Monday, March 31, 2008

Social Economy Centre Meets with the Honorable Kathleen Wynne, Minister of Education of Ontario, to Discuss the Social Economy in High School Textbook

On March 28, 2008, Social Economy Centre members Jack Quarter, Laurie Mook, Daniel Schugurensky, Jan Haskings-Winner and Denyse Guy along with Andre Brisebois of Conseil de la Cooperation de l'Ontario (CCO) & Tanya Gracie of the Ontario Co-operative Association met with Ontario Minister of Education Kathleen Wynne to talk about the presence of the social economy in high school curricula and textbooks. The presentation was based on two studies conducted in 1995 and 2005 on this topic. The two studies found that the social economy has a significant presence in Canada and Ontario, but such presence was under-represented significantly in curricula and textbooks. The Social Economy Centre expressed concerns about this situation, and asked that in the next curricula revisions this matter will be addressed. The Minister planned to follow up with her staff and her office will get back to us regarding the next steps.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Announcing the first ever searchable database of Ontario co-ops, credit unions and caisses populaires

On Co-op launches first-ever online and searchable directory of co-ops, credit unions and caisses populaires operating in Ontario. We're calling it the e-directory.

Check it out at http://www.coopsontario.com .

The e-directory is publicly accessible and fully searchable by name, city, keyword and postal code. It features basic contact information and detailed descriptions. A handy feature is the ability to display a Google map for each location. E-mail addresses are never revealed, which helps eliminate spamming - instead a contact window appears, and a security code must be entered.

Government, the public and academics can use the e-directory to see what co-ops are in their community, what products or services are provided by co-ops, and to contact a co-op if they choose. The co-op sector, credit union system and co-operative champions can use the e-directory to find out more about their "co-op cousins".

We recommend every co-op, credit union and caisse populaire check its own listing as soon as possible, as well as search for other co-ops by city, keyword or name to understand how the e-directory works. We anticipate the directory will very quickly evolve into a central hub for accessing co-op information and we would like to ensure the best possible experience for anyone looking for co-op information.

*** PLEASE CHECK YOUR LISTING(s) FOR...

1. Contact information. Are the correct co-op name, address, phone (local and toll-free) and fax numbers displayed? Check to make sure the e-mail address and website links are valid and go to the correct person/department in your organization. Verify that the Google mapping function correctly identifies your address. If you have more than one location, check each one for accuracy.

2. Description. The keyword search looks here, as well as at your name. Words core to your business should be here (examples - fair trade, banking services, organic, dairy, housing, energy, child care, etc). This isn't a listing of all of your products, but allows people who view the description a useful glimpse into your business. The description field is 50 words maximum and must be in sentence/paragraph format.

3. Category. Confirm that your organization is listed in the correct category(s).


UPDATING THE INFORMATION...

1. INCOMPLETE, MISSING OR INCORRECT INFORMATION; ORGANIZATION NOT LISTED (INCLUDING MAIN, BRANCH OR SATELLITE OFFICES); OR ORGANIZATION TO BE REMOVED FROM THE LISTING: Click on the "Contact Us" button. One of the choices available from that screen is to update your information. Please provide us with all the details, including what should be changed. We will receive the message, confirm the information and make the changes to our database, generally within 1-2 business days. On Co-op has an e-directory review board to review each addition/deletion/change before it is uploaded to the e-directory to ensure we are adding the correct information.

2. If you have questions or suggestions about the e-directory program/interface itself, send your thoughts to us using the "Contact Us" button. We will continue to enhance the look and functionality of the e-directory over the next few weeks, and your input is important.

3. Where did the information initially come from? We've been updating our records for the last few months, and been checking other publicly available sources to make sure we haven't missed listing any co-operative, credit union or caisse populaire that is based in, or operates in, Ontario. IF WE HAVE, PLEASE LET US KNOW!!

On Co-op has created, and will operate and maintain the e-directory. As each co-op reviews and updates its information, the e-directory will become larger and even more accurate. Remember that there is no one organization or government agency in Ontario that has ever compiled this type of information on ALL of Ontario's co-operatives, credit unions and caisses populaires in one place before.


SPREAD THE WORD...

• Please forward this e-mail to others in your networks, and include the information in your print and electronic communications. The more people and organizations that know about the e-directory, the larger and more accurate it can become.

• Associations, federations and alliances are encouraged to send this message to all of their members so that as many individuals and organizations as possible can verify the directory information. If you operate an intranet, blog or RSS feed, consider placing a link to the e-directory there.

• Please include a link to the e-directory on your website (perhaps on your home page or co-op contacts/links page). You may use this text, or feel free to create your own:

Ontario is home to more than 1,300 credit unions, caisses populaires and co-operatives, operating in over 1,900 locations throughout the province. The Ontario Co-operative Association (On Co-op) maintains a searchable electronic database of Ontario's co-operatives, credit unions and caisses populaires at www.coopsontario.com.


NEXT STEPS

The co-op sector will have about a week to review and verify the information before the information goes to the media. We will be sending a press release to all major media, scheduled for the week of March 17th. At that time, we expect a great deal of interest from the public, including academics, government and others.

Visit www.coopsontario.com to access the e-directory. Please review your listing as soon as you can.

** Please forward to others in your network... including your board, staff, committee members, champions, supporters and friends. Co-operative information is best shared! If this message didn't come directly from On Co-op, you may be added to our e-newsletter distribution list by sending your contact information to Mark Ventry mventry@ontario.coop If you'd like to receive our printed mailings (sent January and September), please send us your mailing address.