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It is imperative that government leaders leverage Community Benefit Agreements to create local workforce and business opportunities for Black and Indigenous peoples, women, persons with disabilities, veterans, youth and newcomers. Commitment to infrastructure, employment, and improved outcomes for diverse communities must go hand in hand.

SIGNATORIES: Toronto Community Benefits Network, Toronto & York Region Labour Council, TAIBU Community Health Centre, Urban Alliance on Race Relations, IBEW Local 353, Social Economy Through Social Inclusion (SETSI), Toronto Environmental Alliance, LIUNA Local 506 Training Centre, Insulators Local 95, Somali Workers' Network, Atkinson Foundation, United Way Greater Toronto, United Way Centraide Windsor Essex, Metcalf Foundation, The Canadian CED Network (CCEDNET), Buy Social Canada, Carpenters Local 27, Ironworkers District Council of Ontario, Labour Education Centre 

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May 28, 2020

ATTENTION

To: Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, Honourable Catherine Mckenna
To: Minister of Public Services and Procurement, Honourable Anita Anand
To: Office of the Prime Minister, Honourable Justin Trudeau 
 
CC: Minister of Finance, Honourable Bill Morneau
CC: President of Treasury Board, Honourable Jean Yves Duclos
CC: Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Honourable Carla Qualtrough
CC: Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Honourable Irek Kusmierczyk
CC: Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson
CC: Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages, Honourable Melanie Joly
CC: Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth, Honourable Bardish Chagger
CC: Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, Honourable Ahmed Hussen

CC: Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Honourable Marco Mendicino

SUBJECT: Strengthening inclusive local economies through community benefits

Thank you for the efforts of your office and the federal government in responding to the Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. We applaud policies and programs that help ensure Canadians are safe and have access to income security, health and social supports during this crisis.

With Covid-19 crisis recovery planning underway, we are writing to encourage the federal government to remain steadfast in its commitment to integrate and expand community benefit expectations in publicly funded infrastructure projects.

These approaches to infrastructure investments contribute to the federal government’s environmental, economic and social policy objectives, while delivering world class infrastructure projects. Policies like the Community Employment Benefits (CEB) program are a valuable tool to create local workforce and business opportunities for Indigenous peoples, women, persons with disabilities, veterans, youth and newcomers. We also support initiatives like the Better Buying Plan (led by PSPC) which focuses on the participation of small, medium and social enterprises in federal procurement and through supply chain diversity requirements on large infrastructure projects.

We were disappointed to recently see the dismissal by certain construction and engineering firms of Community Benefits Agreements (CBAs) and the livelihoods they support. Most corporate leaders today understand that “Diversity and Inclusion” is a key strategy for future success, as well as an essential component of corporate social responsibility[1]. CBAs have been proven in many jurisdictions to increase much needed local labour supply and strengthen diversity within the industry, responding to key contractor concerns.[2]

In Canada, all levels of governments have adopted CBAs as essential building blocks to creating the inclusive economy that Canada stakes its reputation on. (See samples below)

As a country, Canada will need an “all hands on deck” commitment to recover from this unprecedented, global pandemic, by building a “new normal” economy that fosters an equitable, more diverse, skilled workforce with a laser focus on addressing the climate emergency through low-carbon infrastructure projects, built with community input to ensure we maximize human potential and public resources.

Together as partners with a common vision to address the enormous challenges of the post Covid-19 economy, we welcome the opportunity to meet with you and your officials to discuss how we can strengthen the vitally needed collaboration across sectors to achieve these objectives.

Sincerely, The Toronto Community Benefits Network

APPENDIX

Community Benefits Samples from Across Canada

Metrolinx Eglinton Crosstown, Finch West and Hurontario LRT (Ontario) - 162 targeted apprenticeships hiring, 170+ professional, administrative and technical (PAT) hiring from targeted groups to date, $6M+ supporting local businesses and social enterprise, innovative clean energy backup power generator (Eglinton project)[3]

Gordie Howe Bridge, Windsor (Ontario) - Partnership between Bridging North America, State of Michigan and Government of Canada which includes a community benefits plan (Local workforce hiring, apprenticeships and training, investments in community benefits and local neighbourhood infrastructure)[4]

British Columbia Infrastructure Benefits (BC) – Pattullo Bridge Replacement Project, Highway 1, and Broadway Subway Project are BCIB projects providing access to career building apprenticeships for Indigenous people, women and people with disabilities.[5]

AECON Joint Venture with Indigenous Communities - Joint Ventures and partnerships with Indigenous owned enterprises and includes a 360° strategy which focuses on training and apprenticeships, employment and sustainable business development[6]

Casino Woodbine Expansion - CBA between City of Toronto and One Toronto Gaming, includes hard targets for local and equity hiring, apprenticeships and training, social procurement and $5M for child care centre[7]

Municipal Community Benefits Policies - City of Toronto Community Benefits Framework (2019)[8], York Region Community Benefits Framework (2019)[9], Vancouver Community Benefits Agreement Policy (2018)[10], Calgary Social Procurement Policy (2018)[11]

FOOTNOTES

[2] A recent 2020 contractor survey completed by the Ontario Construction Secretariat (OCS) highlighted that the biggest concern amongst Industrial, Commercial and Institutional (ICI) contractors was recruiting skilled workers (74%) while meeting community benefits expectations on public infrastructure contracts was of minimal concern (20%).

[11] https://momentum.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/Social-Procurement-for-Calgary.pdf