Rosemarie Powell

Rosemarie Powell is a passionate advocate for social, economic and environmental justice. She has led for over 20 years from the grassroots up, managing and developing several innovative and impactful community programs and services to support under-represented group’s access to the labour market. Her community engagement work in Jane Finch earned several awards for leadership and imagination. Rosemarie is currently the Executive Director of the Toronto Community Benefits Network (TCBN). The Toronto Community Benefits Network, is a community/labour coalition of over 120 member organizations which initiated successful Community Benefits Agreements for the Eglinton Crosstown and Finch West LRT transit projects, West Park Healthcare Centre and Woodbine Casino expansion.


  • published Download Job Postings 2022-04-27 10:32:11 -0400

  • published Scarborough Health Coalition 2022-04-25 11:09:46 -0400

    Scarborough Health Coalition

    SCARBOROUGH HEALTH COALITION CALLS FOR COMMUNITY BENEFITS AGREEMENT IN GOVERNMENT-FUNDED HEALTH INFRASTRUCTURE INVESTMENTS IN SCARBOROUGH

    SCARBOROUGH, APRIL 25 2022 -- Scarborough Health Coalition welcomes the pledge by the Ontario government to support expansion and redevelopment health infrastructure projects in Scarborough and calls for the Province and Scarborough Health Network to engage the community and approve a Community Benefits Agreement to require that at minimum ten percent of apprentices and tradespeople working on construction, design, planning and technical, come from the local community and equity-seeking groups. The call by Scarborough Health Coalition for a Community Benefits Agreement on Scarborough health infrastructure projects is consistent with the Community Benefits and Apprenticeship Plan that is part of the development (led by EllisDon) of the new West Park Healthcare Centre in Toronto's York South-Weston area.

    “The West Park Healthcare Centre CBA was historic as the first healthcare project in Ontario to use this approach to maximizing benefits for local communities through commitments to local, diverse hiring targets in apprenticeships, professional, administrative, technical careers and business procurement opportunities for local businesses” said TCBN Executive Director, Rosemarie Powell whose organization is working with West Park, EllisDon, Infrastructure Ontario and community organizations to support the development, implementation and monitoring of the Community Benefits and Apprenticeship Plan.” 

    The Ontario government has pledged over $1 billion in new health infrastructure in Scarborough. Scarborough Health Coalition is calling for community benefits to be achieved through a Community Benefits Agreement taking the form of a contract between the government, the health network, the community and the team chosen to design, build and finance the new projects. If done right, a Community Benefits Agreement has the potential to transform the way Scarborough Health Network and the government purchase, build, employ and think about maximizing local economic development while creating good jobs for the residents of Scarborough.

    "This investment on health infrastructure in Scarborough is significant and with a Community Benefits Agreement, it will ensure local equity deserving groups will benefit from apprenticeships, good jobs and business opportunities," said Kingsley Kwok, Chairperson, Scarborough Health Coalition. "It is time to leverage public infrastructure funding to build back Scarborough better from COVID-19, where it was identified as a hotspot during the pandemic” said Kingsley. 

    Contact Info 

    Kingsley Kwok, Chairperson at Scarborough Health Coalition 

    Phone # 416-835-3377 

    Rosemarie Powell, Executive Director, Toronto Community Benefits Network (TCBN)

    Phone # 416-573-8819 

    Additional Information 

    • Community benefits are the additional social, economic or environmental benefits provided to local communities by leveraging public infrastructure investments. It has been included on many large-scale provincially funded public infrastructure projects like the Eglinton Crosstown LRT, Finch West LRT and West Park Healthcare Centre. 
    • Just last month, the Ford government faced significant public pressure for removing diversity hiring targets from Community Benefits Agreements as part of four new transit projects including the approx. $4B Scarborough Subway Extension project. A representative from the Ministry of Transportation later confirmed that the minimum ten percent diversity hiring targets would be included in those projects.
    • Akeem Busari is a 1st year apprentice working at the West Park Healthcare Centre. As a local resident, he shares his journey working with TCBN to open a pathway for him into a good unionized career working on a local project in his neighbourhood. Watch here

    About the Scarborough Health Coalition 

    Scarborough Health Coalition is a local health coalition of community members and health care workers with a focus on the public delivery of Medicare and long-term care and on health and safety during the COVID-19 pandemic.


  • published BDA Video 2022-04-22 15:04:48 -0400

  • Community Benefits in Collective Agreements

    February 28, 2022

    Chris Murray

    City Manager

    4th Floor, East Tower, City Hall

    100 Queen Street West

    Toronto, ON M5H 2N2

     

    Dear Chris Murray:

    Re: Community Benefits Implementation Construction Collective Agreements

    In 2019 the City of Toronto adopted our Community Benefits Framework which focuses on ways to maximize the use of City of Toronto levers (such as procurement, real estate transactions, or financial incentives for specific sectors and uses) to create inclusive and equitable economic opportunities through community benefits initiatives. It is an intentional step towards achieving that commitment using a coordinated and evidence-based approach.

    The intention of the Framework is to be an “umbrella framework” that guides, supports and provides coordination across different City Divisions, Agencies, and Corporations who have existing or are developing new community benefits initiatives.

    The disproportionate impacts of COVID-19 and the emphasized need for a recovery and rebuild strategy that prioritizes Indigenous, Black and equity-seeking communities, have highlighted the importance for community benefits initiatives to maximize municipal levers to create inclusive economic opportunities.

    The support of the construction industry to achieve the City Community Benefits goals is of great importance. The City is party to provincial I.C.I. Collective Agreements with nine unions, and is negotiating with one other union. The City is part of the Employer Bargaining Agencies for each of these Collective Agreements.

    As Councillors who strongly support Community Benefits we are recommending that the City formally propose to each Employer Bargaining Agency the inclusion of language to express a shared commitment to equity, diversion and inclusion, to be included in the appendix that pertains to construction projects owned by the City or its agencies.

    An example of such language could be:

    "For the Board Area 8 Appendix of ICI Provincial Collective Agreements:

    The parties recognize that the City of Toronto is committed to offering a range of employment, training and apprenticeship opportunities for historically disadvantaged communities and equity seeking groups. The parties agree to cooperate on implementing the goals of the City of Toronto Community Benefits Framework through outreach, training and dispatch as well as demographic data collection, tracking, monitoring and evaluation practices for projects tendered by the City of Toronto or its agencies."

    Thank you for your consideration of our request.

    Sincerely,

    Deputy Mayor Ana Bailao

    Councillor, Ward 9 Davenport 

    Councillor Mike Colle  

    Ward 8, Eglinton-Lawrence

    Councillor James Pasternak

    Ward 6 - York Centre 

    Councillor Anthony Perruzza 

    Ward 7 Humber River—Black Creek

    Councillor Shelley Carroll 

    Ward 17 - Don Valley North 

    Councillor Frances Nunziata 

    Ward 5 | York South—Weston

    Councillor Gord Perks

    Ward 4, Parkdale-High Park

    Councillor Paula Fletcher            

    Ward 14, Toronto-Danforth

    Councillor Jennifer McKelvie

    Ward 25, Scarborough - Rouge Park

    Deputy Mayor Michel Thompson

    Councillor, Ward 21 Scarborough Centre

    Councillor Mike Layton

    Ward 11 University-Rosedale

    Councillor Joe Cressy

    Ward 10, Spadina-Fort York

    Councillor Brad Bradford

    Ward 19 Beaches—East York

    Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam

    Ward 13, Toronto Centre

     

    C.C.:

    Mayor John Tory

    Marsha John-Greenwood, Interim Chief People Officer

    Construction Associations and Construction Unions

    Toronto Community Benefits Network


  • published IDERD Press Release 2022 2022-03-21 10:42:12 -0400

    Press Release: International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

    March 21, 2022
    Contact: Kumsa Baker

    Toronto Community Benefits Network and allied organizations call on Metrolinx, government to change course on major transit infrastructure projects 

    Call for participation and inclusion comes on the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

    Toronto, March 21, 2022 – Today, community organizations and labour groups led by the Toronto Community Benefits Network call on elected representatives, the Province of Ontario, and its ministries, Metrolinx and Infrastructure Ontario, to ensure major upcoming transit infrastructure projects help build inclusive, prosperous communities while combatting persistent racial discrimination.  

    “Ontario’s transit infrastructure boom represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” says Rosemarie Powell, Executive Director of the Toronto Community Benefits Network (TCBN). “We are calling on Metrolinx to ensure these projects present meaningful employment and procurement opportunities for equity-deserving groups, especially Black, Indigenous, People of Colour, and women.  We need to ensure these transit projects lift up rather than undermine their host communities.”

    TCBN and its network of community, labour and social enterprise partners are calling for immediate action, the full text of which is available here.


    “I found a career path in the skilled trades by working on the Eglinton Crosstown LRT, but that opportunity happened because we had a real Community Benefits Agreement in place,” explains Ahmed Abdi, a fourth year apprentice with Carpenters Local 27. “A true CBA means community organizations are at the table, helping companies realize their commitments and holding companies accountable for their targets. Without community involvement, we risk these job creation commitments being empty promises. Youth violence is increasing across the City and we need more opportunities especially for Black youth like myself to get access to the good jobs opportunities in the skilled trades” 

    After TCBN and allied organizations raised the alarm, the Provincial government confirmed that a ten percent minimum equity target would be included on projects moving forward. However, community organizations are currently shut out of oversight and participation, roles they previously played, leading to concerns over transparency and accountability.

    Signatories also called for project-specific anti-racism strategies designed and carried out with community participation. “Metrolinx workplaces have a history of anti-Black racism, with frequent reports of harassment, assault, and unsafe working conditions,” says Rosemarie Powell. “In 2021 alone, eight nooses were found at four Toronto-based construction sites, two of which were Metrolinx transit projects, the Eglinton Crosstown LRT.”

    “The lack of community engagement, strong environmental oversight, community benefits agreements, and project-specific anti-racism strategies means that equity-deserving groups may be shut out of benefits while shouldering the costs of large transit projects,” says Powell. “The first step to getting Ontario’s transit infrastructure projects back on track is to give community groups a real seat at the table.” 


  • published IDERD Statement 2022-03-17 18:04:43 -0400

    IDERD Statement

    TCBN International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination 

    Joint Statement from Supporters & Allies

    To: Federal Government, Provincial Government, City of Toronto and Metrolinx

    CC: Elected representatives of impacted ridings by new transit projects

    On March 21, the Toronto Community Benefits Network recognizes the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (IDERD). IDERD was proclaimed in 1966 by the United Nations General Assembly in response to what is known as the Sharpeville massacre or the Sharpeville tragedy. With its 1966 proclamation, the UN General Assembly called on the international community to increase efforts to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination.

    The Toronto Community Benefits Network and its supporters from across Ontario call on our governments to address community concerns around major upcoming transit infrastructure projects, and ensure they realize their full transformative potential.

    As you know, large transit infrastructure projects like the Scarborough Subway Extension, Eglinton West LRT Extension, Ontario Line and Yonge North Subway Extension present unprecedented opportunities for local economic development, particularly for impacted equity-deserving groups. Yet we must ensure discriminatory and exclusionary practices are put to rest to realize these positive impacts.

    As stakeholders directly involved in the funding, planning, and delivery of four large-scale priority transit projects across Toronto, we call on you to address the following community concerns.

    Community Engagement and Environmental Considerations

    Current plans for the four new transit projects include significant impacts on main streets, public spaces, parks, green spaces, and local businesses. Also, we know from experience that environmental burdens associated with major transit infrastructure projects, including pollution, noise and vibration, have disproportionately been borne by low income communities, indigenous communities and communities of colour. We must restore the ability to protect our environment and address environmental racism.

    Unfortunately, Metrolinx’s decision-making lacks transparency and engagement with impacted communities. At least five neighbourhood improvement areas (as identified by the City of Toronto[1]) will be affected by these projects during construction and beyond. Direct, ongoing and meaningful engagement with impacted communities is needed to co-design plans for neighbourhood improvements/enhancements in ways that address local concerns and environmental impacts.

    Community Benefits Agreements

    Community Benefits Agreements (CBAs) are a vital accountability mechanism to ensure economic and racial justice through specific commitments to good jobs and opportunities for underrepresented groups, including Black and Indigenous workers, People of Colour, and women. It is a proven approach to maximize the public return on investment in infrastructure spending, transforming local communities to stronger, more inclusive economies.

    Community Benefits Agreements must be established in project agreements, on a project-by-project basis, with at least 10% minimum equity hiring thresholds, local and social procurement requirements, disaggregated reporting of data, and a project level Community Benefits working group to ensure accountability. While we are encouraged by the Provincial governments announcement that a 10% minimum equity target will be included on projects moving forward, we are concerned that such mandates can be removed with no transparency.

    Safe & Anti Racist Workplaces 

    In 2021, eight nooses were found at four construction sites in the City of Toronto. Two of these incidents occurred at Metrolinx’s Eglinton Crosstown LRT construction sites.[2] Black workers have also reported being harassed, assaulted, and feeling unsafe while working on construction projects in Toronto.

    Metrolinx and Infrastructure Ontario must ensure a safe and healthy environment free from hate, harassment, and bigotry for all workers on these projects, especially Black workers. All contractors must be required to conduct anti-racism training, with a focus on anti-Black racism, for all workers, supervisors, managers, and executives, including any subcontractors, and to provide a project-specific anti-racism strategy and incident response plan, with an emphasis on ensuring contractor evaluation and compliance.

    Over the last few years, we have seen the clock rolled back on efforts to eliminate racial discrimination. New legislation in the Province of Ontario has gutted laws and regulations under the pretext of speeding up decision-making processes on large infrastructure projects. In the process, previously existing checks and balances protecting local communities and allowing them to address social, environmental and economic concerns have been lost. The resulting lack of accountability, transparency, and meaningful engagement most impacts equity-deserving communities.

    In recognition of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on March 21, we call on local elected representatives, the Province of Ontario and its ministries, Metrolinx and Infrastructure Ontario, to work with community groups in a meaningful way to ensure major upcoming transit infrastructure projects also help create more inclusive, prosperous and just communities.

    [1] https://www.toronto.ca/city-government/data-research-maps/neighbourhoods-communities/nia-profiles/

    [2] https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/police-investigating-after-2nd-noose-found-on-crosstown-1.5946691


  • published Strategic Plan Validation Survey 2022 2022-03-15 14:37:57 -0400

  • published CBA for New Transit Projects 2022-03-09 11:56:03 -0500

    CBA for New Transit Projects

    Follow-Up to Statement Following Toronto Star Article on Metrolinx

    On Friday, the Toronto Community Benefits Network was informed that the Government of Ontario through the Ministry of Infrastructure has reversed its decision to remove diversity hiring requirements on its four new priority transit projects.

    We appreciate and recognize the support of the TCBN members and allies who mobilized by sending emails and letters to Metrolinx, the Government of Ontario and local elected representatives to remind them about the importance of equity hiring as part of Toronto’s new transit projects.

    Although this decision has been reversed, we have not heard directly from Metrolinx or the Ministry of Infrastructure on the details of the Community Benefits Agreements including the following:

    Key Transparency and Accountability mechanisms:

     

     1 

    Specifics of the minimum employment equity thresholds/targets to be included in the project contracts

     2 

    Commitments to social procurement from local small businesses, social enterprises and minority-owned businesses and supply chain diversity

     3 

    Plans for ongoing engagement with local communities to co-design solutions that address local concerns and environmental impacts

     4 

    Establishment of a project level Community Benefits Working Group that includes project contractor, relevant ministries, community and labour representation, including TCBN

     5 

    Development of an agreed-upon tracking, monitoring, and evaluation framework that publicly reports outcomes and disaggregated data of workers for each project

    We count on your continued support and diligence to ensure that these commitments are included in all project contracts moving forward and that all transparency and accountability mechanisms are included as part of the Community Benefits Agreement.

    Please come out to our Quarterly General Meeting on March 15th at 6pm to learn more about how you can help strengthen community benefits from government investment in infrastructure.

    Next Steps

     

     

     

    Join the conversation about #communitybenefits on:

    Twitter Facebook Instagram LinkedIn YouTube


  • published Letter to Metrolinx 2022-03-03 09:35:38 -0500

  • published Building Diversity Awards 2022-02-17 12:38:41 -0500

  • published Building Diversity Awards 2022-02-17 12:38:05 -0500

  • published Building Diversity Awards 2022-02-17 12:36:54 -0500

  • published Tool Kit 2022-02-09 17:53:19 -0500

  • published References 2022-02-09 10:16:01 -0500

  • published Tools and Resources 2022-02-09 08:50:36 -0500

    Tools and Resources

    Tools and Resources Supporting the Implementation of Community Benefits Agreements in Toronto

    To learn more about the foundational principles of the TCBN Download our Foundation Document here. TCBN has a registered general membership of 121 community and labour organizations and groups and social enterprises. Is your organization or group not yet a member? Complete our Membership Form online or download it here.

    Please contact [email protected] with any questions or access to "upon request" tools


  • published Black History Month Event 2022-02-08 14:06:57 -0500

  • published Black History Month Event 2022-02-08 14:03:23 -0500

  • published Newsletter February 2022 2022-01-31 07:25:32 -0500

    Newsletter February 2022

     
    Hero Image

    February Webinar: Feb. 10, 6PM: Working with Municipalities, Universities, Schools & Hospitals

    This webinar will feature panelists from anchor institutions in Toronto who will share more on its role in leading and implementing community benefits and social procurement strategies that strengthen local economies.

     

     

    Join us in building a shared vision for the next 5 years of our work.

     

    Community Benefits Agreement South Etobicoke

     

    BLACK HISTORY MONTH

    Please watch our social media channels for the month of February where we’ll be celebrating Black Excellence in Construction.

    Does your community or organization have big plans for Black History month? Please let us know and we’ll share it with our network. Please send the information on your event with assets, important dates, times and RSVP details and we will share them on our social media channels.


    Please send the information to our Designer Trang Ho at [email protected]

    Beyond Trending: Confronting Anti-Black Racism - Not an Occasional Act

    In celebration of Black History Month, we invite you to join us for an engaging discussion on confronting anti-Black racism beyond occasional acts and trends. Hearing from Black leaders within the labour movement and our communities, you will have an opportunity to participate in the discussion and learn about how we can all continue to be effective activists.

     

    NEW COMMUNITY BENEFITS DIRECTORY

    Wondering what sorts of supports are available in the construction industry? Through a partnership between TCBN and Findhelp, you can now call 855-258-7375 to connect with the Community Benefits Directory for community supports.

     

    Join the conversation about #communitybenefits

     


  • published Campaigns Events 2022-01-25 09:52:12 -0500

  • published Visitor Health and Safety Check-In 2022-01-20 10:31:34 -0500