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Developmental Service Worker Cooperative Project: Algonquin College of Applied Arts and Technology

The project team proposed new Developmental Service Worker co-operatives as a means of offering flexible, efficient, community-based, person-directed supports to adults with developmental disabilities, wherever they choose to live, and on their own terms.

In Year 1 the process of establishing and managing worker cooperatives was assessed. After holding extensive community consultations, a feasibility report and learning materials were developed. The report identified the most promising business model for DSW cooperatives.  At this juncture, four Developmental Services Workers received business development support and began drafting their business plan (based on the feasibility study mentioned above). After a successful campaign the team was also awarded $15,000 in start-up funding through the William G. Davis Innovation competition. In Ottawa in the spring of 2018 they incorporated and launched their Developmental Services Worker Co-operative.

Perhaps the availability of worker cooperatives as a trusted service provider outside the agency system could encourage policy makers to make available more personalized direct funding solutions for individuals.                                                    ~Professor Laura Rogal-Black

In Year 2, training was provided to other DS workers interested in forming cooperatives focused on community-based, flexible supports to adults with developmental disabilities. A final report describes the potential for expansion of the project (beyond Ottawa, throughout the province), with recommendations to sustain ongoing training, and building community capacity through cooperative enterprises.

Overview of Outcomes

  • Community response to the initial launch of the DSW Co-operative Development Project was positive. The feasibility study was complete by January of 2017, and interested developmental services workers began receiving business development support shortly thereafter.
  • The DSW Co-operative was awarded $15,000 in start-up funding through the William G Davis Innovation fund competition, which also prompted positive media coverage of the initiative.
  • The DSW Co-operative was incorporated in the Spring of 2018 by the four developmental services workers who received business development support through this project. The DSW Co-operative then secured a Tenacity Works loan from the Canadian Worker Cooperative Federation.
  • The DSW Co-operative currently actively employs six developmental services workers, and seven additional workers are available to be matched with clients. As of mid-November, 2018, the DSW Co-op had earned over $17,000 through direct services offered to clients since its launch. The average number of service hours provided/week has been increasing steadily; in the first two weeks of November, 127 service hours were provided to clients by the DSW Co-operative.
  • Potential implications of the DSW Cooperative on housing decisions cannot yet be assessed; it is expected that the DSW Co-op will need time to continue to grow before it exerts significant influence on housing decisions.
  • The publication of resources to support this process is pending.

Additional Resources

Developmental Service Worker Cooperative Project website:

Project Contacts: 
Minda Bojin  |    
Laura Rogal-Black  |

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