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Frequently asked questions

The Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise (CORE) is set up to protect and promote human rights. We are part of the Canadian government.

Am I at the right place?

We look into complaints about possible human rights abuses when they happen in Canadian companies that work outside Canada in the garment, mining, and oil and gas sectors.

Human rights are the basic rights and freedoms we are born with. They are about how we treat each other, and how we live and work together. For everyone, everywhere, they mean that we have respect, dignity, equality, and freedom.

If you want to file a complaint with us, then you need to tell us 3 things:

  1. that you are complaining about human rights that have been abused
  2. that it happened outside of Canada, AND that it came from a Canadian company that works in the garment, mining, or oil and gas sectors


  1. that it started after May 1, 2019 OR it started before then and is still going on

These are our admissibility criteria. If these things are true, then you are in the right place.

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What happens when I file a complaint – what is the process?

Our complaint process is flexible. Here is a flow chart of the process.

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Who can file a complaint?

Any person, organization, or community can file a complaint with us.

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.

What you need depends on the situation. Here are some examples:

There is no cost to file a complaint or to work with us through the complaint process.

What kind of complaints does the CORE work with?

We only work with complaints that meet our admissibility criteria

Complaints we work with must be about possible human rights abuse. A human rights abuse happens when someone’s human rights are harmed. It is not necessary to show that someone did something on purpose or intended the harm. What matters is the harmful effect.
A Canadian company that does NOT respect human rights when it does business in another country can cause different kinds of harm. Here are some examples.

Harms caused by human rights abuses

Physical unsafe conditions at work > cause injuries
Relationships discrimination > conflict, isolation, withdrawing
Economic unpaid or underpaid > little food, poor housing
Environment unsafe water > health suffers
Mental health disorders > anxiety, depression, PTSD unfit housing
Identity silenced > can not speak own language

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What information do I put in my complaint?

The online form gives you all the questions you need to answer. These are the questions to answer if you email us or send us your complaint by postal mail.

Below is a summary of the information you will need to provide when completing the form.

How do I know if a company is a Canadian company?

We define a Canadian company as all of these

You can file a complaint about any of these companies as long as they work outside of Canada in the garment, mining, or oil and gas sectors.

Note: We are set up by an Order in Council made by the government of Canada. That Order in Council defines a “Canadian company” for us.

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What language can I use when I communicate with you?

We usually work in English or French. If you do NOT speak English or French, you can ask to file a complaint in another language. We will make every effort to find a way to interpret for you and translate documents for you.

How can I make it safe to file a complaint?

You may worry that if you file a complaint, you may put yourself or others in danger. You may worry about your job, your home, or your property. Finally, you may be afraid that those you name in your complaint may retaliate against you.

To retaliate is to act in a way that harms a person because they have done any of the following

We take retaliation seriously. This includes the threat of retaliation.

There are a lot of things you can do to keep yourself safe when you file a complaint with us.

If you are not sure of the risks you may face, contact us or an organization you trust to talk about what to do.

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Does my name have to appear in the complaint?

No. You can ask to file an anonymous complaint. This means that you will NOT be named or identified in the complaint. We still need your name and contact information to contact you about your complaint.

The first time we talk with you, we will talk about what it means to file an anonymous complaint. We take your privacy seriously.

How does the CORE protect my information?

The personal information you give to us is protected under 2 Canadian laws: the Privacy Act and the Access to Information Act. It is illegal for us to use your information for any purpose that is NOT related to your complaint unless you give us your consent. We will make every effort to keep your information confidential. This would only change if we received a court order.

If we decide that we can work with your complaint, then we will give the Canadian company your name or the name of the person, organization, or community that you are filing the complaint for unless you ask us NOT to.

We will NOT give your contact information to the Canadian company. If you file a complaint for another person, organization, or community, then we will NOT give the Canadian company their contact information.

We will also ask you for information about yourself that you 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 face. This information does NOT include anything that could identify you.

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Can I get help in the process?

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 can NOT tell you what to do, but we will help you to find out what information you need to file the complaint.

If we can NOT take your complaint, then we will try to find another organization to help you. We will work with you through the process once we decide to take your complaint.

Do I need a lawyer?

You do NOT need a lawyer for this process. If you think you need legal help, then we can help you to find legal help that is free or inexpensive.

You can ask someone you trust to help you.

You may want to get help from a local public rights organization that works with human rights, or an organization that provides services to human rights defenders. We can give you the contact and other information for these organizations.

Contact us by email –
by telephone – 1-343-203-5060 and leave a message
by postal mail – Send your complaint to:
Office of the Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise

125 Sussex Dr. Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0G2, Canada

Do you accommodate special needs?

We can accommodate special needs. We want to remove any barriers so that you can take part in the process. Let us know what accommodation you need.

Contact us
Telephone 1-343-203-5060
Postal mail: Office of the Canadian
Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise
125 Sussex Dr.
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0G2, Canada

What is intersectionality?

Intersectionality is a way to understand how a combination of personal characteristics affects us. We all have these personal characteristics:

The ways that these characteristics come together in each person is called “intersectionality.” It can affect the opportunities that we have and do NOT have in our lives. It can also affect our risk of retaliation .

For example, sexual harassment is something many women experience. However, a migrant worker may NOT speak the language where she is working. This may put her at a higher risk of sexual harassment because the harasser knows she will find it harder to complain.

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How can I file a complaint?

You can file a complaint in any of these ways:

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How will you contact me?

You tell us the best way to reach you. The online complaint form asks you what is best.

If you ask us to contact you by telephone, you can also tell us the best time to reach you.

How can the CORE help me?

We include you

The first thing we do is make sure that you have a voice in solving a problem, and that you can take part in the process. We do this because we know that some people have more power than others.

In our role as an ombud, we try to address any imbalance of power between the parties as we work with a complaint. This includes helping you to do these things:

We have a flexible process

We have several ways to solve a complaint. We can try one and, if it doesn’t work, we can try another. These are some ways we try to resolve complaints:

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We recommend ways to fix any harm caused

If we decide that a Canadian company abused any human rights, then we will recommend ways for the company, the Canadian government, and others to fix the harm. We do this in several ways.

We are NOT a court. We do NOT have the power to make people or companies take specific actions.

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Will I be paid compensation if my human rights have been abused?

If we decide that the Canadian company abused any human rights, then we will recommend ways for the company to fix the harm they caused.

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

We can tell a Canadian company to fix the harm, but we can NOT force them to do it.

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How can I get more information?

Any person, organization, or community can contact us for more information for these reasons:

You do NOT have to give us your name when you contact us. Your contact with us can be anonymous or confidential.

Anonymous means that you will NOT be named or identified.
Confidential means that when you give us information for a particular purpose, we use it for that purpose only. The exception to this is if a court orders us to use or share the information.

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How long does it take to resolve a complaint?

It depends on your situation. We try to work within these time frames:

We may also take other steps to resolve your complaint.

What is a review?

A review is like an investigation. We can review the complaint with you and the company or we can review it on our own.

We call working with you and the company “joint fact-finding.” In this kind of review, you and the company work with a facilitator and other experts to gather information.

We call reviewing your complaint on our own “independent fact-finding.” In this kind of review, we gather information, conduct interviews, and speak with the company. We will speak with experts and may visit your country.

During both kinds of review, the goal is to find out if a human rights abuse happened or is still happening.

The complaint may be resolved at any step in this process.

At the end of a review, we will report publicly on the facts of your complaint and whether we have found a human rights abuse. If we decide there has been a human rights abuse, then we will recommend remedies . We will look for ways to fix the problem and stop it from happening again.

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Are there other places where I can file a complaint?

You may be able to file a complaint with a company if you think they have abused your human rights. Some companies have processes to deal with human rights complaints.

Many countries also have National Contact Points or NCPs to help you resolve human rights complaints against a company. There are 49 countries that have NCPs to accept complaints. If an NCP accepts your complaint, it will work with you and the company. NCPs offer these services to resolve an issue:

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What are the CORE’s values?

These are the values that guide our work.

We are independent

Our decisions are NOT influenced by any of these:

We work in a fair and impartial way.
We do NOT favour one party over another. As an ombud, it is our job to listen to both sides of a dispute. We take care to give everyone an equal voice in resolving a complaint.
Our work is transparent and we are accountable.
We communicate clearly and openly with everyone who has taken part in our complaint process and we publish the results of our work.

We work to make our complaint process accessible.
Our services are free and our work is informal. We do all that we can to make it easy for anyone to use our services. We also offer extra support for people who need it.

As part of our commitment to fairness and addressing power imbalances, we have a policy statement on racial equity

Where can I send a complaint about the CORE?

If you have a complaint about how we work, please send it to us in writing. Someone from our office will reply to your complaint.

Postal mail: Office of the Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise
125 Sussex Dr.
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0G2, Canada

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