It’s no secret that the community sector in Quebec is dogged with high employee turnover, slowing project momentum and putting a strain on groups’ HR capacity. Many community workers, torn between their desire to work and act in collective solidarity and contribute to the common good, and rising pressures on family and health with advancing age, opt for better stability and benefits in the institutional or business sector, to the detriment of community groups who are left dealing with an exodus of talented and competent employees.
Enter the Centre de Formation Populaire (CFP) and Relais-Femmes, who in 2005 published a report entitled “Pour que travailler dans le communautaire ne rime plus avec misère” compiling research and statistics around working conditions within community groups and surveying their interest in having better and more accessible social benefits. The answer was a resounding yes, along with a call for more government support to create more competitive working conditions and facilitate retention. 2008 saw a historic first step towards this goal : the launch of the Régime de retraite des groupes communautaires et de femmes, a collective retirement plan specially adapted to the needs and realities of community sector workers. COCo is among the more than 500 community groups that have adhered to this plan, about which we also hosted a free workshop last year.
A new initiative is now set to build on these advances, which would see the development of a collective health and life insurance plan specifically tailored by and for Quebec-based community groups. Dubbed the ACOCQ, or Assurance collective pour les organismes communautaires du Québec, and supported by TNCDC, RQ-ACA, SACAIS, Relais-Femmes and Services aux collectiviés UQAM, the nascent project has already undergone a participative consultation process via a provincial tour through 17 regions, to a favourable response. Materials from that tour can be downloaded here.
Although the official foundation of the non-profit organization that would administer the ACOCQ is still to come, the field is now open for Quebec community groups to pledge their support for this initiative by signing up on their website, thus declaring their intent to take part in this collective plan when it becomes operational. The more inscriptions they receive, the faster they will be able to start offering coverage.
Note that health insurance, such as that offered by ACOCQ, is entirely optional for community groups, and is usually not offered due to the high cost and lack of community-friendly policies. It is not the same as liability insurance, which is mandatory for all provincially-registered groups and must be covered with a separate policy (We recommend that offered by the Union de Municipalités du Québec, geared towards Quebec-based non-profits).
For more information on the ACOCQ, check their website or the documents below (in French only). For more information on the UMQ liability insurance, please contact them to find out whether you are eligible.