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What you need to know about filing a complaint

Working with the CORE, the Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise, is a process with a lot of possibilities. Here is information about the 3 main things you need to know about filing a complaint with us:

Questions?

Email: complaints-plaintes@core-ocre.gc.ca

We can answer your questions and give you information about how we work with a complaint. If we can NOT work with your complaint, we will look for other organizations that may be able to help you.

You do NOT have to give us your name. We want to make it as easy as possible for you to file a complaint.

If you need help to file a complaint or require an accommodation measure to interact with us, please let us know and specify what your needs are when contacting us.

By email at complaints-plaintes@core-ocre.gc.ca

By telephone at 1-343-203-5060. You will have to leave a voice mail message.
By mail at The Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise, 125 Sussex Drive, 125 Sussex Dr., Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0G2, Canada

Before you file a complaint

What is the CORE?

We are an ombud, set up to protect and promote human rights. We are also part of the Canadian government.

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

We work with the information you give us and information we gather. This may include sharing information, mediation, and fact-finding.

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If we decide that a Canadian company abused any human rights, then we will recommend ways to stop the abuse. We will also recommend remedies for the company, the Canadian government, and others to fix the harm.

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

Note that we are NOT a court or a tribunal. We can NOT make people or companies carry out our recommendations. Nor can we protect complainants or others from retaliation if they have filed a complaint with us or taken part in the complaint process. However, we can offer other options.

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How does the CORE work?

We are a human rights Ombud. We believe that Canadian companies must respect human rights wherever they do business.

We know that some people have more power than others. This can make a complaint process unfair. We try to make sure that everyone has a voice in solving a problem, and that everyone can take part.

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.

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What can I complain about?

We only accept complaints about possible human rights abuses.

To file a complaint with us, 3 conditions must be met. These are called the admissibility criteria.

Admissibility criteria1. There is a possible human rights abuse2. The possible abuse happened outside Canada, by a Canadian company working in the garment, mining, or oil and gas sector3. The possible abuse started after May 1, 2019 OR if it started before May 1, 2019 it is still going on
What the admissibility criteria means

Examples of human rights abuses:

  • NOT paid fairly
  • made to work in conditions that are NOT safe
  • forced to work without pay
  • land has been taken away
  • water is polluted

Treated poorly because of these:

  • gender
  • skin colour
  • religion
  • language
  • nationality
  • other personal characteristics

The company can also be a company controlled by a Canadian company.

The abuse can happen during any part of a company’s work:

  • exploration
  • working with raw goods
  • manufacturing
  • transporting
  • distribution
  • disposal

You can complain about any possible abuse that is happening now.

You can NOT complain about abuse that started before May 1, 2019 if it is no longer happening.

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What about safety?

You may worry that if you file a complaint with us, 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. We talk to you about retaliation from our first contact with you.

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If you are worried about your safety or the safety of other people, we talk to you about safety before we take any action. That can mean, for example, that you can file a complaint without using your name.

How much does it cost?

There is no cost for filing a complaint.

You do NOT need a lawyer for this process. You can hire a lawyer if you want, or you can ask someone you trust to help you.

How can the CORE help me?

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.

Contact us
By email at complaints-plaintes@core-ocre.gc.ca
By telephone at 1-343-203-5060. You will have to leave a voice mail message.
By mail at The Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise, 125 Sussex Drive, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0G2, Canada

You do NOT have to give your name when you contact us.

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What does the CORE do if it finds there was a human rights abuse?

Do I have to decide 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.

How to file a complaint

How can I file a complaint?

You can file a complaint in any of these ways:

We will do all that we can to let you know that we got your complaint. We usually reply by email within 10 working days. If you file your complaint by telephone, leave a message and we will call you back. We will contact you if we need more information.

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. There are times when we can NOT promise confidentiality. We will talk to you about that.

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How does the CORE protect a person’s information?

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.

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

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 to The Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise, 125 Sussex Drive, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0G2, Canada

- by email

- by telephone

- If by telephone, what is the best time to reach you?

yourself

another person

an organization

a community

If you are filing for someone other than yourself, can you show us that they agree to have you file the complaint for them? See “Can I file a complaint for someone else?”

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What is a Canadian company? Information for Canadian companies

- Do you live near it?

- Do you work there?

- Do you know people who work there?

- What happened?

- Where?

- Who was involved?

- What was said? What was done?

- Were any laws broken? Which ones?

- Did you talk to the company? If so, what happened?

- Did you file a complaint? If so, who did you complain to? For example, did you complain to any of these: a government office; the police; a trade union; a court

You must include a “Statement of truthfulness.” This is a sentence you send to us to tell us that the information you put in your complaint is true, based on what you know.

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 package the cotton to ship it 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 with chemicals to grow the cotton. Our water is bad. The farmers’ sheep are dying. People have trouble breathing, including our children at school. I can give you names of people if you want.

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

The information I am giving you is true, based on what I know.

Please contact me by email at anamaram@gmail.com

Will I get compensation for my lost human rights?

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:

More information

Can the CORE decide NOT to deal with my complaint?

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

These are the reasons we may decide NOT to deal with your complaint:

The complaint process

What is the complaint process?

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

Intake

The first step is intake. During Intake, we do 4 things:

  1. Receive your complaint
    • We usually tell you within 10 working days of getting it that we got your complaint
  1. Hold an intake interview
    • We may 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
    • During the interview, we try to find out if your complaint meets our admissibility criteria
  1. To meet our admissibility criteria your complaint must have information about these 3 things:
    • that you are complaining about human rights that have been abused
    • 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
    • that it started after May 1, 2019 OR it started before then and is still going on
  1. 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.

More information

This information does NOT include anything that could identify you.

Contacting the Canadian company

We may need to contact the Canadian company. We will do this if we need more information to help us decide if we can work with your complaint. Wetwill only do this if you agree.

Deciding if we can work with your complaint

If we decide that we can work with your complaint, then we will talk with you about next steps. We will ask you if you will let us tell the company about your complaint. If you agree, then we will give the company 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 file a complaint for another person, organization, or community, then we will NOT give the Canadian company their contact information.

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If you filed your complaint anonymously, then we will NOT give the company any information that could identify you.

If we decide that we can NOT work with your complaint, then we will try to find another organization to help you. We will tell you why we can NOT work with your complaint and then we will close your file.

We will do all that we can to finish the intake process within 30 working days of when you file a complaint. This time starts after we tell you that we got your complaint.

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Initial assessment

The second step is the initial assessment. During this step we do 4 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 it
  1. 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
    • If you and the company do NOT agree on a solution, then we will talk to both of you about next steps
  1. Suggest ways to come to a solution
    • First we will suggest mediation. During mediation, you and the company agree to work with a mediator to sort out your disagreement. A mediator is trained to do this work and does NOT take sides
    • If either you or the company does NOT want to try mediation, then we will look into the complaint ourselves. We call this “a review”. You can always try mediation later on if you and the company agree
  1. Write a report
    • We may write a report on the initial assessment. If we do, then you and the company will each get a copy of it. Each of you will be able to comment on the report before we post it on our website. When we post the report, we will also give a copy to the Canadian government.
    • We will do all that we can to finish the initial assessment within 90 working days of when you file a complaint. If we need more time, then we will let you know. You can email us at any time to find out what is happening. You can also call. Our telephone number is 1-343-203-5060.

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Mediation

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 a review instead. You can also try mediation again later. We will tell you 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 4 things:

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

We make mediation fair by doing 3 things:

We may also help you find these things:

Review

If you choose NOT to take part in mediation, then we will start a review. During the review, we gather information about the human rights abuse you reported in your complaint to find how it happened or is still happening.

We gather information in 2 ways:

Making a public report with recommendations

When we finish our review, we will write a report with recommendations.

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

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

If we decide to stop a review, we will write a report and give our reasons for stopping it.
We post our report on our website.

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Follow-up

After we have posted our report, we will check in with you and the company about these things that our recommendations are being carried out:

Do I get to take part?

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

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Everyone who takes part in our complaint process must “act in good faith”. This means you must do 3 things:

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 can NOT be fixed, then we may stop the review Acting in good faith requires a Canadian company to NOT retaliate against a complainant.

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

We take retaliation seriously.

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

More information

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. You may be able to come back later to re-open the file.

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