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Canada’s National Contact Point annual report 2023

Table of contents

1. Overview

Canada is an adherent to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Declaration on Investment and Multinational Enterprises and to the Declaration’s Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises on Responsible Business Conduct (“the Guidelines”).

The Guidelines are one of the most comprehensive and widely endorsed sets of principles and recommendations on responsible business conduct (“RBC”) for multinational enterprises. Canada and 50 other adherent countries recommend observance of the Guidelines to multinational enterprises operating in or from their territories. As highlighted in Responsible Business Conduct Abroad: Canada’s Strategy for the Future, the Guidelines are a key source of both guidance and expectations for Canadian companies operating abroad.

Canada maintains a National Contact Point (NCP) for Responsible Business Conduct to promote awareness and uptake of the Guidelines. The NCP also provides a non-judicial process to help resolve disputes about implementation of the Guidelines by multinational enterprises operating in or from Canada. In fulfilling these two mandates, Canada’s NCP contributes to advancing Canada’s strategy for helping Canadian companies implement RBC in their activities abroad.

This Annual Report outlines activities of Canada’s NCP from January 1 to December 31, 2023.

2023 was a year of considerable activity and evolution in the global RBC ecosystem. In February, Canada served as a vice-chair of the first OECD Ministerial Meeting on RBC. This gathering affirmed the central importance of RBC in addressing a range of global challenges, and saw Canada and 49 other countries join together in adopting the Declaration on Promoting and Enabling Responsible Business Conduct in the Global Economy. Later in June, adherents completed the first update of the Guidelines since 2011, helping ensure the Guidelines and NCP system will remain relevant and fit-for-purpose in coming years. Canada’s NCP supported Canada’s participation in both multilateral initiatives.

The NCP engaged with a variety of stakeholders and partners about the Guidelines in other forums and events throughout 2023. The NCP also launched a new website to ensure information on its role and activities remains up-to-date and accessible. The website now includes a “case tracker” to provide greater transparency on dispute-resolution processes underway. The NCP also began publishing Initial Assessments of complaints received, in line with revised procedures adopted in 2022.     

Canada’s NCP advanced several dispute-resolution processes (“specific instances”) throughout the year. This work included:

As of December 31, 2023, the NCP had 6 active specific instances:

2. Institutional arrangement

Canada’s NCP is an interdepartmental committee of 8 federal departments: Global Affairs Canada; Natural Resources Canada; Environment and Climate Change Canada; Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada; Employment and Social Development Canada; Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada; the Department of Finance Canada; and Public Services and Procurement Canada. The committee is chaired by the Director General of Global Affairs Canada’s Trade Portfolio, Strategy and Coordination Bureau.   

The NCP committee was engaged regularly throughout the year to confirm the direction of specific instance processes; review and approve NCP documents; and provide input on promotion and policy initiatives. The committee met twice during the year, once in February and again in December 2023.

The NCP Secretariat, located in Global Affairs Canada’s Trade Strategy and Responsible Business Conduct Division, provides administrative support to the NCP, leading on case-handling and outreach activities. The Secretariat also supports Canada’s engagement on RBC initiatives within the OECD context.

In February 2023, the NCP committee also held a consultation session with the NCP’s three non-government Social Partners: the Canadian Chamber of Commerce; the Canadian Labour Congress; and the Confédération des syndicats nationaux.

3. Supporting engagement at the OECD

OECD Ministerial Meeting on Responsible Business Conduct

In February 2023, Canada served as a vice-chair of the first OECD Ministerial Meeting on Responsible Business Conduct. Led by the Honourable Arif Virani (then Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development), Canada's delegation chaired a plenary discussion and engaged with a wide variety of government representatives and other stakeholders about how to strengthen RBC in the global economy.  

Canada also joined 49 other countries and the European Union in adopting the Declaration on Promoting and Enabling Responsible Business Conduct in the Global Economy. The Declaration represents a commitment to continue promoting RBC practices and cooperation in order to advance wider goals in areas such as sustainable development, supply chain resilience, and climate. The Declaration also recognizes the unique role that NCPs will play in this work, and the need to maintain a robust NCP system globally.   

Updates to the OECD Guidelines

The NCP Secretariat continued to support Canada’s engagement in the process to finalize targeted updates to the Guidelines. A revised set of Guidelines was officially launched at an OECD Ministerial Council Meeting in June 2023. The updates aim to ensure the Guidelines will remain relevant and fit-for-purpose in a global environment much changed since the last revision in 2011. Some key updates include:

Supporting NCP peer reviews

Canada’s NCP Secretariat served as part of the review team for the 2023 peer review of Estonia’s NCP. In this capacity the NCP Secretariat supported fact-finding activities, engaged with Estonian government representatives, and facilitated consultations about Estonia’s NCP with local stakeholders from the business community, organized labour, and civil society. Canada’s NCP Secretariat also helped to consolidate the review team’s findings and formulate recommendations for the Estonian NCP. This is the fourth time that Canada’s NCP has served as peer reviewer. 

Supporting RBC work at the OECD

The NCP Secretariat continued to support Canada’s delegation to the OECD Working Party on RBC. For the eighth consecutive year, the NCP Secretariat also managed the Government of Canada’s voluntary contribution to the OECD Centre for RBC, supporting analysis, research, and activities related to RBC and to strengthening the global NCP network.

4. Promotion and outreach

Canada’s NCP engaged in a variety of promotion and outreach initiatives throughout 2023. Examples include:

The NCP Secretariat participated in quarterly meetings with the office of the Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise to coordinate on activities such as joint outreach and promotion.

5. Specific instances

The NCP concluded one specific instance in 2023:

The NCP followed-up on one specific instance in 2023:

The NCP acted as a neutral observer at several rounds of discussion in late 2022 but did not observe an agreement reached between the parties. The NCP completed its follow-up in the first half of 2023. This included engaging with Pan-American Silver, a Canada-based enterprise that had acquired Yamana Gold and Minera Florida in March 2023. The NCP published a Follow-up Statement in October.  

As of December 31, 2023, Canada’s NCP had 6 active specific instances. The NCP had completed Initial Assessments and offered good offices in four of these cases. The NCP had facilitated dialogue between the parties in two instances by the end of the year. Two cases were undergoing initial assessment as of December 2023.  

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