Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise releases statement on COVID-19 & human rights due diligence

Author: Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise (CORE), Published on: 1 June 2020

The Government of Canada and the Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise (CORE) remain committed to our duty in protecting human rights throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and will support enterprises operating abroad in their responsibility to respect human rights... In Canada, unemployment due to COVID-19 has disproportionately affected youth, women, and precarious workers.

... Globally, garment workers – who are predominantly women – have experienced mass layoffs and furloughs without pay or severance, while some remain precluded from health and social benefits. This magnifies pre-existing inequalities... In order for businesses to respect human rights, it is therefore essential to identifying which workers and how workers may be especially vulnerable to negative impacts from COVID-19 emergency responses.

... [Businesses] must also ensure that COVID-19 responses do not encroach on workers’ rights, such as freedom of movement... At CORE, we encourage Canadian companies to continue to respect human rights by undertaking due diligence to identify, prevent, mitigate, and account for human rights impacts in business operations, using the United Nations Guiding Principles (UNGP) on Business and Human Rights and OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises...

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