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Catalyzing worker co-ops & the solidarity economy

A Chat about the Social Economy with Beatrice Alain

In 1995, following the near-success of Quebec’s second independence referendum, that province’s government fell into an economic crisis, partly because its separatism was perceived as making loans risky.

The Quebec government responded by bringing together the major actors—business, labor, civil society—in order to collaborate on a way forward. As Beatrice Alain describes it, “we came together, as we typically do in Quebec. We have that ‘we’.”

The labor unions, for example, wanted to use their pension funds in order to invest in the broader economy, a way of becoming an economic actor—by helping to develop, not just defending their own. Other voices were from the emerging women’s movement which had its own agenda, along with the neighborhood revitalization groups and others.

Alain was a college student when this coalition produced a new umbrella organization called the Chantier de l’economie sociale. (The word chantier in French refers to a construction site.) Today she serves as director general of the Chantier, the apex organization of the social economy in Quebec.

Read the rest and listen to the interview at Solidarity Hall


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