BALTA - B.C.-Alberta Social Economy Research Alliance

Social Economy News

2010 National Smmit on a People-Centred Economy

National Summit on a People-Centred Economy Held in Ottawa – May 30 to June 1, 2010

“The continued expansion of a People-Centred Economy is essential to the construction of a more just, equitable and sustainable world.”

“We, the National Summit on a People-Centred Economy, which includes members of the co-operative, social and solidarity economy, social enterprise and community economic development movements, declare our determination and our commitment to building a people-centred economy.  Our organizations and networks – local, regional, provincial, national and international – are active participants and leaders in a common project to build sustainable communities that are based on the values of social justice, solidarity, economic fairness, environmental justice, inclusion and democracy.”

The above words begin the final declaration of the National Summit on a People-Centred Economy.  The summit, which took place recently in Ottawa, included around 350 participants from ten provinces and two territories in Canada and five continents internationally. Participants heard from a range of speakers and debated strategies for strengthening action towards a sustainable economy that puts people and the planet first.  BALTA was a co-sponsor of the summit along with nine other organizations.

Mike Lewis introduces Michael Ignatieff at the National Summit on a People-Centred Economy

Mike Lewis introduces Michael Ignatieff at the National Summit on a People-Centred Economy

The Summit focused on six themes, each of which were addressed by theme papers that had been developed and discussed in advance of the summit:

  1. 1. Finance and Investment
  2. 2. Enterprise Development
  3. 3. Local Revitalization
  4. 4. Organizing the Social Economy Marketplace
  5. 5. Strengthening the Movement
  6. 6. International

Workshops devoted to the six themes developed recommendations which were later ratified by the summit in plenary session.

Speakers from all elected parties in the House of Commons, including two Cabinet ministers and the Leader of the Opposition, brought significant messages of support and shared their views of the importance of a people-centred economy for revitalizing rural and urban Canada.  The summit was preceded by a workshop on applying a gender lens to the people-centred economy and women’s voices were prominent throughout the debates.

A joint declaration proposed by Summit organizers and debated by participants was approved and a large number of specific actions were announced in the closing plenary.

BALTA’s lead investigator, Mike Lewis, co-chaired the summit.  In summing up the significance of the summit, he stated:   “The National Summit was a modest but important step.  We have much to learn from and with each other in our sector.  Just as important, we must be sure to reach out to the many other constituencies working for a sane and decent transition to a very different kind of economy.  Labour, the environmental movement and the increasing numbers of progressive credit unions and triple bottom-line investors are among those we must engage with on a much more strategic basis.  It is a long road and we need to travel together.  Who knows?  It might be a shorter journey than I think.  The ferment for change is growing everywhere.  Convergence is happening.  People are taking systematic and positive action.  We must keep nourishing each other with inspiration, do the grinding work to reweave our economic life and celebrate the process.  It matters!!!”

See the National Summit's Final Declaration

See the National Summit's List of Recommendations


2010 Proclaimed International Year of Co-ops

by John Restakis

The United Nations General Assembly has proclaimed 2012 as the International Year of Co-operatives.  The year will provide co‐operators in Canada and around the world with an opportunity to promote the social and economic contributions of the co‐op sector.  Canada supported the resolution when it came before the General Assembly on December 18, 2009. On December 3, 2009 the Honourable Jean‐Pierre Blackburn, Minister of National Revenue and Minister of State for Agriculture, held a news conference in Ottawa announcing the federal government's support for the International Year.


Canadian Co-operative Association Awarded $1 Million to Study Impact of Co‐operatives on Community

by John Restakis

Canada's co‐operative sector, in partnership with four Canadian universities, has been awarded funding of $1 million over five years to conduct research on the impact of cooperatives.  The funds have been awarded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). The research that will be conducted through this new community-university research alliance (CURA) aims to examine the full impact of cooperatives on Canada's social, economic and environmental fabric, and demonstrate their value to Canadian communities.

CCA applied for the CURA in partnership with Saint Mary's University, the University of
Saskatchewan, the University of Victoria, and Mount Saint Vincent University, all of which are well known for their research on co-operatives and the social economy.  More than a dozen other co‐operative associations, co‐ops, credit unions and academic researchers will also participate in the CURA.

The CURA's research team, headed by Dr. Sonja Novkovic, professor of economics at Saint Mary's University, will create a network of national and regional research clusters that will develop measurement tools and study topics such as the nature of the "co‐operative difference" as it relates to social responsibility and accountability, the impact of member and employee participation on a co‐operative's performance and the role of credit unions in building wealth. Additional topics will examine infrastructure support for co‐operative development, how to replicate co‐operative innovation and co‐operative responses to
market failures.

For more information about the CURA, go to


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