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27 Feb 2020

Emily Dwyer, IPolitics

Canada: Proposed Modern Slavery Act fails to require companies to prevent or mitigate evidence of forced labour in supply chains, says Civil Society Groups

"Modern slavery bill misses the mark," 25 Feb 2020

For years, the United Nations and communities harmed by corporate abuse abroad have called on Canada to address the serious human rights violations associated with the overseas operations of Canadian multinationals. Unfortunately, the Modern Slavery Act, proposed earlier this month by a Canadian senator and supported by two members of parliament, would do little, if anything, to prevent exploitation and abuses in the global supply chains of Canadian companies...

The bill, proposed by Senator Julie Miville-Dechêne and supported by MPs John McKay and Arnold Viersen, attempts to target the worst forms of labour exploitation in the global supply chains of Canadian companies. It requires Canadian companies to report on the presence of child or forced labour in their supply chains and on any steps taken to prevent these practices. However, the bill does not compel companies to change their behaviour—to prevent, mitigate or redress abuses they detect. Nor does the bill offer help to the victims of the exploitation because it does not provide for liability or remedy if companies do make use of child or forced labour. 

The bill also fails to address the myriad of other serious human rights abuses that are widespread in Canadian global supply chains, ranging from the violation of workers’ rights and the rights of Indigenous peoples, to sexual violence and environmental devastation.