Eric Simard - Recipient of the Quebec Cooperative and Mutualist Merit Award 2023. - CDRQ

Eric Simard – Recipient of the Quebec Cooperative and Mutualist Merit Award 2023.

August 305 minutes of reading
Every year since 1948, the Quebec Council of Cooperation and Mutualism presents several
Quebecois individuals with the Cooperative and Mutualist Merit Award. This
year, Mr. Éric Simard is among the laureates. 

The Order of Merit is the recognition of the significant contribution of the 16 laureates. These are divided
into four levels – the fourth being the highest – and Mr. Simard stands out in this category.

Involved for several years with the Regional Development Cooperative of Quebec (CDRQ) as a board member and
chairman of the board, Mr. Simard has numerous achievements worth highlighting.

From local to international involvement

Firstly, let’s mention his involvement with SOCODEVI in South and Central
America, where he participated in three missions supporting local cooperatives.

At the provincial level, Mr. Simard served as a board member and officer, particularly in a health and safety
prevention mutual and at CDRQ. In Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, he was a board member in a group of regional forest
cooperatives, part of a northern agriculture excellence cluster, a Community Development Assistance Service (SADC),
and prior to 2016, in the regional CDR.

In his local area, specifically in the municipality of Ferland-Boileau, Mr. Simard was involved with a cooperative
blueberry farm, the municipal council, and a tourist resort.

Finally, Mr. Simard served as the administrative/general director for 25 years at the local forest cooperative.

Remarkable Achievements

Throughout his career, Mr. Simard has accomplished a great deal and remains actively involved in the Quebec
cooperative movement to this day.


On the international stage, he participated in three missions in South and Central America (two in Honduras and one
in Peru) during his tenure with SOCODEVI. During these missions, he collaborated
with local collective managers in implementing financial management tools. This assistance enabled them, among other
things, to preserve their capital in the long term, strategically plan their development, and adequately manage
dividends to members without jeopardizing their finances.

The financial management and governance advice provided to cooperatives in South and Central America significantly
improved their long-term performance. In fact, during a mission in Peru, his swift action to restore the finances of
a coffee/cocoa producer cooperative saved them from technical bankruptcy, ultimately safeguarding the work and
incomes of the 400 member producer families.

In the Forestry Industry

At a time when the Quebec Federation of Forestry Cooperatives had fewer
employees, he supported the human resources dedicated resource within the organization in some of its mandates with
other cooperatives. This collaboration enabled them to find solutions to their human resource or governance issues.

Moreover, his interest in the individuals comprising his industry led him to serve on the Sectoral Committee of Labor in Forestry Management to support skill
development in this sector, benefiting the entire Quebec forestry ecosystem.

His involvement of over 25 years in the Ferland-Boilleau Forest Cooperative
undoubtedly had numerous impacts on the local population, considering that the cooperative is the main employer in
the municipality. Additionally, his work on wood diversification and valourization with Groupe Boréaressources led
him to collaborate, among others, with academic researchers from the La Sève laboratory at the University of Quebec
in Chicoutimi. This resulted in the creation of numerous products
based on essential oils
used in cosmetics, as well as the valourization of certain by-products of the
forestry industry, notably bark.


As the Chairman of the Board of the CDR Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, he, along with some of his colleagues from other
CDRs, initiated the discussions leading to the creation of CDRQ in 2016. Several years later, still as the chairman,
but now of the CDRQ board, he actively supported the management when implementing significant internal changes to
more actively meet the expectations of the Governmental Action Plan in social economy and the new realities of user
members emerging from the pandemic. These changes are now fully integrated at all levels of the cooperative.

Dans le domaine agricole

Over the past two years, he has developed the workforce aspect at Coop de solidarité Le Relait by actively recruiting
substitutes to support agricultural producers benefiting from the cooperative’s services. It was a challenge that
many stakeholders thought was nearly impossible to overcome when the cooperative was created.

His management work
with Coop le Relait
generates impacts far beyond the cooperative itself. Indeed, studies and numerous
articles highlight significant psychological distress among
. However, by accelerating the recruitment of new substitutes and producers likely to use the
cooperative’s services, he gives farmers a unique chance to take time for themselves and their families. Some have
even been able to take long vacations, a first for many of them.

A Select Group

Mr. Simard’s involvement stands out, but it is not unique. Indeed, the Order recognizes the work of several
individuals that CDRQ also wishes to acknowledge and congratulate. Without them, collective values and cooperation
would not be as vibrant and dynamic. Congratulations to all the laureates!

Maxime St-Laurent Director of Communications, Member Services, and Partnerships