The Co-operative Union of Saskatchewan (CUS) began in 1940-1941 as the Saskatchewan Section of the Co-operative Union of Canada (CUC). The Saskatchewan Section incorporated on May 15, 1944 as the Co-operative Union of Saskatchewan under the Saskatchewan Co-operative Associations Act (SS 1944 s 47). The founding members were the Moosomin Co-operative Association Limited; the Sherwood Co-operative Association Limited; the Bulyea Community Co-operative Association Limited; the Moose Jaw Consumers' Co-operative Association Limited; and the Ukrainian Co-operative Association Limited, with McD. Rankin serving as first president and E.F. Scharf as secretary.
Membership in the CUS was open to any co-operative association incorporated within Canadian legislation; any federation of credit unions; and any mutual society with powers similar to that of a co-operative association or a credit union. This included consumer, producer, financial, insurance, service and educational co-operatives and credit unions.
The CUS was administered by a board of directors elected from the membership at the annual meeting; by executive officers selected by the board of directors; and by office staff whose services could be made available to the membership. The CUS executive included a President, Vice-President, Executive Secretary, and Public Relationship Officer. Until 1945, the CUS operated with part-time staff, but increased membership and demand for expanded services resulted in permanent staff. As membership grew, district federations were established across the province to better represent local interests and handle issues that could be resolved without the involvement of the CUS central governance. In 1960, the CUS was re-organized on a district basis, with the composition of the Board of Directors adjusted to include a representative from each federation or district and a few seats allocated for additional membership representatives.
The central purpose of the CUS was to encourage the education, development and maintenance of co-operatives in Saskatchewan. To achieve this objective the CUS conducted activities such as organizing, promoting and assisting co-op schools; promoting and advocating co-operative principles through local and province-wide meetings and talks by leaders in the co-operative movement; providing organizational, financial and legal advisory services to existing and developing co-operatives; printing, publishing, purchasing and making available materials supporting co-operative principles and practices; monitoring, preparing briefs and lobbying in response to legislation and regulations.
In 1955, following the amalgamation of the co-operative wholesales of Manitoba and Saskatchewan, a meeting was held with the boards of the International Co-operative Institute and the Co-operative Union of Saskatchewan; representatives of the Saskatchewan Department of Education and Department of Co-operation and Co-operative Development; the University of Saskatchewan and regional co-operatives, to discuss the need for organized education and training programs. At this meeting, the International Co-operative Institute changed its name to the Co-operative Institute and the Co-operative Union of Saskatchewan assumed directional responsibility for the Institute. Classes at the Institute began by October 1955. By 1959 its expanded program led the Co-operative Institute to incorporate and change its name to the Western Co-operative College.
In addition to the establishment of the College, the CUS continued its own education programs, providing guidance and supervisory assistance in local areas. Training sessions were co-sponsored with partners such as the Extension Department of the University of Saskatchewan, the provincial Department of Co-operation and Co-operative Development and the Saskatchewan Women's Co-operative Guild.
In August 1966, the Co-operative Union of Saskatchewan became known as the Co-operative Development Association (CDA). The emphasis for the organization changed from the education of co-operatives to the promotion of co-operative ideals and principles as well as the provision of leadership for the planning and development of co-operatives. The CDA was organized into sixteen districts each responsible for reviewing local co-operative development; for establishing district development programs; for coordinating education and for extension programs for members and non-members; and for developing and reviewing resolutions. Each district had a District Development Council and elected six delegates to the CDA. From these delegates, every two districts elected one Board of Director member. The Executive Committee (consisting of a president, two vice-presidents, and two additional members) was chosen by the Board.
In 1973-1974, the Co-operative Development Association was brought under the control of the Co-operative College of Canada. The College retained educational programming and promotion of co-operative development in Saskatchewan. In 1987, the Co-operative College of Canada merged with the Co-operative Union of Canada (CUC) and formed the Canadian Co-operative Association (CCA).
In 2003, the CCA, Saskatchewan Region was incorporated as its own community service co-operative under the name of Saskatchewan Co-operative Association (SCA). The SCA currently (2009) operates as a provincial coalition of co-operatives and credit unions responsible for the support of co-operative development and for the promotion of the co-operative model as a means of community economic development.