Reba PlummerReba Plummer

What does governance look like in your organization?

I am involved in the governance of three co-ops; Urbane Cyclist Worker Co-op, the Canadian Worker Co-op Federation(CWCF), and The Co-operators.

In the Worker co-op, governance is formalized yet informal. It is often difficult to know which hat one needs to be wearing when making a decision as roles and responsibilities are intermingled.

At CWCF we have transitioned from an operations board to a governance board. With the help of the ED and staff we have developed strong oversight policies and procedures.

The Co-operators has strong, formalized governance practises including regular education sessions. In the fall we had an excellent session on the role and duties of directors. We reviewed the importance of good faith, that good faith requires diligence and how much diligence is enough. We discussed dual director duties (almost all directors at The Co-operators serve on their member board of directors). The dilemma of candor vs confidentiality – a director may not remain silent when information is materially relevant even if it is protected by confidentiality – the duty of candor clashes with the duty of confidentiality. Most importantly we discussed the notably increased board duties under the new OFSI Corporate Governance Guideline including: not just Approve strategy but Approve and Oversee and not just Review and Discuss Operational Policies but Provide Challenge, Advice and Guidance to Senior Management.


Does the ‘Model for Good Governance’ accurately capture governance in most organizations?

In theory this captures governance but in reality there is a lot of overlap of the different groups and the flow of accountability and empowerment are not equal. Accountability is often pushed down ultimately to the staff. The same way that empowerment often stays with the owners. The people with the money (ownership) have the power and the people doing the work have little say (empowerment).


What did you think about the governance structure of the Diefenbaker Clinic? What challenges might an organization like this encounter?

Strategic miss – not serving (all) the folks the clinic was created for. This is a blind spot for the board.

The organization may encounter restricted funding if it is not serving the whole community. Competing organizations may spring up and take on some of their work, They may become irrelevant if they do not serve their members.


“I thoroughly enjoyed the Good Governance Matters course offered by Co-operatives First. The course provided a solid background on governance generally and specific examples of good governance practices in co-operatives. It is uncommon to find governance training specific to co-operatives so this was refreshing.”

Janet Taylor (Corporate Secretary)

Libro Credit Union

“The Good Governance Matters Course was a valuable course. I shared it with the [Arctic Co-operatives Limited] Senior Leadership Team. If it ever comes up again, I highly recommend others to take it.”

Mary Nirlungayuk (Corporate Secretary and Vice-President, Corporate Services)

Arctic Co-operatives Limited

“The online course, Good Governance Matters was very informative, easy to navigate and discussed issues relevant to our needs as a Board of Directors. This course is a great tool for boards to build their knowledge to become strong, strategic boards.”

Lori Sanders (President)

Sherwood Co-op

“This course has greatly increased my understanding of what good governance could/should look like and how each part (boards, management, members) plays a vital role in the co-operative’s success.”


“This course was highly enjoyable, and relevant to working in not only the co-op space, but with any group that needs to make decisions.”