A funeral cooperative is an association of persons who organize to meet their needs by means of a funeral enterprise. The members are the collective owners of the cooperative. Power is exercised democratically by the general meeting of members and the elected administrators.
Funeral cooperatives are born out of the desire of the community. They operate for us and with us, in our community.
It is not necessary to be a member to take advantage of the cooperative's services. However, membership status permits each member to take part in decisions affecting the major directions of the enterprise. Members are offered discounts and supplementary services. The cooperative format is a guarantee of the quality of our commitment and our services.
The cooperatives strive to meet the needs of bereaved families, whatever their budget. They stand apart by virtue of their humane approach, and endeavour to meet the needs of members and non-members alike in a manner respectful of the values of solidarity, mutual assistance and integrity.
For funeral cooperatives, the needs of members and non-members are not limited to funeral services alone. Cooperatives strive at all times to fulfil their information and education role. In responding to the wide variety of requests from their members, they lead people to think about and decide in advance on the kind of support they want, encourage discussions in families to break down the taboos surrounding death, provide legal and financial information, offer support in bereavement, and educate the public about cooperation.
A strong and extensive network
Collectively owned by over 170,000 members in Québec, the 23 funeral cooperatives in our movement are recognized for their humane and professional approach. These cooperatives can be found all over Québec.
With over 100 service points, the funeral cooperatives help to keep the cost of funeral services down, so that the added value created by the funeral sector enriches the community and remains locally owned. Considered as a network, the cooperatives in fact represent the largest stakeholder in the industry in terms of number of points of service, are acquiring an increasingly large market share – 13.7% in 2006 – and own assets of close to $125 million.
Every year, more and more families place their trust in funeral cooperatives, as a result of which they perform more funerals than any other component of the industry.
The cooperatives: owned by their members
Cooperatives have traditionally increased their market shares thanks to a better price-quality ratio, recruitment, renovation of existing buildings, and construction of new funeral homes. Since 1995, however, the acquisition of private funeral enterprises has been the cornerstone of the cooperatives' development strategy for dealing with the arrival of foreign multinationals.
Since 1993, private companies in the Eastern Townships, on the Lower St. Lawrence and Upper North Shore, in Saguenay―Lac-Saint-Jean, in Mauricie and in the Lanaudière region have been bought out by funeral cooperatives. These companies, which handle a total of more than 1,200 deaths, probably would have been taken over by American multinationals had it not been for the intervention of the cooperatives.
The administrators' code of ethics
Ethics is a set of fundamental values to be used as a guide to conduct in interpersonal relations, quality of client services, and individual responsibility for the objectives of the member cooperatives of the Federation. Our movement has therefore adopted a code of ethics so that each person is accountable under rules of transparency, integrity and professionalism in the exercise of his or her functions. This code of ethics applies to all directors, administrators and employees of the member cooperatives. It defines the lead principles that are to guide the rules chosen to govern all actions of every cooperator in the movement in the course of his or her activities.
The ultimate goal of cooperation is to improve living conditions. Every cooperative activity is therefore directly inspired by service to people and their community, which is perceived as the source and purpose of the economy. Hence the members of the Federation support the basic principles of cooperation and agree to subject all of their actions and activities to certain rules that are consistent with the basic orientations of cooperative thinking. Out of concern for greater respect for the persons it is their mission to serve, they also agree to subject their actions to the strictest standards prevailing in their field of activity, namely the field of funeral services.