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Canada’s Building Trades Unions strongly advocate for the inclusion of Community Benefits Agreements (CBAs) or Workforce Development Agreements (WDAs) in federally procured construction projects.
What are community benefit agreements/workforce development agreements? Community Benefits Agreements (CBAs), also called Workforce Development Agreements (WDAs), are a way to leverage infrastructure dollars to not only build much-needed infrastructure in communities across Canada, but also achieve social benefits in the communities where a project takes place.
Impacts of CBAs
CBAs enable the value of a project to extend far beyond the building of infrastructure. They create pathways to apprenticeship for those in the communities where infrastructure is built, including opportunities for underrepresented groups, and building the skilled trades workforce. The federal government has the opportunity to mandate the inclusion of CBAs to ensure every public dollar spent sees the greatest return on investment, especially looking ahead to a post-pandemic economic recovery.
CBAs often contain provisions that enable apprenticeships, establish grounds for workplace development initiatives, provide funding and economic support for impacted communities, and set forth goals for minorities, women, and local job hiring, leaving a legacy of experience, skills training and employability.
CBAs on Federally Procured Infrastructure Projects
It is important to find a way to leverage federal public procurement in construction to create the biggest social benefit. In 2018, the federal government introduced the Community Employment Benefits Initiative which provides a framework for establishing project targets and reporting on results. However, as participation in this initiative is not an eligibility criterion for the approval of project funding through the Investing in Canada Plan, the initiative has seen little use. CBTU recommends the government introduce a new policy to mandate the inclusion of CBAs as a requirement of infrastructure projects.
By mandating CBAs into federal infrastructure procurement contracts, more Canadians, specifically Canadians who have disproportionately been affected by the pandemic economic fall-out, will benefit.
Read our report on Community Benefits Agreements for more information.