The Office of the Corporate Social Responsibility Counsellor for the Extractive Sector
National Contact Point for OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises

Table of Contents

1. Purpose

This Protocol outlines the administrative relationship that governs the procedures and communication between the Counsellor and the NCP.

2. Background

2.1 CSR Counsellor for the Extractive Sector

As one of the pillars of the Government of Canada's CSR policy announced in March, 2009, (Building the Canadian Advantage: A Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Strategy for the Canadian International Extractive Sector), the Government created an office of the Extractive Sector Corporate Social Responsibility Counsellor ("Counsellor").

As outlined in the Order-in-Council of March 25, 2009, which created the position of the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Counsellor for the Extractive Sector, the mandate of the Counsellor is:

  • (a) to review the corporate social responsibility practices of Canadian extractive sector companies operating outside Canada; and
  • (b) to advise stakeholders on the implementation of the performance guidelines. The performance guidelines are defined in the OIC as the International Finance Corporation Performance Standards, the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human

Rights, the Global Reporting Initiative and the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, all of which deal with corporate social responsibility and are endorsed by the Government of Canada.

The Counsellor receives direction from and reports directly to the Minister of International Trade.

In 2014, the Government undertook a major review of the 2009 strategy.  This review was jointly coordinated by the Trade Commissioner Service of the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD) and Natural Resources Canada.  Other key stakeholders from within and outside of Government participated in the review. In November 2014, the Government publicly released its updated “enhanced” strategy, entitled “Doing Business the Canadian Way: A Strategy to Advance Corporate Social Responsibility in Canada’s Extractive Sector Abroad”.  The strategy refocuses the role of the Office of the CSR Counsellor and strengthens its mandate to:

  • Promote alignment with CSR guidelines to the Canadian extractive sector,
  • Advise companies on incorporating these guidelines into their modus operandi,
  • Prevent, detect and resolve if possible disputes in their early stages, particularly those that relate to the principles of practice and situational challenges covered by the international guidelines/standards of record
  • Work closely with Canada’s National Contact Point (OECD), and
  • Provide support to Canada’s Missions abroad and especially their trade commissioners as advocates for CSR with Canadian companies operating in country.

Two more recent international CSR guidelines were added:

  • The United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights
  • The OECD Due Diligence Guidance on Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas

and updated versions of already named guidelines referenced, namely the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (2011), and the International Finance Corporation’s Social and Environmental Performance Standards (2012), resulting in a total of six international CSR guidelines of record.

2.2 NCP

Canada has been a signatory to the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises ("Guidelines") since its inception in 1976. The Guidelines are a comprehensive set of corporate social responsibility standards which are endorsed by governments and recommended to corporations.

Countries that adhere to the Guidelines are required to establish and maintain a National Contact Point ("NCP").

The Canadian NCP's institutional structure is an interdepartmental committee. The members of the interdepartmental committee include representatives from Canadian International Development Agency, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, Environment Canada, Finance Canada, Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, Industry Canada, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, and Natural Resources Canada. The Secretariat is provided by DFAIT. The NCP committee is chaired by DFAIT at the Director General level.

The primary documents that outline the role and responsibilities of the NCPs are the "Procedural Guidance" chapter of the Guidelines, as well as the "Commentary on the Implementation Procedures of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises". According to the Procedural Guidance chapter of the Guidelines, the role of the NCP is "to further the effectiveness of the Guidelines". The responsibilities of the NCP consist of:

  • 1) making the Guidelines known and available;
  • 2) raising awareness of the Guidelines;
  • 3) responding to enquiries about the Guidelines;
  • 4) contributing to the resolution of issues that arise relating to the implementation of the Guidelines in specific instances, and;
  • 5) reporting annually to the OECD Investment Committee.

3. OIC Provisions Regarding the Responsibilities of the Counsellor and NCP

Section five (5) of the OIC provides:

    • 5.(2) The National Contact Point shall remain the primary authority concerning the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.
    • 5.(3) If a request for review is received by the Counsellor that relates only to the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, the Counsellor shall refer the request to the National Contact Point
    • 5.(4) If a request for review is received by the Counsellor or the National Contact Point that relates to the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and any other performance guidelines, the Counsellor shall lead the review and shall consult with the National Contact Point on issues relating to the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.

4. Communications

4.1. For purposes of efficient and effective management of case files and ensuring that files are dealt with by the appropriate office, the Counsellor and the NCP agree to communicate with a view resolving the matter.