Business and Human Rights Legislation

Canada has international human rights obligations to protect, respect and fulfill human rights, including protecting against human rights abuses by Canadian companies operating overseas. Yet there is at present no legal framework in Canada that sets out companies’ obligations to respect human rights throughout their global operations and supply chains, nor that defines corporate liability for harms caused as a result of their business activities.

A growing number of jurisdictions worldwide are acknowledging the failure of voluntary initiatives to curb corporate abuse, and have either enacted or are currently examining legislation to hold companies legally accountable when their operations cause harm. The CNCA, along with 34 other civil society organizations from across Canada, is calling on the government to learn from these experiences abroad and enact comprehensive and mandatory human rights due diligence legislation that:

  • requires companies to identify, prevent, and mitigate human rights abuses arising from their global operations.
  • applies throughout the entirety of a company’s business operations and supply chains. Legislation must apply to both companies headquartered in Canada and globally headquartered corporations doing business in Canada.
  • is comprehensive in scope, encompassing the full range of internationally recognized human rights.
  • includes meaningful consequences for non-compliance, including liability for harm and effective enforcement mechanisms.

Due diligence legislation, if properly designed and implemented, will drive change in preventing and addressing adverse human rights impacts, contribute to a more level playing field for Canadian businesses, and ensure Canadian companies can attract and maintain investment. Such legislation would complement developments in Canadian common law that also help to address the significant legal barriers faced by foreign victims seeking to access justice in Canadian courts for overseas abuse linked to Canadian companies and supply chains.


2020 Empower and Enact Challenge

13 May, 2020

Demand that Canada take concrete measures to strengthen the rules for businesses and uphold human rights. Join the Empower and Enact Challenge!

Sign the e-petition and then:

Week 1: Tag FIVE FRIENDS Challenge

Week 2: Request a virtual meeting with your MP

Week 3: Share the petition


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OPINION: Modern slavery bill misses the mark, ipolitics

27 February, 2020

“For years, the United Nations and communities harmed by corporate abuse abroad have called on Canada to address the serious human rights violations associated with the overseas operations of Canadian multinationals. Unfortunately, the Modern Slavery Act, proposed earlier this month by a Canadian senator and supported by two members of parliament, would do little, if anything, to prevent exploitation and abuses in the global supply chains of Canadian companies.

Far from positioning Canada at the forefront of global efforts to protect human rights from corporate abuse, this bill, if passed, would put Canada near the back of the pack.”


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35 civil society groups call for legislation to combat human rights abuse by Canadian business overseas

02 December, 2019

The CNCA, along with labour unions, human rights groups and international development organizations from across Canada, is urging the government to enact robust legislation requiring companies to address and prevent adverse human rights impacts in their global operations and supply chains.

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Federal parties detail commitments on corporate accountability and human rights

18 October, 2019

The Canadian Network on Corporate Accountability asked all federal political parties to detail their positions on three key measures aimed at ensuring greater respect for human rights by Canadian companies overseas.

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Letter to Minister Monsef calls for advances on mandatory human rights due diligence legislation

07 March, 2019

The CNCA welcomes the Government of Canada’s recent commitment to consult on Canadian supply chain legislation and urges Minister Monsef to use this consultation process to develop comprehensive mandatory human rights due diligence legislation.

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Human rights case against Nevsun Resources goes to the Supreme Court of Canada

22 January, 2019

A groundbreaking business and human rights case will be heard by Canada’s highest court tomorrow, and it may have far-reaching implications for the ability of survivors of overseas corporate abuse to access justice in Canada. The case involves claims of forced labour, slavery, and torture at a Canadian mine site in Eritrea.

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