Mechanism to receive complaints of human rights violations by Canadian companies expected to launch in late November

Published by Brent Patterson on

Share This Page

On November 3, iPolitics reported: “A new office formed by the Trudeau government to handle complaints of human-rights abuses perpetrated by Canadian companies operating overseas is set to go operational this month — but without the power to compel firms to hand over evidence.”

“The Canada Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise (CORE), which was first announced in January 2018, is close to finalizing its operating procedures, and expects to launch its complaints mechanism at the end of November.”

“As it was first envisioned, CORE would independently investigate, report on, and recommend remedies for complaints of bad conduct abroad. In April 2019, the government announced that lawyer Sheri Meyerhoffer would be CORE’s ombudsperson.”

“According to the [latest draft operating procedures], the complaints mechanism would offer both parties a collaborative dispute-resolution process before the ombudsperson reviews the allegations of bad conduct. The review would require both parties to act in good faith, including by: meeting the ombudsperson’s requests for evidence; participating in joint fact-finding exercises; and not retaliating against complainants.”

“The failure of companies subject to a review to do so could result in a recommendation that Ottawa stop any trade advocacy and financial support of the firms. But there would be no legal obligation for companies to provide information.”

The iPolitics article also notes: “After a review is completed, the ombudsperson would write a report and recommend changes, including to the company’s practices and policies, and whether to refer the matter to law enforcement.”

The most recent draft of the Operating Procedures for the Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise can be read here.

Section 5.1 of those Operating Procedures notes: “There is no required format for making a request to file a complaint.”

It adds: “A request may be made using the online form, by email to, by telephone at (number to be established) or by postal mail to the Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise at following address: (to be provided).”

A media release on UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet’s visit to Canada in June 2019 had noted: “[Bachelet] encouraged the authorities to ensure the Ombudsperson will have sufficient powers to independently and effectively investigate allegations of human rights abuses under its mandate.”

Emily Dwyer from the Canadian Network on Corporate Accountability (CNCA) has commented: “[CORE] does not have the basic minimum powers that are required for it to do anything meaningful for impacted communities and workers who’ve been harmed by the overseas operations of Canadian companies.”

The CNCA’s Approach with Caution document can be read here.

PBI-Canada is a member of the CNCA. We will provide a further update when the complaints mechanism is launched. Despite the limitations of CORE, we expect that PBI accompanied organizations are likely to submit complaints to this office.

Share This Page
Categories: News Updates


Leave a Reply

Avatar placeholder

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *