Among the topmost prosperous countries in the world, Canada is a popular location for businesses owners and immigrant workers from all over the world. Environment sustainability and responsible conduct is becoming a business imperative in this nation, which has a diverse population and immense natural wealth.
1. Corporate social responsibility in Canada
To enhance the ability of Canadian extractive sector companies to manage social and environmental risks, and to operate in a way that brings lasting benefits to local communities and host countries affected by their projects, Canada created a framework to guide corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts of the extractive sector known as the CSR Strategy. Launched in 2009, the CSR Strategy is part of Canada’s efforts to help foster and promote sustainable economic development and responsible business practices in countries where Canadian extractive sector companies operate abroad.
CSR in Canada is not mandated by law. However, the Government’s approach to corporate social responsibility (CSR) aims to help Canadian companies doing business abroad manage social and environmental risks and enhance their chances for business success. The government works with the Canadian business community, civil society organizations, foreign governments and communities, as well as other stakeholders to foster and promote responsible business practices, and thus support sustainable economic growth and shared values.
2. Global efforts of the Canadian government
Canada’s approach offers support to companies through the Trade Commissioner Service, as well as early intervention and dialogue facilitation, but also links responsible corporate behaviour with access to Government of Canada trade advocacy and economic support in foreign markets.
The Government of Canada, companies, and civil society have been at the forefront of efforts to create a global consensus on responsible mining and sourcing practices to address the phenomenon of “conflict minerals” in the gold, tin, and tantalum and tungsten sectors. The Government of Canada played a leading role in the negotiation of the ‘OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas’, and continues to be actively engaged in its promotion and implementation. Canada has also provided strategic funding of key projects towards peace and prosperity in the African Great Lakes Region, and was a founding member of the Kimberley Process, which came into effect in 2003, to stem the trade in conflict diamonds.
Canada is also supporting due diligence and responsible business practices within the readymade garment industry, and sustainable sourcing of ready-made garments from international suppliers and manufacturers. Governments, businesses, non-profits and other organizations are increasingly integrating social and environmental objectives into the purchasing process which can be a means for leveraging social benefits and fostering sustainable economies. An example of Canada’s efforts in this area is $8 million (CAD) in support over four years for a joint initiative with the International Labour Organization for improving working conditions in the ready-made garments sector in Bangladesh, to help ensure that Bangladesh’s garment factories are properly assessed for safe working conditions, and remedial action is undertaken.
Top Companies for CSR in Canada
3. Maple Leaf Foods
Maple Leaf Foods is a leading consumer protein company, making high quality food products under Canadian brands including Maple Leaf Prime, Schneiders, Mina and Field Roast Grain Meat Co. The company employs approximately 11,500 people and does business in Canada, the U.S. and Asia. It is headquartered in Mississauga, Ontario.
Maple Leaf Foods has a long-term commitment to advancing sustainable food security. In late 2016, the company launched the Maple Leaf Centre for Action on Food Security, a registered charity governed by an independent Board of Directors. The Centre is committed to working collaboratively across sectors to reduce food insecurity in Canada by 50% by 2030 and advocating for critical policies. In 2018, the Centre worked with a number of civil society and private sector partners to advocate for a national food policy that would address issues of poverty and food insecurity and establish a governance framework that would incorporate the views and expertise of various stakeholder groups as the government shifts from policy to programme implementation. A Food Policy for Canada was announced in 2019 with “helping Canadian communities access healthy food” as one of four priorities.
Maple Leaf Foods has established The Feed Opportunity Fund, which provides grants to organizations engaged in testing and expanding innovative approaches to advancing food security, with the goal to capture and share learnings, and identify approaches that may be scaled to increase their impact. In 2019, the Centre launched nine scholarships to support Master’s or PhD students who pursue research that contributes to the body of knowledge on food insecurity.
Since the COVID-19 outbreak last year, Maple Leaf Foods is taking additional immediate steps to support frontline workers and deliver assistance to those in need. In partnership with the Maple Leaf Centre for Action on Food Security, the company is supporting the critical efforts of food security organizations to meet vastly increased demands. In addition to $500,000 (CAD) in financial and food contributions recently committed, the team launched a matching campaign to raise an additional $2.0 million (CAD) to support emergency food relief efforts across Canada.
The company pledged $2.5 million (CAD) to the Canadian Frontline Healthcare Professionals Protection Fund (CFHPPF), established by hospital foundations across the country to provide additional support for frontline healthcare workers. As a major Canadian food company, making safe food is at the core of what Maple Leaf Foods does. Additionally, Maple Leaf Foods will be working with its peers and partners in the public and private sector to coordinate forums for knowledge sharing and expertise to combat this pandemic.
Vancity is a values-based financial co-operative from Vancouver. Vancity credit union uses its financial tools to help its members build sustainable lives, businesses and communities, and reducing the environmental footprint of its own operations. In 2019, they signed on to the UN Principles for Responsible Banking and in 2020 signed the Collective Commitment to Climate Action. In 2020, Vancity became a supporter of the Taskforce for Climate Related Financial Disclosures. In 2019, following the Global Alliance on Values (GABV) Summit in Vancouver, the bank committed to a global effort among banking institutions to track and monitor the carbon impact of its portfolio of loans and investments. They have since helped to develop the methodology for the Partnership for Carbon Accounting Financials (PCAF).
Vancity was the first Canadian financial institution to become a member of the Global Alliance for Banking on Values (GABV) – a network of the world’s leading sustainable banks sharing the commitment to achieving triple bottomline impact through responsible banking practices. It was also the first North American-based financial institution to become carbon neutral.
In 2019, the bank diverted 100% of its waste from landfill – recycling or composting 84% of this amount including all paper products and paper towels, glass, plastics, metals, organics and batteries. Of its 60 branches, 54 are net zero waste, meaning that non-recyclable or compostable waste is diverted from landfill to a waste-to-energy facility. In 2015, a heat recovery unit was installed at Vancity Centre using waste heat from its data centre, decreasing natural gas consumption by up to 97% and winning numerous awards, and has since been used to inform the City of Vancouver policy on actions to achieve its 100% renewable energy strategy. Vancity’s energy management practices include designing to perform above the required energy code, by utilizing more efficient lighting, mechanical and control systems, improved control systems and changing user behaviour to minimize energy use.
Vancity’s enviro Visa is a values-based credit card, providing competitive rates and rewards to help cardholders achieve their financial goals while giving back to the community. Every year, 5% of enviro Visa card profits go to support the Vancity enviroFund programme, which invests in local, innovative solutions to improve the environmental wellbeing of members and communities. Clean Air Vehicle Loan provides preferential rates to members purchasing energy efficient vehicles or electric vehicle charging stations, alternative fuel conversion systems and motorized and non-motorized bicycles and scooters.
In 2019, all investment funds managed by Vancity Investment Management (VCIM) became fossil fuel free. Their team of wealth management professionals also have access to a wide range of socially responsible savings and investment products includingMutual funds, Term deposits, Shared World Term Deposits and Discretionary Investment Management.
In 2019, Vancity provided $117 million (CAD) in financing within the environmental sustainability sector, including green buildings, green businesses, clean technology, renewable energy, and local and organic food. Since 2012, they have provided nearly $2 billion (CAD) in environmental sustainability-related financing. In 2019, Vancity approved over $2.1million in grants to support environmental sustainability initiatives in our community. The bank supported the Electrical Joint Training Committee with an enviroFund grant of $70,000 to develop a solar energy training programme. This programme will deliver training to the next generations of electricians and has an emphasis on upskilling the women and indigenous labour force. The bank provided a $50,000 grant to Synergy Sustainability Institute on Vancouver Island to support Project Zero, a circular economy business incubator, as well as their Vancouver Island Green Business Collective program which are catalyzing the green and circular economy on Vancouver Island.
Vancity is a founding partner of the Catalyst Business Coalition, an alliance of BC companies that formed to advocate for strong energy and climate policies and the creation of a resilient economy.
In 2016, Vancity grew the PNE zero waste partnership from a one-day event to span the entire 15-day fair. The bank was a founding member of the Board of Change, a member-driven organization that educates, transforms and celebrates businesses interested in sustainability. It is a founding partner of LOCO BC, which brings local businesses together to promote local purchasing, local business networking, and sustainability. Since 2011, Vancity has partnered with GreenJobs BC to develop strong bridges between labour and environmental groups to promote the creation of high quality green jobs throughout the province.
5. Telus Corp
Telus Corporation is a Canadian national telecommunications company that provides a wide range of telecommunications products and services including internet access, voice, entertainment and healthcare. Thirteen Canadian community boards and five international boards have led the company’s support of grassroots charities. TELUS International’s five Community Boards are making a positive impact in the Philippines, Guatemala, El Salvador, Bulgaria and Romania, each with a US$100,000 annual donation budget.
Since 2000, team members and retirees have contributed more than $820 million (CAD) and 1.6 million days of service. Telus was named the most outstanding philanthropic corporation globally by the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), becoming the first Canadian company to receive this prestigious international recognition.
Connections is the women’s network of Telus International, a programme that seeks to create an inclusive community and connect the needs and interests of women in the company while supporting their professional and personal development. As an example, in El Salvador, the “Work for Her” training programme provides high school graduates with 210 hours of English training and 40 hours of life skills workshops which can then be used to apply for full-time positions within the company.
HOPE is an 8 to 10-month life-changing programme for students in Central America teaching them English and job skills while they receive an allowance from Telus International. At the end of the programme, students are given fulfilling roles in the company, enabling them to support themselves and their families. During the company’s long-time partnership with Gawad Kalinga in the Philippines, they created two new villages and built hundreds of homes for some of the nation’s poorest families. Team members continue to volunteer at the villages teaching life skills, tutoring children and empowering previously homeless people to take control of their lives.
In addition to weekly charitable activities, once a year employees focus their efforts on TELUS Days of Giving. Thousands of employees set aside their daily activities to join a common cause, whether it’s building entire schools in Central America, refurbishing centers for young children in Eastern Europe or constructing entire villages for the homeless in the Philippines – and more. In 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, they found new ways to make a difference – from distributing food baskets and knitting blankets for families in need, to delivering care packages to healthcare workers, to donating computers to students to continue their virtual education, to creating online storybooks for young children.
6. Air Canada
In addition to threatening ecosystems, illegal wildlife trade plays a key role in spreading zoonotic diseases, therefore fighting illegal wildlife trade is important in preventing pandemics of zoonotic origin. Through the International Air Transport Association (IATA), Air Canada is a signatory to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). As such, the airlines does not permit carriage of species covered by CITES unless the shipper certifies that the species is carried under a CITES permit. They also have an embargo on the carriage of shipments of lion, leopard, elephant, rhinoceros, and water buffalo trophies, of non-human primates intended for laboratory research and/or experimental purposes, and of shark fins.
In 2019, the airline began to take further steps to prevent illegal wildlife trafficking. They are proud to be a signatory of the Buckingham Palace Declaration, which confirms the commitment to stop the traffickers of the illegal wildlife trade from moving their products. In 2019, Air Canada and subsidiaries (including Air Canada Vacations) made the commitment to no longer sell or promote packages to, or generate revenue from, attractions that involve the captivity of current or future
generations of dolphins.
In the spring of 2019, thousands of people in Eastern Canada faced severe flooding, with portions of the Ottawa-Gatineau region, southern New Brunswick, and several areas in the province of Quebec among the hardest hit. Air Canada partnered with humanitarian aid organization GlobalMedic to deliver emergency relief, which included specialized kits shipped via Cargo and “on-the-ground” help from the Special Assistance Team volunteers. The airline shipped more than 160 pre-assembled clean-up kits and 150 hygiene kits to Quebec City. Similar CSR initiatives were organized for New Brunswick, where Cargo shipped materials in bulk to Saint John Airport. Supplies were also shipped out of Toronto. The Air Canada Foundation also made a $50,000 (CAD) donation to the Canadian Red Cross Flood Appeal.
When Dorian, the category 5 hurricane recorded as the strongest in the history of the Bahamas, ripped through the archipelago in early September, Air Canada reacted quickly to provide relief. Together with 50 Air Canada employees who volunteered over two weeks, the Air Canada Foundation worked with GlobalMedic to pack various aid items for transport and deployed emergency kits, food and drinking water. The items sent to those affected were important, particularly the water purification systems and purification tablets, as access to clean water is always an urgent priority to prevent the spread of disease. In addition, Air Canada Vacations ran a special promoting travel to Nassau and Great Exuma, which were unaffected by the hurricane, with $10 from each sale going to relief efforts on the ground.