The Community Benefits Framework was adopted by Toronto City Council in 2019 and 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.

Currently, the Community Benefits Framework is at the development and testing stage. There is a need to develop back-end infrastructure—reliable and streamlined local and social hiring processes, data tracking and reporting processes, strong and transparent accountability and monitoring structure, and protocols and procedures to guide stakeholders—to support the implementation of the City’s current and future community benefits initiatives.

In the context of the Community Benefits Framework, the term “community benefits” refers to a range of outcomes that may be included as conditions when the City buys, builds, provides financial incentives, or other unique opportunities where community benefits can be explored. To date, City community benefits initiatives have focused on outcomes like employment and training opportunities and local and social procurement for local businesses and diverse suppliers.

The type and targets of possible community benefits outcomes are decided on a project-by-project basis depending on various factors including the type of City lever, the feasibility of employment opportunities, community organizing and demographics of the local population.

Community Benefits Framework Goal and Guiding Principles

The goal of the Community Benefits Framework is to maximize social and economic impacts when the City of Toronto buys, builds, provides financial incentives, and/or other unique opportunities where community benefits can be explored.

The principles that guide the Framework are:

  1. Promote social and economic inclusion
  2. Engage and involve the community
  3. Achieve accountability

At the City of Toronto, community benefits initiatives are established policies, programs or initiatives at the City of Toronto that use a City lever or authority (such as procurement, real estate transactions, or financial incentives for specific sectors and uses) to create community benefits outcomes and opportunities. Examples are the Housing Now Initiative, the Social Procurement Policy and Program, Rexdale – Casino Woodbine Community Benefits Agreement, and the Imagination, Manufacturing, Innovation and Technology (IMIT) Program. To date the most common practice has been to add community benefits terms and conditions as sections or as attachments to existing contracts (e.g. procurement contracts) or other agreements (e.g. City lease agreements).

Examples of current community benefits initiatives at the City:

  • The Social Procurement Policy and Program, adopted by City Council in 2016 and implemented in 2017, aims to leverage the City’s $2 billion annual procurement spend to incorporate and create opportunities for inclusive workforce development and supply chain diversity. Led by Purchasing and Materials Management Division.
  • The Imagination, Manufacturing, Innovation and Technology Program (IMIT) is a grant program to incentivize development in targeted sectors across Toronto. In 2019, a pilot program was recommended, which would further encourage community benefits activities. Led by Economic Development and Culture Division
  • The Rexdale – Casino Woodbine Community Benefits Agreement was established in 2018 between the City of Toronto and One Toronto Gaming, a partnership between Great Canadian Gaming Corporation and Brookfield Business Partners L.P., which is leading the expansion of gaming at Casino Woodbine. The Rexdale – Casino Woodbine Community Benefits Agreement contains a range of community benefits targets such as 40 per cent local or social employment, 50 per cent full-time jobs, 10 per cent of total construction hours for registered apprenticeships through local or social hiring, $5 million towards a child care centre, and community space. Led by Social Development, Finance and Administration Division.
  • Housing Now is an initiative to activate City-owned sites for the development of affordable housing within mixed-income, mixed-use, transit-oriented communities. Community benefits outcomes will be attached to future projects.
  • Toronto Community Housing Corporation implements a community economic development mandate on all neighbourhood revitalization sites, which focuses on TCHC tenant hiring opportunities. Led by Toronto Community Housing Corporation.
  • AnchorTO is a network of public sector institutions in Toronto working together to use their levers and resources to create social and economic benefits, primarily through social procurement and other inclusive economic development practices. AnchorTO members include Humber College, Metrolinx, University of Toronto Scarborough, York University and others. Led by Social Development, Finance and Administration Division.
  • Unique opportunities also include scenarios where community groups and anchor institutions and/or developers enter into voluntary discussions about community benefits agreements.

Hard targets are a key component of the City’s community benefits initiatives. To date, the City’s community benefits hard targets have focused on:

  1. City levers, such as City procurement and real estate agreements
  2. unique scenarios like financial incentives or casino expansion approvals.

As of 2020, the City has four established and active community benefits initiatives: Housing Now Initiative; Social Procurement Policy and Program; Rexdale – Casino Woodbine Community Benefits Agreement; and Imagination, Manufacturing, Innovation and Technology Program (IMIT).

In the context of the Community Benefits Framework, a hard target refers to a clear, measureable unit that quantifies a required community benefit outcome to be achieved within a given timeframe. Hard targets are key components for effective monitoring, tracking and evaluation of community benefits outcomes. The specific calculation for hard targets may vary on a project by project basis. For example, the Rexdale-Casino Woodbine Community Benefits Agreement includes hard targets such as 40 per cent local or social employment.

Imagination, Manufacturing, Information, and Technology (IMIT) Program

In 2020, the IMIT Program will implement a new points-based pilot program, which IMIT recipient property owners and property users can use to develop, implement and report on activities and outcomes for local employment plans. For more information about the new points-based system, as well as a summary of local employment requirement activities (2011-2018), see the May 2019 Staff Report Improving the IMIT Local Employment Requirement.

Rexdale – Casino Woodbine Community Benefits Agreement

Progress reports can be found on the Rexdale – Casino Woodbine Community Benefits Agreement web page under Casino Woodbine CBA Targets and Achievements.

Social Procurement Program

Targets and achievements can be found on the Social Procurement Program web page.