Guidelines for Public Communications

Official Title: Guidelines for Public Communications submitted to the Canadian National Administrative Office under Labour Cooperation Agreements or Chapters.

1. Background

These guidelines have been developed in accordance with the relevant Articles of the Labour Cooperation Agreements (LCA) or the Labour Chapters of Free Trade Agreements (LCFTA). They describe the procedures and criteria to be followed by the Canadian National Administrative Office (NAO), or equivalent designation, for the submission, acceptance and review of public communications on labour law matters pertaining to the LCAs or LCFTAs. They are intended to support the efforts of Canada and its trading partners to better understand and address such matters through cooperation and consultation. These guidelines do not limit the NAO’s competence in other matters described in the Agreements and should be read in conjunction with relevant provisions of the applicable LCA or LCFTA.

Additional information or clarification may be obtained by contacting:

National Administrative Office
Labour Program
Employment and Social Development Canada
Government of Canada
Phase II, Place du Portage
165 Hôtel de Ville Street
Gatineau, Québec
K1A 0J2

2. Definitions

The Canadian National Administrative Office (NAO) , or other equivalent designation, is the contact point for all of Canada’s LCAs, and LCFTAs. The NAO is responsible for the review of public communications submitted under Canada’s LCAs and LCFTAs.

A Party means a country that has obligations or responsibilities under an LCA or LCFTA.

A Person means a natural person who is a permanent resident of Canada or a citizen of Canada under Canadian legislation, or an enterprise, or an organization of employers or workers that is established in the territory of Canada.

3. Eligible Public Communications

Who may submit public communications: Public communications may be submitted by any person of Canada.

Content of public communications: To be eligible for review, the public communication must meet the technical requirements in paragraph 4 as well as the following:

  1. address and explain its relevance to a specific LCA or LCFTA including, as appropriate, how the matters complained of may constitute non-compliance by the Party being complained against. Where applicable, the submission should describe the failure by the Party being complained against to effectively enforce its labour law or that its labour laws and practices thereunder do not embody and provide protection for the internationally recognized labour principles and rights set out in the relevant LCA or LCFTA;
  2. indicate that relief has been sought under the domestic laws of the Party being complained against, or the reasons for failure to pursue such relief, and the status of such proceedings or any proceedings before international bodies; and
  3. where applicable, indicate how the public communication differs substantially from previous communications or, if not, whether new or supplemental information is included that was not available in previous communications.

4. Technical requirements for Public Communications

Public communications must:

  1. be signed and dated and include the name, title, address, telephone number, and email address, if available, of the submitter;
  2. include paper or electronic versions of relevant supporting information available to the submitter including, to the extent possible, laws or regulations – or indicate publicly available electronic sources for such information;
  3. be submitted electronically, by hand, or by mail to the Canadian NAO at the address shown above. Submissions received in hard copy must be accompanied by an electronic version in a current format, unless it is not practicable or for reasons of confidentiality.
  4. be submitted in either English or French. Supporting documents may be submitted in any of the languages of the relevant LCA or LCFTA, and accompanied by translation into one of Canada’s official languages, if determined necessary by the Canadian NAO.

The public communication should also identify any confidential information included with the communication.

5. When a Public Communication is received

The Canadian NAO will promptly acknowledge receipt of the communication and inform the NAO of the Party being complained against.

The Canadian NAO will, normally within 60 days of receipt of the public communication, decide whether to accept it for review. In considering whether to accept a communication for review, the NAO will consider the extent to which it meets the criteria set out in paragraph 3. During this time, the NAO may communicate with the submitter to request additional information or clarification, as well as with the NAO of the Party being complained against, and with other Canadian government departments and agencies.

If the communication is accepted for review, the Canadian NAO will provide written notification to the submitter and the NAO of the Party being complained against. The NAO will also publicly announce the decision to undertake the review and will indicate how to obtain access to any response of the Party being complained against.

If the public communication is declined, the Canadian NAO will provide written notification to the NAO of the Party being complained against and written notification, plus the reasons for the decision, to the submitter. The NAO will also publicly announce this decision.

Authors of public communications may re-submit or revise a communication in order to meet these guidelines. If the Canadian NAO declines a communication, the submitter may request reconsideration of this decision, provided that this is accompanied by substantive written reasons, as well as new or additional information where relevant. If the communication is declined again, the NAO will provide a written response, including the reasons for the decision, to the submitter.

6. When a Public Communication is accepted for review

The Canadian NAO will examine the communication and report on the issues raised. This will normally be completed within 180 days from the date the public communication was accepted for review or the date of any supplemental submission. This time period may be extended if circumstances warrant. Early on in that process, the Canadian NAO will consult with the Party being complained against.

The process for the examination may vary depending, for example, on the issue in question and the type of information needed. Underlying the review will be an emphasis on ensuring an accessible, open and transparent examination of the issues. It could include meetings with the submitters and other interested parties, public meetings or consultations, appointment of an independent reviewer, requests for additional information or any other information gathering process that will enable the NAO to carry out its responsibilities, as outlined in these guidelines.

The Canadian NAO may combine several public communications on related matters in one review.

During the review, the Canadian NAO may request additional information from the submitters as well as information from the NAO of the Party being complained against. Consultations between the NAOs may be undertaken. The Canadian NAO may also request additional information and analysis from experts, academics, consultants and other interested individuals or organizations.

By the end of the review period, the NAO will decide whether to recommend Ministerial Consultations as provided for under the LCA or LCFTA. The NAO will produce a report in both of Canada’s official languages, indicating its decision and considering relevant information, including that provided by the submitter, the other Party and other interested persons. The report will indicate how to obtain access to any response of the Party being complained against, if publicly available, and will be provided to the submitter and the NAO of the Party being complained against. It will also be made available to other members of the public, except for any confidential or proprietary information such as that protected under the LCA or LCFTA.

7. Information to the Public

The Canadian NAO will make a list of public communications accepted or declined for review and their status (if applicable) publicly available. This notification will indicate how to obtain access to any response by the Party being complained against, if publicly available.

At the end of any review period, the report will be made available to the public as indicated above. Communications and supporting documents, as well as information received during the review process, will be available to the public on request and in accordance with the provisions of the LCA or LCFTA, subject to privacy considerations and relevant laws.

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