What is a CBA?

Definition of a Community Benefits Agreement

Based on practices in the US and elsewhere a CBA is defined by:[1]

  1. A signed, legally enforceable agreement, having clear monitoring and enforcement mechanisms;
  1. Specificity to a particular construction project (rather than an institutional policy);
  1. An inclusive, collaborative and accountable process of leveraging a development project towards achieving a broader range of policy objectives such as equity, poverty reduction, environmental sustainability and local economic development;
  1. A CBA details in writing the specific benefits that a community will receive from a given development project.  These benefits might include equitable hiring practices, funding for training, neighbourhood improvements, support for social enterprises, etc.;
  1. There is substantial community involvement in all phases of the CBA.

The TCBN would define community involvement for the Eglinton Crosstown project as community being a partner in the design, implementation, monitoring, enforcement and evaluation of an Eglinton Crosstown CBA.

What is the purpose of a Community Benefits Agreement (CBA)?

A CBA is a commitment to provide jobs and other benefits for local residents. In many countries, communities demand CBAs when new industries or public sector projects are built.

  • The construction of the Metrolinx LRT transit network will create many employment opportunities in construction, finance, administration, design and engineering. There are also opportunities to create jobs through social enterprise and social procurement.  Let’s make sure that local people who are far from the labour market have a chance to get some of these jobs.
  • Community groups have already started to work with Metrolinx for a CBA that will provide jobs in local communities, especially for our youth, women and internationally  trained professionals.
  • Although most of the focus is on jobs, other issues may also be addressed in the CBA with Metrolinx.
  • The CBA campaign is proposing that existing programs and agencies be used to recruit and prepare applicants for the jobs created by the CBA. The Hammer Heads program of the Central Ontario Building Trades Council, for example, have established programs to prepare at-risk youth,  for apprenticeships in the Building trades. The Carpenter’s Union’s CHOICE program is similar. The City of Toronto’s Employment and Social Services Division identifies applicants for the union’s programs.

Of course not all, or maybe not even most, jobs can go to new entrants to the workforce. But with careful planning, coordination and cooperation among governments, industry and community, it is possible to make sure that the public tax dollars spent on infrastructural projects are spread more evenly – to benefit communities.

The purpose of this website is to hold such a discussion. We hope that you find some of the articles posted here useful. We will be adding content continuously, so please visit us again soon.

A CBA for Toronto



[1]   Julian Goss, Community Benefits Agreements: Definitions, Values, and Legal Enforcement, Journal of Affordable Housing, Vol 17:1-2, Fall 2007/Winter 2008.  Also see: Good Jobs First and the California Partnership for Working Families, “Community Benefits Agreements: Making Development Projects Accountable,” 2005.