How CORE works: Plain language operating procedures
Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise
Ombudsman canadien de la responsabilité des entreprises
Telephone | Téléphone : (343) 203-7096
125 Sussex Drive, Ottawa, ON Canada K1A 0G2
1. Mandate of the Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise (the CORE)
1.1 The work of the Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise (the CORE) is described by Order in Council 2019-1323 (Order in Council). Our work is mainly the following:
- give advice about how to respect human rights as part of responsible business conduct (RBC):
- to Canadian companies
- that work in other countries
- in the garment, mining, and oil and gas sectors
- set up processes to do the following:
- allow people, organizations, and communities to file complaints about possible human rights abuses
- allow us to review possible human rights abuses
- allow us to offer informal mediation services to stop and remedy human rights problems, or to keep them from getting worse
These processes are limited to Canadian companies working in other countries in the garment , mining , and oil and gas sectors.
- recommend the following:
- actions to settle human rights abuses
- remedies for people affected by human rights abuses
- ways to change the practices and policies of Canadian companies working in other countries to improve respect for human rights
- trade measures the Canadian government can take against Canadian companies working in other countries
- advise the Minister on any issues that relate to our work
- recommend that the Minister review the RBC and the policies about how they fund and provide services to Canadian companies
1.2 We take a generous approach to how to interpret human rights and what to do to respect human rights. Human rights are for everyone.
This is the approach we take in our work and how we understand our Order in Council.
1.3 If there is a difference between these Operating Procedures (OPs) and the Order in Council then we will follow what is set out in the Order in Council.
2. What we mean by these words
acting in good faith Parties involved in a CORE process will deal fairly with one another and with the CORE.
admissibility criteria We can work with many kinds of human rights complaints. There are also some that we can NOT work with. Our admissibility criteria set out which complaints we can work with.
allegations These are accusations a complainant makes about possible human rights abuses before the complaint has been reviewed by the Ombud or the CORE.
anonymous This mean that a person is NOT named or identified.
arbitration This is a process that both parties agree to follow. We help the parties to find an arbitrator who is trained to make decisions about disputes without going to court. The arbitrator makes the decision for the parties and does NOT take sides.
Canadian company This is a company that meets one or more of the following:
- it is incorporated under Canadian law
- it is controlled by a company that is incorporated under Canadian law
- it is controlled by any Canadian company
We work with Canadian companies that operate in the following sectors:
Canadian NCP NCP stands for national contact point.
- It was created by the Government of Canada following the OECD Guidelines
- Other countries who follow the OECD Guidelines also have national contact points. It keeps track of Canadian companies that work outside of Canada. It can give information to Canadian companies, help guide their work, and offer services including mediation.
Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise (the CORE) This refers to both the office of the CORE and the person who is the head of the CORE. Throughout these OPs, the CORE is referred to by the pronouns “we,” “us,” and “our.”
complainant This is a person, organization, or community that files a complaint about human rights abuse. It is also a person who files such a complaint for another person, organization, or community.
engagement This is a process of building relationships with people in order to work with them to strengthen respect for human rights. It includes resolving disputes about human rights.
confidential, confidentiality agreement This refers to information that the CORE collects and will NOT share with others, unless it must, or it has received permission. If that information is collected for a particular purpose and it is confidential, it can be used only for that particular purpose.
frivolous This describes a complaint that does NOT include enough useful facts to show that the CORE can accept the complaint.
garment sector Garments include clothing and footwear. Companies work in this area when they do the following:
- make raw materials such as cloth or leather
- make such things as clothing and footwear
- move, use, and dispose of the raw materials or finished products such as clothing and footwear
HRRM Human Rights Responsibility Mechanism The HRRM sets out how the CORE works with possible human rights abuses.
human rights abuse This refers to internationally recognized human rights. A person abuses human rights when they do one or both of the following:
- act in a way that takes away any of these rights
- make it harder for a person or community to claim their human rights
human rights defenders This refers to a person or a group of people who work to promote or protect human rights.
independent fact-finding This is a way for the Ombud to find out if a human rights abuse has taken place. They collect information and use it to examine the claims made in the complaint. They document what they find, and decide what facts to use.
Interim report The Ombud may make public reports while a review is going on to show what is happening. An interim report is made before the final report becomes public.
internationally recognized human right This includes any of the human rights referred to in international treaties, and instruments, including the following documents:
- Universal Declaration of Human Rights
- International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
- International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
- United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
joint fact-finding The Ombud brings the parties involved in a complaint together to work on a review. Together, the parties must try to do the following:
- agree on what information is needed and how to gather it
- agree on the expertise needed to deal with the information
- help to gather and analyze information, including managing these activities
- identify the facts that they disagree on
- try to agree on facts
- use the facts and information the parties agree on to come up with remedies
mandate A mandate gives the authority to a person or body to do certain work.
marginalized This describes people and groups of people who live with disadvantage and discrimination.
mediation Parties agree to sort out a disagreement with the help of a mediator. A mediator is trained to do this work and does NOT take sides.
mining sector Companies work in this area when they do the following:
- explore for rocks, minerals, metals, and other geological material
- extract and move geological material
- handle, smelt, and refine geological materials
- use geological materials to make alloys and other products
- clean up or remediate mining worksites
Minister In these OPs, the Minister refers to Canada’s Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade.
OECD guidelines OECD stands for Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. In these OPs, OECD guidelines refers to the Guidelines for multinational enterprises.
oil and gas sector Companies work in this area when they do the following:
- explore for oil and gas
- extract, process, and move any oil and gas
- clean up or remediate the oil and gas worksites
Ombud This informal title refers to the head of the CORE, the Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise. The Ombud is a special advisor to the Minister of International Trade. This office was set up by the Order in Council 2019-0300.
Ombud-initiated review The Ombud may review a possible human rights abuse even if no one has filed a complaint about it.
problem solving This is an informal process. We work with the parties in a dispute to get clear about what the problem is and what solutions or options may solve the problem.
public We make something public when we put it on our website.
retaliation This is any action or treatment that has a negative effect on a person because they have done any of the following:
- contacted the CORE
- filed a complaint
- participated in the HRRM
review During a review, we gather information and look for the facts we need to decide if a Canadian company has abused any human rights.
terms of settlement These are what the parties agree to when they decide together how to resolve a dispute.
UN Guiding Principles In these OPs these refer to the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
vexatious A complaint is called vexatious when someone does one or both of the following:
- files a complaint using information that they know is false
- files a complaint only to annoy, embarrass, harass, or harm another person
vulnerability This refers to a situation where a person or a community may be harmed or NOT have their human rights respected.
3. Introduction to using the operating procedures, the OPs
3.1 These OPs give you information about the CORE and how we work. There are many actions we can take to work with possible human rights abuses. These are set out in the Human Rights Responsibility Mechanism, the HRRM .
3.2 We may change the OPs from time to time. Before we make any major changes, we consult with our stakeholders. These include individuals, communities, organizations, and Canadian companies.
Note: “We” refers to the CORE.
The Human Rights Responsibility Mechanism -- HRRM
3.3 We start the HRRM for one of the following:
- a person, organization, or community files a complaint with us
- the Ombud decides to start a review of a possible human rights abuse
- a person, organization, or community or a Canadian company asks us for informal mediation services
3.4 We created the HRRM to give us different ways to work with people, organizations, communities, and Canadian companies to increase respect for human rights. The HRRM includes the following processes for working with a human rights dispute:
- using mediation
- using joint fact-finding and independent fact-finding
- making recommendations to the parties involved and other people
- reporting to the public
The HRRM also relies on good practices for ombuds. This includes using a problem-solving approach that includes the following:
- information sharing
- facilitated negotiation
The Ombud’s work also includes the following:
- making recommendations to the parties involved in HRRM, and to other bodies that could help
- following up on their recommendations
- reporting our work publicly
3.5 We carry out the HRRM in ways that are predictable, flexible, fair, and transparent. We pay attention to the following:
- each party’s resources
- what the dispute is about
- each party’s approach to the dispute
We look at whether the process may need to be confidential or anonymous . We also consider our resources and our workload.
CORE is NOT a court. We provide ways to address human rights disputes that are less formal than a court. We can NOT enforce the Ombud’s decisions or recommendations. We can offer other options.
3.6 We are committed to using HRRM processes to do the following:
- address differences in power among the parties
- make sure all parties are treated fairly regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, age, and other characteristics
- consider how those differences affect and connect to each other
- look for ways to improve fairness for marginalized people, people who are in vulnerable conditions and those at risk of violence. This is particularly important for Black and Indigenous people.
3.7 If you need accommodation for a disability, or you need any kind of help to take part in the HRRM, contact us.
Informal mediation services
3.8 We may offer informal mediation services even if no complaint has been filed and we have NOT started an Ombud-initiated review . We may offer you the services of one of the mediators who works with CORE, or help you to set up your own mediation process.
3.9 We answer questions like these to decide whether we will offer informal mediation services.
- Is the human rights issue within the work we are authorized to do?
- What effects could our work have on the human rights of the people or the community involved?
- Will informal mediation likely help to prevent or stop a human rights abuse from happening or getting worse?
- What other services or resources could the parties use?
- Do we have the resources we need to offer informal mediation services?
- Does our workload allow us to do this work now?
A group of garment workers contacts the CORE about unsafe working conditions. The factories where they work are owned by suppliers who make cloth for Canadian companies. The workers do not want to file a complaint but they want the Ombud to help them talk to the company about making conditions safer.
Instead of offering informal mediation, the Ombud decides to promote human rights with the Canadian company and its suppliers. The Ombud stays in touch with the garment workers and monitors whether the situation improves.
3.10 In addition to informal mediation, we consider whether other services we offer would be more useful, including the following:
- using engagement by building relationships with people and providing information about respecting human rights
- providing advice to Canadian companies about respecting human rights
- sharing information with all parties
4. Communication and timelines
4.1 We work in Canada’s official languages, English and French.
4.2 We ask all parties to communicate with us and send us documents in English or French if possible.
If you send a document that has been translated from another language, give us the document in its original language too, if possible.
4.3 If we work in languages other than English or French then it may take longer for us to deal with a complaint or carry out a review.
4.4 We will look for a flexible timeline for working with all parties.
4.5 We will do our best to let you know how we are handling a complaint by letting all parties know the following:
- what next steps we will take
- what timelines we plan to follow
- if there are any delays
5. Filing a complaint
5.1 You can file a complaint in any of these ways:
- using the online form
- by email to email@example.com
- by telephone at 1-343-203-5060
- by postal mail to the Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise at this address: 125 Sussex Drive, Ottawa ON K1A 0G2
5.2 Any person, organization, or community can contact us for the following:
- to find out about our complaints process
- to talk to us about a complaint or to talk about how to file a complaint for someone else
Contact with us can be anonymous and confidential .
Required information for filing a complaint
5.3 Include this information when you file a complaint
5.3.1 your name and contact information
5.3.2 the name and contact of the person you are filing the complaint for
5.3.3 if you want to keep your identity confidential
the person you are filing a complaint for wants to keep their identity confidential
5.3.4 if you or the person you are filing the complaint for wants to communicate in English or French
5.3.5 as much of the information as you can about each of the admissibility criteria in paragraph 5.6 of these OPs
5.3.6 the name and contact information of the Canadian company you refer to in the complaint, if you know the name
5.3.7 whether another body has reviewed this complaint or is reviewing it
5.4 If, by filing this complaint, you risk retaliation or harm to yourself or someone else then you may be able to file an anonymous complaint.
5.5 If you file a complaint for another person or group of people then we may ask you to show that the person or group has agreed to let you file the complaint for them.
5.6 The Ombud will decide at the intake stage whether a complaint is admissible.
5.7 A complaint is admissible when it meets each of the following
5.7.1 the possible abuse is about a human right that is recognized internationally
5.7.2 the possible abuse comes from the operations of a Canadian company working outside of Canada in the garment , mining , or oil and gas sectors
5.7 3 the possible abuse took place either
after May 1, 2019
OR if it began before May 1, 2019, it is still happening when the complaint is filed.
5.8 The Ombud will decide at this stage only whether a complaint is admissible. This decision is NOT about whether what the complaint says is true. It is NOT a decision on the facts of the dispute.
Letting you know that we received a complaint
5.9 We will do all that we can to let you know we received your complaint. We usually reply by email within 10 working days.
5.10 If you do NOT give us an email address
if you have asked us NOT to contact you by email
then we will do all that we can to mail you a letter within 10 working days of when we receive your complaint.
5.11 The intake process is informal. During this process we answer your questions about the HRRM and gather information about the complaint.
5.12 If a complaint is NOT one that we can work with
then we will tell you the following:
- why it is NOT within the work we are authorized to do
- we will try to refer you to another body for help.
5.13 If we think we can work with your complaint then we will contact you using the method you choose.
5.14 We may contact you during the intake process for any of these reasons:
- to help us understand the complaint
- to ask for information that is missing
- to ask for more information.
5.15 If you can NOT give us all the information we need about the admissibility criteria then we will set up a reasonable timeline for you to get the missing information to us.
- We will close the file if you can NOT give us the information we need about the admissibility criteria.
- We will reopen the file if you submit the complaint again and it contains all the information we need about the admissibility criteria.
5.16 We may need to contact the Canadian company in the complaint at the intake stage. We will do this only if we need information about the admissibility criteria. We will ask for your consent before we do this.
5.17 We will do all that we can to finish the intake process within 30 working days of when you file a complaint.
6. Decision on admissibility of a complaint
6.1 The intake stage is when the Ombud decides whether a complaint is admissible. They may make this decision at any time during the intake process. They may decide that some or all of the allegations in the complaint are admissible.
6.2 The Ombud will contact you, in writing if possible, to tell you their decision. They will also tell you which allegations are admissible. They will also tell the Canadian company named in the complaint, at the same time or as soon as possible. If the Ombud decides the complaint is admissible then you must keep the complaint and the Ombud’s decision confidential until after we have told the Canadian company named in the complaint about the complaint and the Ombud’s decision.
The Ombud has decided that a complaint is admissible. We tell the complainant about the Ombud’s decision over the phone because the complainant does NOT want us to use email or postal mail.
This means the complainant will know about the decision quickly. It will take longer to tell the Canadian company about the decision because we have to mail a letter to them. The complainant must keep the Ombud’s decision confidential until the Canadian company knows about it.
6.3 If the Ombud decides the complaint is admissible then they will give a summary of the admissible allegations to the Canadian company named in the complaint. They will do this before they start an initial assessment, or report on the complaint publicly.
7. Deciding not to work with a complaint
7.1 The Ombud may decide NOT to work with a complaint at any time during the intake process. Their reasons may include any of these:
7.1.1 the complaint is frivolous or vexatious .
7.1.2 the allegations in the complaint are being reviewed by another body
the allegations in the complaint have already been reviewed by another body.
The complainant started to work with an environmental defence organization. They started a court action in Chile, where the complainant lives, and it is about the same possible human rights abuse. The Ombud will decide whether it makes sense to go ahead with the complaint filed with us, or to wait to see what the court in Chile decides.
7.1.3 the same complaint or a similar one was already filed with us
this complaint does NOT give enough new or different information about the allegations
7.2 Following paragraph 7.1.2, if a complaint is being reviewed by another body and if that is the only reason the Ombud may decide NOT to work with the complaint
then we will look at questions such as the following:
- Is the other body likely to make a decision on the issues in the complaint?
- Will there be barriers for the complainant to participating with the other party because of cost, delays, or the complainant's vulnerability
- Is the other body likely to give the complainant a remedy that will help them?
7.3 If we decide NOT to work with a complaint
then we will give our reasons to the person, community, or organization that filed the complaint.
If we have told the Canadian company about the complaint against them before we decide NOT to work with it
then we will also give them the reasons we are NOT working with the complaint. We will do this in writing if possible.
7.4 If we have NOT told the Canadian company about the complaint against them before we decide NOT to work with it
if it is in the public interest to do so then we may share information about the complaint with the Canadian company. We will NOT identify the person, organization, or community that filed the complaint or who had a complaint filed on their behalf.
8. Initial assessment
8.1 We can begin an initial assessment after checking in with the complainant to confirm that they want to proceed. We check for the complainant’s consent at every stage of the HRRM .
If we decide to do an initial assessment
if the complainant agrees then we may use a problem-solving approach .
Problem solving includes using information sharing, dialogue, and facilitated negotiation.
8.2 If we are NOT able to resolve a complaint with both parties during the initial assessment
then we will work with the parties to find a process for working with the complaint. Mediation is one process the parties can choose to work with.
8.3 If the parties do NOT agree to mediation then we will begin a review of the complaint.
Reporting on an initial assessment
8.4 If we write a report of the initial assessment
then we may do the following 2 things:
- give a copy of the report to the parties involved
If we do NOT write a report
then we will make the results of the initial assessment public either
- in our first report on the complaint
- in our Annual Report
The CORE completes an initial assessment quickly because the complainant does NOT want to try mediation. The complainant is worried that what they say is a human rights abuse is getting worse. The Ombud waits until later to make a public report about the initial assessment in order to begin a review right away. Six months later, the Ombud makes a public interim report about the complaint. They include the progress of the review and what happened at the initial assessment. After the public interim report, the parties agree to try mediation.
8.5 We will NOT make a report on the complaint public until we finish the initial assessment of the complaint.
8.6 When we work on an initial assessment, we will do all that we can to complete the initial assessment within 90 working days.
9.1 In our role as an Ombud, we aim to do the following
9.1.1 address any imbalance of power between the parties when we work to settle a dispute. This includes helping people, organizations, and communities to do the following:
- find legal help that is free or inexpensive
- find a way to interpret their language and translate documents if they can NOT work in English or French
- give contact and other information about civil society organizations that may help. For example, if there is retaliation against a complainant , we may suggest that they contact organizations that provide services to human rights defenders .
9.1.2 make mediation accessible to all parties
A complainant wants to try mediation but is worried. They do not speak English or French and they live a long way from a large city. We try to make mediation more accessible for the complainant by working with them over the internet. This virtual mediation includes an interpreter.
9.1.3 use problem solving to help parties resolve human rights abuses
9.2 If we decide to offer mediation then the Ombud and the parties can agree to use it at any stage of the complaint process.
9.3 We can use a flexible approach and can move back and forth between mediation and the review processes. If we use both processes then we will follow the confidentiality agreements signed by the parties for both mediation and joint fact-finding .
A complainant wants to try mediation but wants the Ombud to do some fact-finding first. The Ombud begins a review using independent fact-finding. They also make public an interim report. After the interim report. the Canadian company agrees to mediation.
The parties meet with a mediator. During mediation they agree on remedies for the complainant and actions that the Canadian company will take to increase respect for human rights.
9.4 We may offer mediation at any time to help resolve a complaint, or to help parties work with an Ombud-initiated review . Reasons for doing so include the following:
- to stop a disagreement from escalating
- to stop a human rights abuse
- to help parties work together for joint fact-finding
9.5 If both parties agree to use mediation then both parties will sign an agreement to mediate.
The agreement sets out the needs for confidentiality for each party.
9.6 If both parties agree to use mediation to resolve a complaint or to work with an Ombud-initiated review then we may hire a mediator, depending on factors such as resources, workload, and the resources each party is able to use.
9.7 If we do NOT hire a mediator
then we will try to help the parties to find a mediator they both agree to use.
9.8 We may attend a mediation as an observer. We will follow the confidentiality agreements signed by both parties.
9.9 If both parties use mediation to do any of the following:
- resolve a complaint or dispute
- reach an agreement about an issue or the facts in a dispute
- find a remedy
then we may want to share the agreement or information about the agreement publicly.
This may include sharing it through a report, if both parties agree. We will consult with the parties about whether to make the agreement or the information public
how and when to make it public.
If the parties do NOT consent
then we may share this information in a way that does NOT identify the parties.
If we share information by posting a report on our website
then we will NOT identify the parties.
9.10 If the parties reach an agreement through mediation
then we will keep track of whether the terms of settlement are carried out.
We may help the parties carry out the agreement if they ask us to or if they need help.
10. Review initiated by the Ombud
10.1 The Ombud may decide to start a review of a possible human rights abuse that falls within our work . This is called “an Ombud-initiated review” .
The criteria the Ombud uses to decide to start a review are posted on our website. These criteria help the Ombud choose which issue to work with in this process.
10.2 If the Ombud decides to start a review
then they will prepare a Notice of Ombud-Initiated Review.
At least 10 working days before the Ombud posts the notice on our website, they will give a copy to these parties:
- the Minister
- any other ministers whose departments have a connection to this review
- any Canadian company that is named in the notice
- any person, organization, or community that is named in the notice
10.3 The Notice of Ombud-Initiated Review will include information about each of the admissibility criteria. The admissibility criteria are set out in Section 5.6 of these OPs.
10.4 The first step in an Ombud-initiated review is to prepare the Terms of Reference. These terms describe what the review will include. The Ombud will post these terms on our website.
10.5 The Ombud will decide how to carry out the review. They will continue to give information to the person listed in Section 10.2 about this work as needed.
11. Conducting a review
Participation by the parties
11.1 Any person that is asked to take part in a review is expected to take these actions:
- provide all relevant information and documents
- make witnesses available on reasonable notice
- respond within the timelines set by the Ombud
11.2 If a Canadian company does NOT participate actively in a review
if they refuse to provide relevant information and documents then the Ombud may see these as negative actions during fact-finding.
11.3 If a party refuses to provide information, documents, or witnesses to the Ombud for a review
if they say they do NOT believe that any of these things is relevant to the review then the Ombud may give the parties a reasonable amount of time to provide information about the relevance of the Ombud’s request.
The Ombud will consider the parties’ positions and will make an independent decision.
11.4 If the parties or participants in a review agree to joint fact-finding then the Ombud will start a review using joint fact-finding .
11.5 The Ombud will start a review using joint fact-finding only if all the parties agree to use this process.
11.6 Joint fact-finding means that the parties involved may do the following:
- agree on how to gather information
- agree on the expertise needed to gather information
- help to gather and analyze information, including managing these activities
- identify the facts that are in dispute
- try to agree on facts
- use facts the parties agree on to come up with remedies
11.7 If joint fact-finding is NOT possible or is limited then the Ombud may use independent fact-finding .
Independent fact-finding means the Ombud may do the following:
- interview the parties
- interview any witnesses that the parties and others suggest
- ask the parties to send the Ombud written information
11.8 As part of independent fact-finding , the Ombud may also take the following steps:
- ask experts and host country governments for help
- carry out different kinds of research
- interview relevant people
- visit the countries involved
- ask for written information from industry associations, civil society organizations, and others that have an interest in the complaint
11.9 The Ombud may write interim reports while a review is going on. They will make a public report about ongoing reviews every 12 months.
12. Requirement to act in good faith
12.1 Everyone who takes part in an HRRM process including parties and witnesses must act in good faith at all times. This includes the following:
- during a review
- while carrying out the actions that are recommended in the review
- while carrying out the terms of settlement
12.2 Acting in good faith includes taking all of the following steps:
- keeping sensitive information confidential . This includes personal information and some kinds of business information
- following the requirements for confidentiality that are set out in the HRRM
- NOT giving us false information
- NOT giving incorrect information to the public about the process
12.3 Acting in good faith refers to a party's actions once they have decided to take part in joint fact-finding or mediation. It does NOT refer to a party’s decision to take part, or NOT to take part, in these activities.
NOT acting in good faith
12.4 If a party is the subject of an Ombud-initiated review
AND they do NOT take an active role
AND they do NOT give a reasonable explanation for this
then the Ombud may consider that they are NOT acting in good faith.
Acting in good faith includes taking all of these actions:
- providing relevant information and documents
- making witnesses available on reasonable notice
- responding within the timelines set by the Ombud
12.5 The Ombud may consider a Canadian company to be NOT acting in good faith for retaliating against a person, organization, or community for any of the following:
- they file a complaint
- someone files a complaint on their behalf
- they take part in the HRRM
12.6 The Ombud may consider a Canadian company to be NOT acting in good faith if it refuses to carry out any recommendations made by the Ombud,
if the company does NOT give a reasonable explanation for NOT following a recommendation made by the Ombud.
12.7 If the Ombud decides that a Canadian company has NOT acted in good faith during a review or the follow-up to the review then the Ombud may recommend that the Minister apply trade measures including these:
12.7.1 take away the company’s the trade support and advocacy of the Government of Canada.
12.7.2 refuse to give the company the trade support and advocacy of the Government of Canada in the future
12.7.3 refuse to give the company the financial support of the Government of Canada in the future
12.8 Retaliation is any action or treatment that has a negative effect on a person because they have done any of the following:
- contacted us
- filed a complaint
- participated in the HRRM
Retaliation may include any of the following:
- attempts by a Canadian company to identify a complainant or witness who has decided to participate anonymously in the HRRM
- threats or intimidation
- harassment including racial or sexual harassment
- smear campaigns in the workplace, in the community, or on social media
12.9 We take retaliation, including the threat of retaliation very seriously.
12.10 If there is a risk of retaliation to a person, organization, or community because they have contacted us or taken part in the HRRM
then we will assess the risk of retaliation and work to reduce the risk.
We may make a public report on the retaliation.
We will first consider whether doing so may increase the retaliation or the risk of further retaliation.
12.11 In light of Guiding Principle 13 of the UN Guiding Principles and the broad definition of Canadian company in the Order in Council ,
If a Canadian company controls another company, either directly or indirectly
if a complaint is made against the second company
then the Ombud may ask the Canadian company to use its business relationship to influence the behaviour of the second company.
If the Canadian company does NOT know about the complaint
then the Ombud may ask the complainant if they will agree to share that information with the Canadian company.
12.12 If the retaliation looks like it may be a crime
then the Ombud may recommend to the Minister to take the matter to law enforcement authorities.
During a review
13.1 The Ombud may make any of these recommendations while they are conducting a review:
13.1.1 If the work that a national contact point does is a better fit for the issues raised in the complaint then the Ombud may recommend to the parties that they take the matter to the Canadian National Contact Point (NCP) or the national contact point of another country.
13.1.2 If arbitration may be more useful for resolving the issues
then the Ombud may recommend to the parties that they take the matter to arbitration
13.1.3 If the Ombud discovers information that leads them to believe that someone may have committed a crime in Canada or another country or may be committing a crime in Canada another country
then the Ombud may recommend to the Minister to take to the matter to law enforcement authorities.
13.1.4 If the Ombud discovers information that leads them to believe that someone may have committed a regulatory offence in Canada or in another country
may be committing a regulatory offence in Canada or in another country then the Ombud may recommend to the Minister to take the matter to a regulatory authority or to the body with authority to address those offences.
13.1.5 The Ombud may decide at any time that an allegation of human rights abuse is proven or unproven.
13.2 If the Ombud discovers information that is set out in 13.1.3 or 13.1.4 and
if the complainant wants to continue with the HRRM
then the Ombud may continue to deal with anything in the complaint that relates to possible human rights abuse.
When a review is stopped or completed
13.3 The Ombud will write a report when they do one of the following:
- stop the review
- complete the review
The report may include recommendations such as the following:
13.3.1 recommendations listed in any subsection of section 13.1
13.3.2 recommendations for financial compensation, a formal apology, or any remedy suggested in the UN Guiding Principles , or any other appropriate remedy
13.3.3 recommendations to change a Canadian company’s policies, procedures and practices, or any action that increases respect for human rights
13.4 The Ombud may strengthen the recommendations by including the following:
- requirements for reporting
- other conditions
13.5 The Ombud will follow up on recommendations from a review after it is stopped or completed. They will make the report public and may include any of the following:
- a statement as to whether the Canadian company followed the recommendations
- any steps that may stop the human rights abuse
- any remedies for the human rights abuse
- other steps that may prevent a similar human rights abuse
- other steps that may prevent any retaliation against those who made the complaint or took part in the review
13.6 The Ombud will follow up and report publicly on whether the Canadian company is acting in good faith in following their recommendations .
13.7 If the Ombud decides that a Canadian company has NOT acted in good faith in following one or more of their recommendations
then the Ombud may recommend to the Minister take away the Canadian company’s trade support .
14. Stopping a review
14.1 The Ombud may stop the review of a complaint at any time, including for one or more of these reasons:
14.1.1 the complaint is frivolous or vexatious
14.1.2 the allegations in the complaint are being reviewed by another body
the allegation in the complaint have already been reviewed by another body
14.1.3 the same complaint or a similar one was already filed with the CORE
this complaint does NOT give enough new or different information about the allegations
14.1.4 there is not enough information for the Ombud to continue to review the complaint
14.1.5 the complainant is NOT taking an active role and they have NOT given a reasonable explanation for doing so. The Ombud will consider whether there are reasons why a complainant is NOT taking an active role, including the following:
- whether they have reliable access to secure ways to communicate
- if they want to proceed anonymously
- if anyone is retaliating against them
14.1.6 The Ombud can stop a review for one of these reasons:
- the parties have come to an agreement
- the parties have found an effective remedy for the possible human rights abuse
14.2 The Ombud will make a final public report that gives their reasons for stopping a review. The report may include recommendations to any person.
15. Requirement to submit and make reports public
15.1 The Ombud will give reports to the Minister 30 working days before they post a report on our website.
15.2 The Ombud will give any report that relates to the mining or oil and gas sectors to the Minister of Natural Resources and the Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade at the same time.
15.3 All reports will be public. We make a report public by posting it on our website in English and French.
16. Chance to comment on a report
16.1 If the Ombud decides that information in a report may have a negative effect on any person, including someone who is the subject of a review
then the Ombud will do the following:
16.1.1 before they post a report on our website, give the person a chance to comment on the following:
- the facts in the report
- the confidentiality of any information in the report
16.1.2 tell the person that any comments they make will be public
16.1.3 include in the report a summary of any comments the person makes
16.2 If any information in a report may have a negative effect because of when it will be made public
then the person who raises the negative effect may take their concerns to the Ombud about the timing of making the report public.
When the Ombud is asked to consider the timing of making a report public, they will also consider the public interest. This includes giving timely access to a remedy for people and communities affected by the issues in a complaint.
16.3 The Ombud will give any complainant a chance to comment on the facts in a report before the report is posted on our website. This is true whether or NOT the information in the report looks like it may have a negative effect on the complainant . The conditions described in subsections 16.1.1 to 16.1.3 will apply.
16.4 If the Ombud gives someone a chance to comment on the facts in a report
then the person must do so in writing either:
- within 30 working days
- following any other timeline the Ombud sets up
16.5 If the Ombud gives someone a chance to comment on the facts in a report then the person must keep those facts confidential until the Ombud publishes the final report.
17. Coordinating with the Canadian National Contact Point and the NCP Network
17.1 If you want to file a complaint about a possible human rights abuse by a Canadian company
that company works in another country, in the garment, mining, or oil and gas sectors
then you can file a complaint with one of the following bodies, among others:
17.2 If we receive a complaint about a possible human rights abuse that has taken place outside the garment, mining, or oil and gas sectors
then we will tell you whether the Canadian NCP may be responsible for dealing with the complaint.
If it looks like it is the right body
then we can recommend you send your complaint to the Canadian NCP
if you want us to, we can send your complaint to the Canadian NCP for you.
17.3 If we are reviewing a complaint about a Canadian company in a country where there is an NCP
then we will contact the NCP of that country and the Canadian NCP to tell them that a review is taking place.
If we want the NCP of the other country to co-operate
with the review
then we will try to take these steps:
- set up an agreement with the NCP of the country
- find a way to share information that is relevant to the review
- make sure the agreement respects the needs in the review for anonymity and confidentiality
18. Agreeing to arbitration
18.1 The Ombud may recommend to the parties at any time during a review that they take the matter to arbitration.
18.2 If the parties agree to arbitration
18.2.1 then the Ombud may help the parties transfer the matter to arbitration. The Ombud may help the parties find an arbitrator that everyone agrees to work with.
18.2.2 Someone from the CORE may attend the arbitration as an observer.
18.2.3 The Ombud will post a final report on our website about the complaint. The final report may include information about the arbitration including how it was resolved.
19.1 We collect statistics about what work we are doing and who we are working with. The information we collect shows how the complaints we work with relate to the OECD Guidelines and the UN Guiding Principles. We collect information on the following:
- what types of possible human rights abuses we work with
- the sector and region where they take place
- the race, ethnicity, gender, and other characteristics of HRRM participants
19.2 We will analyze these statistics to do the following:
- recognize trends and relate them to our work
- identify barriers to taking part in the HRRM
- understand how to improve the HRRM
- make recommendations to the Minister to strengthen our work
19.3 The Ombud will do the following:
- make these statistics public
- include the information in their annual report to the Minister
- make the statistics public in a way that people and communities are NOT identified unless they give their consent.
20.1 The Ombud will aim to carry out their work in a transparent way.
The Ombud will usually share information where it is relevant. This includes with the parties involved in a review and with any party that is the subject of a review.
20.2 Although we aim to be transparent, our work is also guided by these two Canadian acts:
20.3 The Canadian Privacy Act protects the personal information that we collect and use. Personal information that we collect for a particular purpose can be used only for that purpose. We use and share a person's personal information only when that person gives us their consent. The only exception to this is if a court orders us to use or share the information.
20.4 We have information from people who are not directly involved in filing a complaint. We call these people “third parties.” Third parties can include Canadian companies.
If someone asks for information about a third party using the Canadian Access to Information Act
then we will consult with the third party before we decide if we will share the information.
20.5 The Canadian Privacy Act and the Access to Information Act both set out exemptions. An exemption means that we DO NOT share the information. We will use these exemptions complaint depending on the facts of each situation.
20.6 The Ombud may sign non-disclosure agreements to protect information, including information that a Canadian company sees as confidential. This may include information about the company’s operations or finances. The terms of a non-disclosure agreement can protect a third party’s information until the Ombud shares it or posts a report on our website. We must honour any non-disclosure agreement that the Ombud signs.
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