Corporate Social Responsibility
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is defined as the voluntary activities undertaken by a company to operate in an economic, social and environmentally sustainable manner. Canadian companies recognize the value of incorporating CSR practices into their operations abroad. Operating responsibly also plays an important role in promoting Canadian values internationally and contributes to the sustainable development of communities.
Canada is a strong supporter of CSR. The Government of Canada expects and encourages all Canadian companies working internationally to respect all applicable laws and international standards, to operate transparently and in consultation with host governments and local communities, and to conduct their activities in a socially and environmentally responsible manner. We work with the Canadian business community, civil society groups, foreign governments and communities, as well as other stakeholders to foster and promote CSR.
Canada’s CSR Strategy
In March 2009, building on its long-standing commitment to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and its Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, the Government of Canada announced Building the Canadian Advantage: A Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Strategy for the Canadian International Extractive Sector. To view the Strategy announcement, please see the News Release: Minister Day Announces New Initiatives to Support Responsible Practices for Canadian Businesses Abroad.
The four pillars of the Strategy are:
- 1. Support for host country capacity-building initiatives related to resource governance and for host countries to benefit from these resources to reduce poverty;
- 2. Promote the following widely-recognized voluntary international CSR performance guidelines:
- The OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (DFAIT chairs and provides the secretariat for Canada’s National Contact Pointfor the OECD Guidelines);
- The International Finance Corporation Performance Standards on Social and Environmental Sustainability;
- The Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights; and
- The Global Reporting Initiative
- 3. The Office of the Extractive Sector CSR Counsellor;
- 4. The development of the Centre for Excellence in CSR.
The CSR Strategy was informed by consultations undertaken with a number of stakeholders, including the "National Roundtables on Corporate Social Responsibility and the Canadian Extractive Sector in Developing Countries," as well as recommendations made by the former Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade (SCFAIT). On June 22, 2005, SCFAIT tabled the report Mining in developing countries - Corporate Social Responsibility. DFAIT led the preparation of The Government’s response, which was tabled on October 17, 2005. In 2006, the Government of Canada organized the multi-stakeholder National Roundtables, which provided an opportunity to encourage a practical and solutions-oriented dialogue on ways to expand the knowledge and capacity of Canadian companies to conduct their operations in a socially and environmentally sustainable manner.
Anti-Corruption and Bribery
Canada's legislation to implement the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions, the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act (CFPOA), came into force on February 14, 1999. The Act makes it a criminal offence to bribe a foreign public official in the course of business. Under this law, individuals as well as corporations can be prosecuted for offenses committed inside and outside of Canada. The CFPOA reinforces Canada's leadership role in fighting corruption and promoting good business practices at an international level and confirms the Government's commitment to the OECD Convention.
Canada joined the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) in February 2007, as a supporting country and donor. The EITI supports improved transparency in resource-rich developing countries through the full publication and verification of company payments and government receipts from oil, gasand mining operations.
Active Promotion of CSR
Canada’s network of diplomatic missions abroad actively promotes CSR guidelines through seminars, conferences, workshops and other activities involving companies, representatives of host governments and civil society; and provides advice to companies and stakeholders related to CSR.
Canada promotes CSR in a number of multilateral fora including the OECD, the Group of Eight, the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation, the Organization of American States, la Francophonie, and the Commonwealth.
Canada’s efforts are further advanced by including voluntary provisions for CSR in its most recent free trade agreements (FTAs) and foreign investment promotion and protection agreements (FIPAs). Read more on Canada's trade Negotiations and Agreements.
Canadian companies, civil society, and government have been at the forefront of efforts to create a global consensus on responsible mining and sourcing practices to address the phenomenon of “conflict minerals” in the gold, tin, and tantalum and tungsten sectors. Canada supports the OECD Due Diligence Initiative for responsible supply chains of conflict minerals. In addition, Canada has provided strategic funding of key projects towards peace and prosperity in the Great Lakes Region and provided funding in the 2009-2010 fiscal year to 50 corporate social responsibility projects and initiatives in over 30 countries around the world.
CSR E-Bulletin and Related Links
The CSR E-Bulletin provides subscribers with relevant, up-to-date information detailing DFAIT and the Government of Canada’s CSR initiatives both at home and abroad. We trust that you will find these issues informative, and look forward to hearing your feedback with regards to this new resource. If you wish to be added to the distribution list, please send a message to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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