On December 12, 2013, Erin O’Toole, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade, launched consultations to review the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Strategy for the Extractive Sector. The consultations are part of a five-year review undertaken by the Government of Canada to help in formulating a plan to further assist Canadian extractive companies who are operating abroad with their responsible business practices.

The CSR Strategy was announced in March 2009 in a document entitled ``Building the Canadian Advantage: A Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Strategy for the Canadian International Extractive Sector`` with the stated aim of improving the competitive advantage of Canadian international extractive sector companies by enhancing their ability to manage social and environmental risks. The strategy has four pillars:

  1. support for host country capacity-building initiatives related to resource governance, and for host countries to benefit from these resources so as to reduce poverty;
  2. promotion of the following widely-recognized voluntary international CSR performance guidelines:
    • The OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises;
    • 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, to be tasked with both an advisory and dispute resolution role; and
  4. the Centre for Excellence in CSR, a multi-stakeholder body operating at arm’s length from the government.

These recent consultations of the CSR Strategy complement the Canada-wide extractive sector consultations held by the Honourable Edward Fast, Minister of International Trade, in September and October 2013.

The first round table session with civil society organizations was held in Ottawa on December 12, 2013. The second session, held in Toronto on December 19, 2013, included representatives of Canadian extractive-sector companies operating abroad and their associations. The government is seeking input from all Canadians with an interest in CSR within the extractive sector. The online consultation process closed on January 8, 2014.

The Government’s five-year review is expected to be released shortly.