Community benefits are additional physical, social and economic benefits for the local community that are leveraged by dollars already being spent, often on major infrastructure and land development projects
Benefits commonly include jobs, training and apprenticeships for targeted groups and procurement opportunities for local and diverse owned businesses and social enterprises. Additional benefits can range from affordable housing to energy reduction projects and public realm improvements.
Community Benefits Agreements (CBA) are legally binding, enforceable contracts thatset forth specific benefits for an infrastructure or development project. CBAs are usually negotiated between a developer or infrastructure builder and a community group or coalition. Benefits are defined through an inclusive community engagement process.
CBAs provide equitable economic opportunities that promote economic inclusion for local residents from equity seeking groups
CBAs contribute to the development of a system of training and workforce development programs that can enable economic inclusion
CBAs support small, medium and social enterprises through commitments to social procurement
CBAs contribute to sustainable communities with neighbourhood and environmental improvements
CBAs ensure clear commitments, targets and accountability from all parties to deliver on Community Benefits
The Canada Community Employment Benefits (CEB) initiative provides a framework for establishing project targets and reporting on employment and/or procurement for at least three of the groups targeted by the initiative: apprentices; Indigenous peoples; women; persons with disabilities; veterans; youth; recent immigrants; and small-sized, medium-sized and social enterprises.
The initiative is designed to allow for flexibility for provinces and territories to identify appropriate targets for the achievement of CEB by larger projects receiving funding under the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program. Information collected on these projects will be made public.
Support good jobs local to home
Opens doors to well-paid careers in skills-trades, professional, administrative and technical positions, for local residents especially those left out of the economy.
By targeting jobs and training opportunities for those who have difficulty accessing the
labour market (e.g., veterans, youth, indigenous peoples), community benefits help to
reduce poverty and increase social inclusion.
Community benefits can do “double duty” by maximizing government dollars already being spent with very little additional investment, and help foster a more equitable approach to economic development.
Community benefits help meet a range of other policy objectives, from poverty reduction to social inclusion and carbon reduction.
For private developers, negotiating a CBA with local community groups can ensure any concerns with the project are addressed up front, preventing delay and litigation down
The Montreal Board of Trade, the Vancouver Board of Trade and the Toronto Board of Trade support CBAs as a good economic model to build local economies and to tackle looming skilled labour shortages.
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%).
Construction companies, EllisDon, SNC-Lavalin, Aecon and ACS – Dragados said this about community benefits for the Eglinton LRT in Toronto, “We are committed to our work in the community. We have a solid plan to build infrastructure, as well as people... Our intent is to provide continuity of employment for the historically disadvantaged and equity-seeking apprentices and journeypersons on the project. Our priority is the development of the Toronto workforce and the growth of the individuals who work with Us.”
CBAs are a positive return on investment for governments when accounting for the social value of local communities benefiting from new infrastructure investment. With community benefits, governments can do “double duty” with existing dollars being spent by using tax dollars more efficiently.
Some minimal government costs include the allocation of staff resources to coordinate policies and implementation of CBA projects.
For businesses and contractors
Contractors who are undertaking public projects may have minor transaction and administration costs as a result of unbundling subcontracts to ensure local suppliers can bid and ensuring that commitments are monitored, tracked and reported on. Workforce reporting obligations can be addressed through payroll reports.
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