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.
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:
The City cannot carry out community benefits work alone. It relies on the expertise and experience of residents, community organizations, and stakeholder groups in advancing community benefits work. There are a number of community benefits advocacy organizations, contractor associations, developers, employers, service providers, funders, labour, and research and policy organizations who have played significant roles in advancing the understanding and implementation of community benefits in Toronto.
These include, but are not limited to:
The City of Toronto will continue to work in collaboration and partnership with residents, community organizations, and stakeholder groups to identify and advance community benefits opportunities and ensure residents are benefiting from them. A Community Benefits Advisory Group will be established.
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:
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:
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.
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.
Progress reports can be found on the Rexdale – Casino Woodbine Community Benefits Agreement web page under Casino Woodbine CBA Targets and Achievements.
Targets and achievements can be found on the Social Procurement Program web page.