FAQs About Community Benefits Agreements

How do Community Benefits Work?


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.

What are Community Benefits


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

What are Community Benefits Agreements?


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.

What are the Goals of a Community Benefits Agreement?


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

Are CBAs Currently Used in Canada?


Yes, there are many examples of community benefits dating back to the 1980’s

Municipal Examples

Regional Examples

Provincial Examples

Federal Examples

What is the Federal Community Employment Benefits Initiative?


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.

Why Get Involved?


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.

What About Small and Medium Businesses and Social Enterprises?


By ensuring there are opportunities for local suppliers, in particular small, medium-sized and social enterprises (SMEs/SEs), community benefits and social procurement can strengthen the local economy

Why Would Government Want to do This?


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.

Why Should Developers Want to do This?


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

Do Businesses Support Community Benefits?


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.”

How Much Does CBAs Cost?


For Governments

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.