New Report an Important Contribution to Discussion of CBAs in Canada

Are their flaws too numerous to overcome?

The Progressive Contractors Association of Canada (PCA) welcomes “Community Benefits Agreements: Toward a Fair, Open and Inclusive Framework for Canada,” an in-depth analysis of Community Benefits Agreements (CBAs)” by Cardus, a leading Canadian think tank. It examines the genesis of the concept, provides a valuable and workable definition, assesses its strengths and weaknesses, and asks critical questions about the future direction of CBAs in Canada. 

The report concludes that while CBAs show promise for delivering social and economic benefits to individuals, communities and other stakeholders, current CBA models have serious flaws related to transparency, measurability and exclusion which must be addressed if they are to achieve their potential.

“We are an organization concerned about a fair and open procurement process and access to work, and this report raises serious questions about whether CBAs are used as a tool for excluding companies, labour models and individual workers – including those from underemployed groups,” said Paul de Jong, President of the Progressive Contractors Association of Canada (PCA).  

Nowhere is this more obvious than in B.C., where the province’s so-called “Community Benefits Agreement” governs many of its major infrastructure projects. This framework excludes 85% of B.C.’s construction workforce by granting a monopoly to a select group of favoured Building Trades Unions.

“B.C. is the poster child for what a CBA should not be: ill-defined, expensive and exclusionary. If this is what CBAs are to become, we want no part of it,” added de Jong. “Nonetheless, we’re hopeful that this report encourages discussion among policy makers and key legitimate stakeholders about the best ways of delivering real, measurable and meaningful social benefits when infrastructure projects are built.”