Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Honourable Keith Hutchings Address on Co-operatives
Honourable Keith Hutchings
Minister of Innovation, Business and Rural Development
March 12, 2012
Co-operatives Contributing to Community and Business Development
Mr. Speaker, in Newfoundland and Labrador, we are home to some well-established co-operatives that have contributed greatly to community and business development. We are also home to newer co-operatives that hold tremendous promise.In southern Labrador, when the Bank of Montreal withdrew its operations, residents stepped-up, mobilized their resources, and formed the Eagle River Credit Union. It was a collective effort that ensured that the delivery of financial services would continue and today it has accumulated more than $79 million in assets.By pooling valuable resources so that it could better access equipment and expertise, the Newfoundland Independent Filmmakers Co-operative has helped grow the sector to $30 million – up from $2 million a decade ago. More recently, Seed to Spoon has emerged as a co-operative that sells locally-grown produce to restaurants, residents, and the St. John’s Farmer Market. It is proving to be a positive relationship among co-operatives, local farmers, and community members, directly linking products with consumers. In January, I accompanied representatives from local co-operatives at the Canadian launch of the International Year of Co-operatives. Just last week, I was pleased to join several local co-operatives in formally proclaiming 2012 as the Year of Co-operatives in Newfoundland and Labrador. As a government, we view co-operatives as being integral in community and economic development. Co-operatives serve a key role in developing industry sectors and addressing market demands. In the coming weeks, the Provincial Government will be renewing its Memorandum of Understanding with the Newfoundland-Labrador Federation of Co-operatives. We want to build off the progress made from our 2007 agreement, which positioned this province as a leader in Canada for our working relationship with the provincial co-operative business association. Mr. Speaker, the door is open to further strengthen and develop co-operatives. This MOU is one important step in that process. Co-operatives are good for communities, they are good for industry growth, and they are good for the province. Over the course of 2012, I encourage all members of this Honourable house to join in celebrating the value of co-operatives in their own districts.