Community Benefits Agreements must be fair, open, and inclusive



OTTAWA, ON – A new research report is challenging governments at all levels to re-imagine the way they are adopting and implementing community benefits agreements (CBAs) for infrastructure and other projects. Community Benefits Agreements: Toward a Fair, Open, and Inclusive Framework for Canada looks at the use and abuse of CBAs across the country. Researchers concluded that CBAs can be a useful way to maximize the impact of Canada’s post-pandemic infrastructure construction boom and economic recovery, but only if governments define and implement such agreements fairly.

“Governments have been jumping onto the CBA bandwagon without taking the time to ensure that they are fair, open, transparent, and effective. The result is that they aren’t achieving their goals, and are reducing diversity in the labour market,” says Brian Dijkema, Vice-President of External Relations at think tank Cardus. “That’s unfair to workers, drives up the cost of construction by a conservatively estimated 15 percent, and worse, fails to deliver for the people CBAs are supposed to help.”

The report concludes that CBAs can be useful for helping to get community-wide benefits from construction projects only if governments adopt a fair, open, and transparent CBA framework across Canada. The key elements of such a framework are:

  • Genuine, broad consultation with government, developers, community, labour, and industry
  • Standardized, fair, open, and transparent procurement processes
  • Measurable goals that will help determine CBA success or failure 
  • Clear, achievable targets for things like job training and hiring
  • Longer term community benefits that last beyond the construction of any project
  • Inclusivity that respects all human rights, labour models, and union affiliations

Community Benefits Agreements: Toward a Fair, Open, and Inclusive Framework for Canada is available online.


Daniel Proussalidis
Cardus – Director of Communications


Cardus is a non-partisan think tank dedicated to clarifying and strengthening, through research and dialogue, the ways in which society's institutions can work together for the common good.

Topics: Labour