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Guide to filing a complaint with the CORE

This guide provides information about:

What to know before you file a complaint

You can only file a complaint about a possible human rights abuse. If your complaint is about something else, we will try to find another organization to help you.

How does the CORE decide if a complaint is admissible?

The CORE assesses if a complaint is admissible based on the following three admissibility criteria:

1. The complaint involves a possible human rights abuse

Here are some examples of human rights abuses:

2. The possible abuse has resulted from the operations of a Canadian company working outside Canada in the garment, mining, or oil and gas sector.

A Canadian company includes companies that it controls. The possible abuse can happen during any part of a company’s work:

3. The possible abuse started after May 1, 2019* or if it started before May 1, 2019 it is still going on.

* The CORE was set up on May 1, 2019 so the possible abuse has to take place after that. But if it happened before May 1, 2019 and is still happening, this admissibility criteria is met.

What about safety?

You may worry that if you file a complaint with the CORE, you may put yourself or others in danger. You may worry about your safety, your job, your home, or your property.

We take retaliation seriously. If you are worried about your safety or the safety of other people, we will talk to you about safety as soon as we first contact you.

You can find more information about What is retaliation on our website.

Do I have to put my name on the complaint?

Yes, we need your name and contact information to get in touch with you about your complaint. But, you can ask to file a complaint anonymously. This means that you will not be named or identified in the complaint or the complaint process.

How can the CORE help me file a complaint?

Filing a complaint is free. We usually work in English or French. But if you do not speak either of these languages, we provide interpretation and translation services in the language of your choice.

You do not need a lawyer for the CORE’s complaint process. You can hire a lawyer if you want, or you can ask someone you trust to help you.

We will give you information about the complaint process and answer your questions. We can talk to you about the complaint you want to file. We cannot tell you what to do but we will help you to find out what information you need to file the complaint.

If we cannot take your complaint, then we will try to find another organization to help you.

Do I have to decide to file a complaint right away?

No. You may decide not to file a complaint once you have talked with us. You may decide to wait. We will close your file but you can come back later and ask us to re-open it.

What information do I put in my complaint?

The online complaint form guides you through all of the questions you need to answer. You can also tell us what you think is necessary to fix the harm.

Here is an example to help you write your complaint.

To the CORE,

I want to file a complaint about what company 9OTN is doing in my village, Alif, near Ismailia in Egypt.

9OTN grows and makes cotton for a company in Canada and it works in the garment business. People in the village who work for 9OTN pack the cotton for shipping to a Canadian company. The address of 9OTN is 9 Nasser Street, Ismailia 41516 Egypt.

This complaint is for my village of 1,500 people. I have a letter from the mayor saying I can file a complaint.

9OTN is polluting our land and water with the chemicals used to grow the cotton. The farmers’ sheep are dying. People have trouble breathing, including our children at school. I can give you names of people to talk to if you want.

My community is worried about the pollution, but we depend on 9OTN for jobs.

Will I get compensation for harm to my human rights?

If we decide that the Canadian company abused human rights, we will ask you what you think is necessary to fix the harm. Then we will recommend ways for the company to stop the abuse and remedy the harm to human rights.

These are examples of what we may tell the company to do:

We follow up to see if the human rights abuse has stopped and if our recommendations are being carried out. We report publicly on this process through our website.

We are not a court or a tribunal. We cannot make people or companies carry out our recommendations.  We can tell a Canadian company to fix the harm, but we cannot force them to do it. We will follow-up and report on whether the recommendations are being followed.

Can the CORE decide not to deal with my complaint?

Yes, we can stop the complaint process at any time if we think there is a good reason to do so. Before we make this decision, we will consider whether it is fair to everyone involved to have the complaint continue.

Here are some of the reasons we may decide not to deal with your complaint:

Can I stop the complaint process?

Yes. You can ask to stop your complaint at any time.

If you decide to stop the complaint process, then we will write a letter to you and the company to say that the file is closed. If you come back later, you may be able to re-open the file.

How to file a complaint

How can I file a complaint?

There are several ways to file a complaint with the CORE:

We will let you know that we got your complaint within 10 working days of receiving it. We usually communicate by email. If you do not have email, tell us whether we should call you or mail you a letter.

Can I file a complaint for someone else?

Yes. You can file a complaint for another person, for an organization or for a community. You must show that they agreed to let you file the complaint for them.

The documents you need to show us depends on the situation. Here are some examples:

The complaint process

What is the complaint process?

The CORE’s complaint process has different stages and procedures that we use to deal with a complaint. Our complaint process is flexible.

We let you know what is happening at each stage. You can email us at any time to find out what is happening. You can also call us. Our telephone number is +1-343-203-5060.


The first stage is intake. During intake, we do four things:

  1. Receive your complaint
    • Once we receive your complaint, we usually tell you within 10 working days that we have received it.
  2. Hold an interview
    • If it looks like your complaint may be admissible, we will set up a time to talk with you about your complaint. This is called an “intake interview.”
    • We usually do intake interviews on the telephone or through a virtual platform like Microsoft Teams.
    • During the interview, we try to find out if your complaint meets our admissibility criteria.
  3. Make a decision on whether your complaint is admissible – this means that we can work with your complaint.
    • If we decide that we can work with your complaint, then we will ask you if you will let us tell the company about your complaint. 
    • If you agree, then we will give the company your complaint or a summary of your complaint. This includes your name or the name of the person, organization, or community that you are filing the complaint for. We will not include this information if you ask us not to.
    • We will not give your contact information to the Canadian company. If you filed your complaint anonymously, then we will not give the company any information that could identify you.
    • If we decide that we cannot work with your complaint, then we will try to find another organization to help you. We will tell you why we cannot work with your complaint and then we will close your file.
  4. We will also ask you for information about yourself that you may think is private. We do not use this information to work with your complaint. If you do not give us this information, then we will still process your complaint. We collect the information to show us who we work with and what kinds of problems they are dealing with.

We will do all that we can to finish the intake process within 30 business days of when you give us all of the information needed to file the complaint.

Initial assessment

The second stage of the complaint process is called initial assessment. Initial assessment only starts after we have told the company about the complaint. During initial assessment, we do four things:

  1. Find out more about your complaint
    • We talk to you and the company separately. We want to make sure we understand what the complaint is about. We also want to know what each of you thinks about the complaint. If the company objects to the complaint – for example, the company may say that it is not a Canadian company – then we will make a decision on whether we can move forward with the complaint.
  2. Share information
    • If you and the company agree, we will share information with both of you. We will see if you agree on what the problem is and if there is a solution. If it looks like there may be a solution, then we will help you and the company to work it out. This is called early resolution.
    • If you and the company do not agree on a solution, then we will talk to both of you about next steps.
  3. Suggest ways to find a solution
    • First we will suggest mediation. During mediation, you and the company agree to work with a mediator to resolve your disagreement. A mediator is trained to do this work and does not take sides with either of you.
    • If either you or the company does not want to try mediation, then we will investigate the complaint. You can always try mediation later on if you and the company agree to do so.
  4. Write a report
    • We write a report on the initial assessment. You and the company will each get a copy of it. Each of you will be able to comment on the report before we publish it on our website. When we publish the report, we will also send a copy to the Canadian Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development. If the complaint is about mining or oil and gas, we will also send a copy of the report to the Minister of Natural Resources.

We will do all that we can to finish the initial assessment within 90 days after we tell the company about the complaint. If we need more time, then we will let you know.


You can always choose whether you want to take part in mediation or not.

If you choose to take part in mediation and it does not work out, then you can ask us to start an investigation instead. You can also try mediation again later. We will explain how mediation works so that you can make the best decision for yourself.

You and the company have to agree for mediation to take place. It is an informal process. It gives both of you the chance to talk about how you see the complaint and how to solve it.

A mediator works with you and the company to help you resolve your complaint.

A mediator does not take sides. They know that differences like language, culture, and gender can make it more difficult for some people to take part. They work to make sure that both sides have an equal voice in the mediation.

During mediation, we expect you and the company to do four things:

You may worry that the company is more powerful than you are. As an ombud office, we work to make sure that everyone is treated fairly.

We make mediation fairer by doing the following:

  1. hold the mediation in a place that feels safe and is easy for you to get to
  2. give you information
  3. let you have a person you trust with you for support
  4. if necessary, provide an interpreter

We may also help you find these things:

When mediation settles a complaint, we will write a report that only includes information that the parties agree is not confidential. We will publish the report on our website.


If you choose not to take part in mediation, then we decide whether to start an investigation.

During an investigation, we gather information about the possible human rights abuse you reported in your complaint to find out if it happened, how it happened and if it is still happening.

We gather information in two ways:

We do not have the power to force a company to talk to us, or to give us information and documents.

Making a public investigation report with recommendations

When we finish an investigation, we will write a report with recommendations.

In our report, we can make many types of recommendations:

We cannot order anyone to do something. That means that we cannot order the Canadian company to pay compensation.

If we decide to stop an investigation, we will write a report and give our reasons for stopping it.

We publish our reports on our website. You and the company will be asked to provide your comments on the facts in a report before it is posted on our website.


After we have published our report, we will check in with you and the company to see that our recommendations are being carried out and that any settlements reached through mediation are implemented. We publish a report of our follow-up on our website

How do I participate in the complaint process?

We want you to take part in our complaint process as much as you can. We will work with:

Everyone who takes part in our complaint process must “act in good faith”. This means you must do four things:

  1. behave honestly and fairly
  2. give information as soon as possible after we ask for it (we know there can be good reasons for needing more time).
  3. give information that is as accurate and complete as possible.
  4. respect privacy and confidentiality.

If you file a complaint for someone else, then you must do all you can to make sure that they agree to let you act on their behalf. This is another way for you to act in good faith.

If we discover that someone is not acting in good faith, we will do one or more of these things:

If the situation is serious and cannot be fixed, then we may stop the complaint process.

Acting in good faith requires a Canadian company to not retaliate against a complainant or anyone taking part in the complaint process.

If we discover that a Canadian company has retaliated against someone taking part in our process, then we may publish a report about the retaliation on our website. In our report we may recommend that the Canadian government:

More information

To learn more about the CORE and how it works with complaints, please visit our website.


Contact us if you need more information. We will answer your questions. If we cannot work with your complaint, we will look for other organizations that may be able to help you.

How to contact the CORE:

By email at

By telephone at 1-343-203-5060. You will have to leave a voice mail message and we will call you back.

By letter mail at The Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise, 125 Sussex Drive, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0G2, Canada

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