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Solidarity Co‐operatives (Quebec, Canada): How Social Enterprises can Combine Social and Economic Goals

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In many European countries, multi‐stakeholder co‐operatives provide a positive contribution to the renewal of the co‐operative model by offering relevant answers to new needs that combine social and economic dimensions. However, in North America, this model has a very limited impact, except in the Canadian province of Quebec where solidarity cooperatives can be found. In the ten‐year period from 1997 to 2007, 479 solidarity co‐operatives were created. The solidarity co‐operative was developed to attract new key players of the civil society. Indeed, solidarity co‐operatives can be set up in many original ways in various branches of industry, including new ones for co‐operatives such as environment, leisure, fair trade and health care. After an overview of the development of multi‐stakeholder co‐operatives from a global perspective, this chapter explains the genesis of the idea behind solidarity co‐operatives in Quebec and present the legal provisions which define the concept and which prescribe its policies. This is followed by a brief portrait of the development of the formula following the legal act which led to its existence in 1997, and by data that relates to the current number of co‐operatives and participant members, branches of the industry and their regional distribution. The last section offers an overview of the key findings of a research project dedicated to the impact of solidarity cooperatives on social cohesion and will focus on solidarity co‐operatives evolving in the health care sector. A set of recommendations concludes the chapter. 
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Document Type: Review Article

Publication date: 01 January 2009

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