
Only Applies to : 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.
Northwest Territories Wage Incentive — One-job Pledge
Only Applies to : You could receive wage reimbursements for 52 weeks to hire a recent post-secondary graduate.
New Brunswick Western Diversification Program
Only Applies to : If your not-for-profit organization is looking to strengthen the economy of Western Canada, you can apply for funding for various initiatives.
Manitoba Saskatchewan Alberta British Columbia Western Innovation (WINN) Initiative
Only Applies to : Your Western business could get financial assistance to bring innovative products, processes and services to market.
Manitoba Saskatchewan Alberta British Columbia Wholesale Marketing Program
Only Applies to : Are you looking to develop wholesale markets for your business’ craft, gift and apparel products? This program could help your venture’s sales growth.
Newfoundland and Labrador Women's Enterprise Centre (Manitoba)
Only Applies to : Are you a woman entrepreneur looking to start, expand or purchase a business? Get help to improve your business skills and acquire financing.
Manitoba Work Ability
Only Applies to : You could be eligible for wage subsidies to provide participants with job exposure to make them "job ready".
New Brunswick Workplace Innovation and Productivity Skills Incentive
Only Applies to : You can apply for funding to train your employees and help boost productivity.
Nova Scotia Yukon Agriculture Development
Only Applies to : You could receive funding to develop agricultural projects that can improve the economic conditions of your region.
Yukon Yukon Small Business Investment Tax Credit
Only Applies to : As an active Yukon entrpreneur, you can apply for a certificate to attract investors with a tax credit.
Yukon Yukon Tourism Cooperative Marketing Fund
Only Applies to : Apply for up to $105,000 in funding to help your tourism business pay for costs associated with marketing.
Only Applies to : Are you between the ages of 18 and 39? You could get advice and guidance from an experienced business mentor for 6 months.
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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