Community Benefits Agreements

Sep 21, 2020

Canada is facing unprecedented challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic. CBTU is committed to continue working on building the critical infrastructure necessary to keep Canadians healthy and our economy strong. We recognize the urgency for provinces and municipalities in building and maintaining facilities and infrastructure, such as hospitals, roads, pipelines, and power generation, which are nearing capacity as Canada adjusts to the current situation and prepares for the future. But while we look ahead to the future, we need to figure out how to build better. One way to do that? Community Benefits Agreements.

Community Benefits Agreements, or CBAs, can secure work, skills training and fair wages to qualified local residents and groups who are traditionally underrepresented in the skilled trades sector, such as apprentices, Indigenous workers and women. With predetermined wages, training and worker ratios, CBAs can also ensure projects are completed on time and on budget; there is greater accountability and transparency. For the economy to prosper and benefit Canadians and its communities, it is vital that we invest in all Canadians. Community Benefits Agreements accomplish this goal.

Canada has the opportunity to embody progressive practices in the engagement of local communities, marginalized groups, and those impacted by infrastructure projects. It is important to find a way to leverage public procurement in construction to create the biggest social benefit. Infrastructure projects and investment must be viewed as more than transactional. We recognize that, when local communities have a role in the planning and building of a project, they are more invested in it and more likely to realize its positive “nation building” benefits.

CBAs often contain provisions that enable apprenticeships, guarantee prevailing wages, establish grounds for workplace development initiatives, provide funding and economic support for impacted communities, and set forth goals for minority, women, and local job hiring; leaving a legacy of experience, skills training and employability. Examples of provincial jurisdictions utilizing CBAs in public procurement include Ontario and British Columbia.

Public opinion on CBAs is high across the country. According to a survey conducted by Earnscliffe, 60% of Canadians are supportive of infrastructure projects undertaken in Canada to include CBAs[1].

The time to build better, is now.

[1] Earnscliffe Study on Community Benefit Agreements, July 2020