A Canadian non-profit co-operative is a legally incorporated independent association of people who come together to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs through a jointly owned and democratically controlled enterprise. In other words, it’s an independently run business governed by democratic principles that provides goods or services to a community of people with a common need.
In our case, My Health Information Co-op is a social business helping people access and control their personal health information while providing much-needed financial support to non-profit patient support groups. As a co-op, we are governed by internationally accepted co-op principles and values.
All co-op profits go into charitable causes and to maintain our non-profit status we don’t offer our members rebate. Our Articles of Incorporation dictate how our Board of Directors must exercise their power in good faith and with a view to the best interests of the members.
Member Shares and Co-op Equity
When you become a My Health Information Co-op member, what you pay for your membership becomes equity to the co-op. Member equity represents the member’s financial participation in the development and operation of the co-op. What members choose to pay when joining the co-op is a type of loan made to the co-op and refunded when a membership ends.
Key Co-op Principles in Action
- Ownership: We are jointly owned by our members (patients) and health service providers (organizations) who use our services. Organizations active in the delivery of Health care services financially support the co-op by the purchase of an organizational membership and sometimes as co-op customers.
- Governance: we follow a “one-member-one-vote” principle. Members exercise their right to vote directly for the Board of Directors as well as sponsoring resolutions at the co-op’s Annual General Meeting. This democratic governance structure is cemented by the co-operative’s by-laws under which it was incorporated.
- Distribution of profits: Any surplus from our business activities is owned by the members who decide how to distribute the profits at the Annual General Meeting. Members help choose how much profit is allocated for future investment into services and how much is distributed to charitable organizations, such as patient support groups.
Our Values In Practise
Co-operatives are built based on the values of democracy, equality, self-help, solidarity, self-responsibility, and equity. Co-op members believe in the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility, and caring for others.
Read below to learn how the universally accepted co-operative principles guide our values and how we practice them in the operation of My Health Information Co-op.
- Voluntary and Open Membership
Membership is voluntary, non-discriminatory and open to organizations and anyone able to use the services and willing to accept membership responsibilities.
- Democratic Member Control
Our co-op is democratically controlled by our members, who we encourage to actively participate in setting policies and making decisions. Members serving as elected representatives are accountable to the membership. Members have equal voting rights – one member, one vote.
- Member Economic Participation
Through their purchase of a membership, members contribute, according to their means, to the equity capital of the co-op. Members help allocate financial surpluses towards the goal of supporting patient support groups
- Autonomy and Independence
Our co-operative is an independent organization controlled by our members. We are not beholden to government, vendors, customers or funders. We enter into agreements with other organizations as customers and to raise capital. We do so on terms that ensure democratic control by our membership and which maintain our co-op’s autonomy.
- Education, Training, and Information
Our co-op provides education and training for members, elected representatives, and staff so they can contribute effectively to the development of our co-op. We take steps to inform the general public – particularly young people and opinion leaders – about the nature and benefits of co-operation and civil engagement in democracy.
- Co-operation Among Co-operatives
Co-operatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the co-operative movement by working together at the local, national, regional, and international levels. We actively pursue and maintain collaborations with other Canadian co-ops.
- Concern for Community
You are our biggest concern. We work for improved health outcomes of the communities we serve through policies approved by our members.
Raise individuals’ awareness and knowledge of the use and relevance of health records for better health outcomes while safeguarding member information control and custody, confidentiality, privacy and security.
We’re here to help members protect and use their health record history to support diagnosis and treatment for better individuals and population health outcomes.