Over the past two years, the Parkdale People’s Economy has been convening the local anchor institutions in Parkdale – University Health Network (UHN), Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), and St. Joseph’s Health Centre – to discuss opportunities for local inclusive hiring, purchasing, and investments in the neighbourhood with the aim of improving social determinants of health, such as decent work and affordable housing. There is now a tangible opportunity to move towards common goals of community wealth building and improving local wellbeing through a Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) with UHN.

University Health Network has applied for an expansion of their Lakeside Long Term Care Centre to add a six-storey 192 bed long term care center with 235 new staff positions at 150 Dunn Ave. The Parkdale People’s Economy, with support from the Toronto Community Benefits Network, have been engaging senior representatives from University Health Network to sign a Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) committing to local inclusive hiring targets, affordable housing commitments, and an equitable process.  Our recommendations are informed by the Parkdale Community Benefits Framework, a set of minimum standards for neighborhood wide equitable local development which was developed over 18-months with deep community consultations in partnership with labour rights organizers and housing activists.

For over 17 years, the people of Parkdale have watched as the Toronto Rehab Centre, and subsequently the University Health Network, have neglected to honour a 2002 Toronto City Council recommendation to maintain and rehabilitate the affordable housing stock it owns in South Parkdale. Two houses at 1 and 3 Close Ave have been left vacant for over twenty years and are likely past the point of rehabilitation. A third house at 17 Close Ave was demolished in 2015. As Toronto’s affordable housing crisis grows, it is imperative that public institutions do everything they can to protect and increase access to affordable housing, especially for vulnerable populations.

We believe that a strong partnership with local tenants, workers, unions, and community organizations is integral to a successful Community Benefits Agreement, and have been organizing alongside these key partners to narrow our recommendations and strategies, including but not limited to:

Decent Work

  • 60% of new hires will be through local equitable hiring at living wages over the long-term, with 10% of the specialized workforce hired through local equitable hiring over the short-term.
  • 50% of total employees will have full-time positions.
  • 40% of entry-level apprenticeship positions for construction, renovation, and retrofit jobs to be allocated towards local residents from equity-seeking communities.
  • 10% of procurement below $25,000 to be purchased through local and/or diverse suppliers, social enterprises, and cooperatives.

Affordable Housing

  • 1, 3 , and 17 Close Ave to be rehabilitated for Social Housing.
  • Affordable rental housing to be preserved as a community asset under nonprofit management and tenant rights to be protected within the existing housing stock in Parkdale.
  • Responsive and effective relationships to be maintained with tenants and neighbours.

Equitable Process

  • Community Benefits Committee to be created in addition to two working groups: Workforce Development Advisory Group and Affordable Housing Advisory Group with an appointed Community Liaison. Committees and working groups to meet quarterly with equity-seeking resident representation.
  • Public Reporting to be released on a quarterly basis.

Over the coming weeks, we will be engaging the wider community to support local tenants, workers, and community partners by ensuring that community has a seat at the table in the redevelopment of Lakeside Longterm Care Centre through a legally-binding CBA.  We strongly believe that the expansion presents an opportunity for UHN to help realize its commitment to creating a healthier world for all by providing real benefits for tenants and workers in a neighbourhood that experiences significant socioeconomic stress. We will keep community updated on next steps to show support for the campaign.