Oxfam Canada welcomes new ombudsperson to address human rights impacts of Canadian business abroad

January 18, 2018

(OTTAWA) Oxfam Canada welcomes news that the federal government is creating the office of Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise. 

For years, human rights advocates, including Oxfam, have called on Canada to hold companies accountable for their actions abroad.  Today, the government heeded these calls and committed to appoint an ombudsperson with powers to investigate allegations of human rights abuses involving Canadian companies and recommend concrete actions for how businesses can improve their human rights performance.

“Oxfam has documented human rights abuses in the global economy in various sectors, including mining, hotels, apparel and food processing.  Women disproportionately bear the brunt of business-related human rights abuses, including the unfair treatment of female workers and the gendered impacts of resource extraction projects,” said Ian Thomson, policy specialist on the extractive industries at Oxfam Canada.

“If granted a strong mandate around gender equality, the new Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise could help ensure that women’s rights are top of mind for Canadian businesses operating in other countries. Oxfam hopes the office of the ombudsperson becomes an important tool for Canada in pursuing a feminist foreign policy.”

The need for an ombudsperson was flagged last year in Oxfam Canada’s Feminist Scorecard, which tracks the federal government’s progress in advancing women’s rights and gender equality.  The next Scorecard will be released in March 2018 to coincide with International Women’s Day.


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