Resolving Co-operative Complaints

The Co-operative Corporations Act [New Window] is designed to permit co-operatives to operate under democratic processes.

Board of Directors

If you have a concern or complaint about a co-operative that you have been unable to resolve, put it in writing and send it to the co-operative’s board of directors and request a response in writing. The board will decide whether a member may speak at a board meeting.
If you are not satisfied with the board’s response, write them again and ask to have the matter put on the agenda of the next members’ meeting. At the meeting, you can ask the members to decide if the co-operative followed its by-laws or rules and policies. The co-operative’s membership elects the board of directors and the membership has the power to remove directors.

Calling a Members’ Meeting

If the board won’t put your matter on the agenda of a members’ meeting, you may call a members’ meeting, if five percent of members agree. It’s called requisitioning a members’ meeting. Members of a co-operative may requisition the directors to call a members’ meeting on a matter that is connected with the co-operative’s affairs. (See sections 79 and 80 of the Co-operative Corporations Act.)
If the directors don’t hold the meeting within 30 days of receiving the requisition, a member who signed the requisition may call the meeting within 60 days of the date the co-operative received the requisition. It is also possible to ask a court to order a members’ meeting.

Ask your Co-operative Association for Help

If your co-operative is a member of a co-operative association, you may be able to ask the association for assistance in resolving the issue. If you’re not sure if your co-operative is part of an association or you need help finding an appropriate resource, contact:
Ontario Co-operative Association
30 Douglas Street
Guelph, ON N1H 2S9
Tel: (519) 763-8271
Fax: (519) 763-7239
Toll free: 1-888-745-5521
Website: [New Window]
Le Conseil de la coopération de l'Ontario
435, St-Laurent Blvd, office 201
Ottawa (Ontario), K1K 2Z8
Tel: (613) 745-8619
Fax: (613) 745-4649
Toll-Free: 1-866-290-1168
Website: [New Window]

Non-profit Housing Co-operative

If the dispute concerns occupancy and termination of occupancy in a non-profit housing co-operative, please refer to sections 171.1 to 171.25 of the Co-operative Corporations Act. These sections provide a self-contained code that deals with members’ occupancy rights and the process for terminating occupancy. The process provides for a hearing before the board of directors, an appeal of the board’s decision to the members at a members’ meeting, and a further review by a court. As the Co-operative Corporations Act provides this self-contained code, the Superintendent of Financial Services at FSCO does not get involved in these cases.
For assistance, contact:
Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada at the Ontario Region office
720 Spadina Avenue, Suite 313
Toronto, ON, Canada M5S 2T9
Tel: (416) 366-1711
Fax: (416) 366-3876
Toll-Free: 1-800-268-2537
Website: [New Window]

Getting Legal Advice

For legal advice on the interpretation or application of the Co-operative Corporations Act or matters relating to a co-operative’s bylaws, seek advice from a lawyer familiar with the Act. If you’re concerned that your co-operative is violating the Act, you may seek legal advice on what steps can be taken, including whether to bring the matter to court. Please note that the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO) does not provide this advice.

If an Investigation is Needed

At an annual meeting or at a general meeting called for that purpose, the members can, by passing a resolution, appoint an inspector to investigate the co-operative’s affairs and management. A member of the co-operative can also ask a court to appoint an inspector. Please see sections 146 and 147 of the Co-operative Corporations Act. If you suspect fraud or dishonesty, you can also ask the police to conduct an investigation.
Fax: (416) 590-7070
Market Regulation Branch
Financial Services Commission of Ontario
5160 Yonge Street, Box 85
Toronto ON M2N 6L9
Telephone: 416-250-7250
Toll free: 1-800-668-0128
TTY: 1-800-387-0584