Making a complaint to Canada’s National Contact Point
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The Canadian National Contact Point - Specific Instance Procedures - 2022 describe the process that Canada’s National Contact Point (NCP) follows when it receives a complaint, including:
- the role of Canada’s NCP
- how we assess your complaint
- admissibility criteria for the initial assessment of your complaint
- how “material and substantiated” is interpreted
- when the NCP will offer its good offices to facilitate dialogue
- the process leading to a final statement and follow-up
- details on how we protect your privacy
- a glossary
The Complaint handling procedure flow chart outlines the steps in the process, including timelines.
The NCP operates according to the core criteria of visibility, accessibility, transparency and accountability. The NCP is committed to handling cases in a way that is impartial, predictable, equitable and compatible with the Guidelines.
Prepare a complaint
Who can make a complaint
Any stakeholder with an interest who believes the actions of a multinational enterprise have breached the OECD Guidelines may file a complaint with the NCP. A complaint can be filed by any individual, organization, or community directed related with the issue that can demonstrate an interest (broadly defined) in reporting issues.
A stakeholder can file a complaint alone, or together with others.
What can you make a complaint about
You can make a complaint to the Canadian NCP if you feel that a multinational enterprise operating in or from Canada has failed to observe the Guidelines.
Where should you address your complaint
Before filing your complaint with the Canadian NCP, determine:
- whether the country in which the issues have taken place is an adherent to the Guidelines
- whether the country has its own NCP
You should typically submit your complaint first to the NCP of the country in which the issues have arisen (if the country has a NCP). If that country does not have an NCP, then you may submit your complaint to the NCP in which the MNE is headquartered.
Choosing the NCP or the CORE
The NCP and the CORE can both potentially review complaints involving alleged human rights abuses by Canadian companies operating abroad in the garment, mining, and oil and gas sectors. It is your choice where you submit your complaint. You may not submit the same complaint to both organizations at the same time.
If you have questions about whether to file a complaint with either the NCP or CORE, you can contact the NCP and the CORE to receive additional information.
How we protect your privacy
If you are making a complaint as an individual, the Canadian NCP will protect you by only sharing your personal information with the multinational enterprise and other parties with your permission.
Otherwise, your personal information will be masked when your complaint is being reviewed by the NCP ad hoc working group and the NCP Committee.
If you wish to make a complaint anonymously, you may ask someone else to submit the complaint on your behalf. This person must provide proof that they have your permission to do so.
What languages you can use to communicate your complaint
The NCP strongly advises you to submit your complaint in either English or French, Canada’s two official languages. Complaints can be submitted in other languages, but will require translation, which could mean significant delays in the complaint process.
Your responsibilities throughout the complaint process
The NCP expects all parties involved in a case to participate in good faith throughout the proceedings.
Good faith behaviour in this context includes:
- responding in a timely fashion
- maintaining the confidentiality of documents you receive during the process from the NCP and/or the other party
- not misrepresenting the process
- not threatening or taking reprisals against parties involved in the process
- engaging with a genuine commitment to the process
Failure by a party to act in good faith could lead the NCP to end the complaint process. Actions or decisions by either party that do not reflect participation in good faith may be described in the NCP’s Final Statement.
If Canadian companies do not participate in the NCP process, or if the NCP determines that they do not engage in good faith or constructively in the course of or follow-up to the review process, the NCP can recommend the withdrawal of all Trade Commissioner Service support, and that Export Development Canada and the Canadian Commercial Corporation also withdraw future support.
Confidentiality of documents
The NCP complaint process balances transparency and confidentiality. We only share documents with the parties involved in the complaint process and expect that parties will keep these documents confidential. Sharing these documents with parties not involved in the complaint process may be considered a breach of good faith could lead the NCP to end the complaint process.
Timeline for complaint process
The NCP aims to complete a complaint process within 1 year. If recommendations have been made, another 6 months may be needed for follow-up. For more information please see the Complaint handling procedure flow chart.
Submit a complaint
When you file a complaint with the NCP, you will need to:
- identify yourself and explain why you have an interest in the issue(s) you are raising
- provide the name of the organization you are making a complaint on behalf of (if not submitting a complaint as an individual)
- provide the name of the multinational enterprise and where its headquarters are located
- clearly describe how the multinational enterprise has not observed the Guidelines. Please include:
- the chapters of the Guidelines you think are at issue
- the “when and where” of relevant events
- how the multinational enterprise’s activities are linked to the issue
- provide evidence to substantiate the issue (documentation)
- if the issue has already been discussed with the multinational enterprise, describe the outcome of those discussions
- reference to any applicable laws and procedures, including court rulings
- information on how a similar issue has been, or is being, treated in other domestic or international forums or proceedings
- your objectives for engaging in the NCP process
If your submission does not contain all the information we need to assess your complaint, we will work with you to explain what additional material is needed. It will likely take us longer to review your complaint if you do not provide all the requested information in your initial submission.
We will ask you to provide consent that all information you provide to the NCP may be shared with the multinational enterprise.
If you do not want certain information shared with the multinational enterprise, you will need to provide a justification for this request.
Complaints may be mailed to the following addresses. Please ensure that you have supplied the information we requested above.
- Canada’s National Contact Point Secretariat (BPA)
- Global Affairs Canada
- 111 Sussex Drive
- Ottawa ON
- K1A 0G2
- Email: email@example.com
How we assess your complaint
The NCP will aim to acknowledge receipt of your complaint within 5 business days, and will request additional information if required.
Criteria for evaluating your complaint
The NCP evaluates your complaint against 6 criteria outlined in the OECD Procedural Guidance in order to determine whether it merits further examination:
- the identity of the party concerned and its interest in the matter
- whether the issue is material and substantiated
- whether there seems to be a link between the multinational enterprise’s activities and the issue raised
- the relevance of applicable laws and procedures, including court rulings
- how a similar issue has been, or is being, treated in other domestic or international fora
- whether the consideration of the issue would contribute to the purposes and effectiveness of the Guidelines
What “material” and “substantiated” mean
Material means that the issues raised have meaningful relevance to the OECD Guidelines.
Substantiated means that the evidence presented to the NCP makes the allegations reasonably plausible and coherent.
Please note that the NCP cannot proceed with an initial assessment if the complaint does not include documents that sufficiently substantiate the allegations.
See 4.14 of the NCP Procedures for additional details.
If the NCP decides that the complaint merits further examination, the NCP may offer its good offices to support a facilitated dialogue or mediation.
The goal at this stage of the process is to help the parties resolve the issues raised.
A facilitated dialogue may be conducted by the NCP. Mediation may be carried out by a professional mediator. In the latter case, the NCP will observe the exchange.
Before beginning, the NCP will ask the parties to agree on a plan that clarifies the timelines, confidentiality and desired outcomes.
All information shared between the parties during the good offices phase will remain confidential.
Mediation and dialogue facilitation will be provided at no cost to the parties.
Track a complaint
The Canadian National Contact Point - Specific Instance Procedures - 2022 describes the process that Canada’s National Contact Point follows when it receives a complaint.
The Complaint handling procedure flow chart outlines the steps in the process, including timelines.
The NCP conducts an Initial Assessment of the complaint to determine whether to offer good offices and/or make recommendations. The Initial Assessment is informed by criteria set out in the Implementation Procedures of the OECD Guidelines.
Initial Assessments are published on the NCP website.
The NCP will share the draft Initial Assessment with parties for a fact-check before publishing it. It is at the NCP’s discretion to modify its Initial Assessment or not.
If the NCP decides that the complaint does not merit further examination, the initial assessment will be published as a final statement.
At the end of a complaint process, the NCP will publish a final statement that describes the issue raised, the reason for the NCP’s decision, and any recommendations made.
The final statement will be issued even if good offices are not offered.
A final statement may also describe:
- how the NCP helped the parties reach agreement
- the nature of the agreement, (with the parties’ consent)
- why an agreement could not be reached, when relevant
- if a party was unwilling to participate in good faith
- recommendations on the implementation of the Guidelines
The NCP will share a draft of the final statement with the parties before publishing it; however, the final statement is that of the NCP and it is at the NCP’s discretion whether to modify it.
If the NCP has made recommendations in its final statement, it may follow up within a predetermined time period to understand how an agreement or recommendation(s) have been implemented.
The NCP will ask for both parties to provide an update and will draft a follow-up statement.
The NCP may choose to publish this follow-up statement, which will include a summary of actions taken.
Parties will be given the opportunity to review the draft follow-up statement before it is published, but the content of the statement remains at the discretion of the NCP.
For the full glossary, please see the NCP’s Procedures.
Complaint (Request for review): A written submission asking the NCP to review alleged non-observance of the Guidelines by a multinational enterprise(s).
Good faith: Responding in a timely fashion, maintaining confidentiality, not misrepresenting the process, not threatening or taking reprisals against the other party, and genuinely engaging in the process with a view to finding a solution to the issue raised.
Multinational enterprise or MNE. According to the Guidelines, a multinational enterprise usually comprises companies or other entities established in more than one country and so linked that they may co-ordinate their operations in various ways.
NCP Secretariat: Administrative arm of the NCP responsible for managing the complaint process and promoting the Guidelines.
NCP Working Group: a working group of NCP member departments created to examine specific instances.
Notifier: Any individual, organization or community that believes a multinational enterprise has not observed the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, and who files a request for review with the NCP. A notifier may act on behalf of another identified party.
OECD Procedural Guidance: Procedural guidance and commentary that provides guidance for the operation of NCPs and handling of specific instances.
Parties: The complainant (notifier) and the multinational enterprise (respondent).
Personal information: Canada’s Privacy Act defines “personal information” as any information about an identifiable individual that is recorded in any form.
Respondent: In specific instances, the multinational enterprise against which the complaint is made.
Specific instance: An instance of alleged non-observance of the Guidelines by a multinational enterprise.
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