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Saskatchewan Co-operative Association
Feb 10

Here are some common questions that SCA receives from or about co-operatives which are already in business.  If you are part of a working group examining co-operative incorporations, check out our co-op development pages

We need to change our co-operative’s bylaws. How do we do it?

Bylaw changes need to be agreed to by the members of your co-operative, unless your bylaws indicate that the board of directors can approve bylaw changes. Your existing bylaws may include some detail on bylaw changes, and Clauses 112-114 of the Saskatchewan Co-ops Act detail some of the information you’ll need to know. Bylaw changes are generally proposed at an annual or special meeting.

Once your co-operative has approved any bylaw changes, you will need to send a copy of the amended bylaws and a form into Information Services Corporation/the Corporate Registry. You can find the Bylaw form on this page: https://www.isc.ca/CorporateRegistry/Forms/Pages/Co-operatives-Act-Forms.aspx.

I have concerns with how my co-op’s board of directors is acting. What do I do / who can intervene?

Every co-operative is its own autonomous organization. Unless the board of directors is contravening the Co-op Act or otherwise breaking a law, the remedy to the issue must come from within your co-operative.

If the board of directors is contravening the Co-op Act, contact the Corporate Registry or the Registrar of Co-operatives (see also Clause 197 of the Co-op Act). If directors are breaking the law in some other way, contact local law enforcement authorities.

If the issue is not a legal issue, common steps to address these types of concerns would be:

  • First, express your concern to the board of directors.
  • If that does not produce the results you are hoping for, the next step would be to check in with other members of your co-operative to assess whether the issue is something that many members are concerned about, or if it is a matter that is more of a personal concern.
  • If the matter is not of concern to other members, you may need to consider whether it is a personal matter, and whether you wish to remain a member of the co-operative. If many members have similar concerns, the matter can be raised with the board of directors, either directly with them, or through a special meeting of the members that they must call if enough of the members request it (refer to Clause 104 in the Saskatchewan Co-operatives Act for the details on the requirements for directors to call a special meeting of the members).
  • If discussion at a special meeting does not resolve the issue, next steps would be carrying out removal of directors (see Clause 80 in the Co-op Act), or work to elect new directors at the next annual meeting.

The Government of Saskatchewan also provides a Fact Sheet detailing Dispute Resolution information for co-operatives.

Our co-operative is experiencing a conflict situation. Is there someone who can help us?

Depending on the situation, SCA may be able to assist, or link you up with someone who can help your co-operative work through a conflict situation.

If you are part of a housing co-operative:

The Government of Saskatchewan also provides a Fact Sheet detailing Dispute Resolution information for co-operatives.

Are my parents’ old ____ Co-op shares worth money?

Probably not. If the co-operative has been dissolved, the shares have no value. If the co-operative is still in operation, the shares may have some value – contact that co-op and ask. If the co-operative has become a public company, the co-operative shares don’t have value. However, if they were turned into shares in the public company, they would have value, but you would need the public company shares to be able to verify this.

We want to re-establish our co-operative, what kind of paperwork do we need to do?

It depends on whether your co-operative is still active on the Corporate Registry’s list of co-operatives, or whether your co-op has been struck from the Register. You will need to determine what your co-operative’s status is with the Corporate Registry, and then submit the appropriate paperwork to get re-established. The forms you will need to complete can be found here - scroll down to the “Maintain or Change Your Co-operative Information” section of the page. If you need more help, contact us.

Where can we access director training?

There are a few options to access director training. SCA may be able to provide director or governance training tailored to your group’s needs – contact us if you’d like a quote. We also have a series of webinars that may cover topics of interest.

Depending on the type of co-operative, there may be additional director training options that you can access: retail co-ops, housing co-ops, and credit unions all have director training and education program.

Ed.coop is a website that has a lot of great information, resources, tools, templates, webinars, etc. that are designed to assist with co-operative governance.

The Centre for the Study of Co-operatives also offers a free, online co-operative governance course.

I have been a member of a co-op for many years, and now I’ve reached the age that I should be paid out my co-op equity, I’m not getting the equity payments I thought I should. Why?

Contact your co-operative to find out why and what amount you can expect. Your annual equity statement will detail what your equity position is, so you can check that statement as well. Individual co-operatives may have different policies about equity payouts, so you’ll need to ask your co-operative about your co-op’s policies. Although co-operatives may be experiencing prosperous situations now, in past decades there were financial challenges or the co-op took on debt, and the amount of equity a co-op retained has been diminished. Another common situation is that the co-op member has taken small or large prior payouts of their equity, so there isn’t a larger lump sum still to be paid out..