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Saint-Anicet Municipality

Social economy month: a unique business model to discover this November!


Social Economy Month everywhere in Quebec!

It is November 2020. It has already been more than 230 days since a public health emergency was declared in Quebec and throughout the world, that’s 7 months and then some.

This exceptional situation has forced us into our last refuge, our homes, cut off physically from the outside world. This situation has required that we continue to meet our basic needs for survival. Some may remember a course in high school where our fundamental needs as human beings were discussed. The three fundamental needs to ensure our survival include the ability to feed, cloth, and house ourselves. Such basic needs are generally ensured by our level of economic development and numerous businesses. But this is especially true for a certain business model that stands out in this respect. At the heart of the economy functioning around us, there are a number of businesses organized around a distinct social economy model.

What is Social Economy?

The social economy is a unique business model that promotes the realization of fundamental societal objectives. I would go so far as to argue that social economy businesses act, in a sense, as a shield against the uncertainties and hazards in life. When you remove the traditional, liberal businesses from a region, a resilient social economy will continue to thrive. The current crisis is proof of this.

  • For example, the food we eat is often provided by Quebec-based cooperatives.
  • Social economy businesses also serve as a defense against the degradation of our environment as they are often guided by principles of sustainable development, which are more and more in demand by consumers.
  • For example, friperies and second-hand stores recover an exceptional number of tonnes of textiles which would otherwise wind up in landfills.
  • Finally, the social economy model can confront the astronomical rise in the cost of housing by creating economies of scale by bringing people together to counter issues such as social housing through the creation of cooperative or collective housing organizations.

I recently watched the documentary “Capitalism in the 21st Century”. The film was particularly moving as it dealt with issues that our society is currently experiencing. As humans, we have reached a stage in our development, similar to that of the horse, for example, during the industrial revolution. We are on the cusp of an era where we can free ourselves from the mass production of goods to support our existence. We have achieved an economic maturity where we can ensure out three basic needs are met through our own self-sufficiency within our region.

We have the opportunity to build a new economic era, based on our essential and primary needs to ensure our quality of life. We are still a long way from achieving this, as inequalities still exist throughout the province. At the same time, we know one type of business in particular is working first and foremost to counter social inequality: social economy businesses.

The social economy is an economic model that aims to improve our livelihood: the ability to feed, cloth, house, and care for ourselves as self-sufficient and active beings committed to creating a better life.

Several examples of this type of economic model exist here, in the Montérégie-West. It’s up to you to discover them!

Olivier Doyle
Director General
Pôle d’économie sociale Vallée-du-Haut-Saint-Laurent

Mois Economie Sociale