Engineers Without Borders Canada welcomes improvements to transparency Act, but highlights need to align standards with US, EU

17th November 2014 By: Creamer Media Reporter

JOHANNESBURG ( – Engineers Without Borders (EWB) Canada said on Monday that there were key areas of the recently tabled Extractive Sector Transparency Measures Act that fell short of meeting the commitment to ensuring Canada’s transparency standards were aligned with emerging international requirements in the US and the European Union (EU).

“We are very concerned that Canada’s Extractive [Sector] Transparency Measures Act does not require payments that extractives companies make to governments be broken down by project or type,” explained EWB director of policy and advocacy Samantha Burton, highlighting that not only did this put Canadian legislation out of sync with the US and EU requirements, but without this level of detail, citizens and communities would not be able to effectively use this information to hold their government to account.

However, EWB Canada did welcome several improvements made to the 2014 Strategy to Advance Corporate Social Responsibility in Canada’s Extractive Sector Abroad and encouraged the Canadian government to demonstrate further leadership by closing the critical gaps in the Extractive Sector Transparency Measures Act.

EWB Canada said on Monday that while mineral and fossil fuels were widely seen as potential drivers of economic and social development in resource-rich countries, these positive outcomes were not guaranteed. One of the core improvements in Canada’s revised corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategy was that it recognised these benefits were only fostered under certain conditions and strived to help create them.

Strong supply chain linkages between international companies and local businesses were one of these critical conditions. As a result, the strategy’s commitment to help Canadian companies purchase more goods and services from the countries in which they operated was a welcome demonstration of leadership, noted EWB Canada.

“Local spending on goods and services leads to more local jobs and income, transfers skills and technology and helps create vital domestic business networks,” said EWB head of mining shared value Jeff Geipel.

Improved transparency was also a vital condition for decreased corruption and enhanced accountability, which were key to ensuring citizens benefited from the extraction of their country’s natural resources. He maintained that Canada’s continued focus on increasing the transparency of the extractives industry, demonstrated most recently by the commitments in the CSR strategy and Extractive Sector Transparency Measures Act, was a strong step in the right direction.