Canada: Parliamentary report requests Govt. develop legislation that motivates business to eliminate child & forced labour

In November and December 2017, the Subcommittee on International Human Rights of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development undertook a study on child labour in supply chains. The Subcommittee received testimony and written briefs from representatives from non-governmental organizations, the private sector, academics, the ILO, and Government of Canada officials to inform the drafting of this study. The study includes several recommendations for how Canada can contribute to eliminating child labour and forced labour through its international assistance; support for education, law enforcement and judicial systems; free trade negotiations; engagement with Canadian businesses; procurement policies; and legislative and policy initiatives. The government is expected to respond by February 2019.

A proposed Modern Slavery Bill was tabled in the House of Commons on 13 December 2018 by Liberal MP John McKay. The bill would require Canadian companies to publicly report on measures to reduce the risk of child labour and forced labour in their supply chains. It also gives the Canadian Border Service Agency the power to ban products and impose fines up to $250,000.

The Govt. of Canada issues its official response to the Parliamentary report on 8 February 2019. The response notes that the Govt. of Canada broadly agrees with the recommendations of the committee's report and "proposes to consider them within the wider policy, advocacy and programming actions that the Government of Canada is undertaking across a number of departments." The response indicates that the government will initiate consultations in 2019 on possible supply chain legislation.

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Article
22 February 2019

MP John McKay calls for Canada to pass Modern Slavery Bill that requires companies ensure transparent supply chains that are free from forced labour

Author: John McKay, Delta87

"Creating Canada's modern slavery bill," 21 February 2019

In October of 2018, the Canadian House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs released a report entitled A Call to Action: Ending the Use of All Forms of Child Labour in Supply Chains... Most importantly... the Committee also called upon the Government of Canada to introduce legislation to compel businesses to eliminate the use of forced and child labour from their supply chains... On 13 December 2018, I introduced Bill C-423, or the Modern Slavery Bill, in Parliament. The purpose is to implement Canada’s international commitment to confirm supply chain transparency and contribute to the fight against modern slavery. The Act requires companies that have assets over CAD 20 million and revenue over CAD 40 million to ensure that their supply chains are transparent and free of goods produced by slavery if they wish to do business in Canada... In drafting the Bill, reference was made to both the British and Australian initiatives. The UK has the most experience, but the inability to impose sanctions for failure to comply led us to conclude that there needed to be a penalty of some sort... Addressing modern slavery is not just a Canadian issue; it is a matter of international human rights. Jurisdictions across the globe need to join with one another to eradicate this scourge.

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Article
13 February 2019

Canadian govt. commits to initiate consultations on possible supply chain legislation in response to Parliamentary report on child & forced labour

Author: Government of Canada

The Government of Canada has carefully reviewed the Report of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development... Canada is already taking action to end child labour in supply chains by working across a number of federal government departments and agencies on initiatives that address the practice and its root causes in developing countries and by engaging with other governments, the private sector, civil society and other stakeholders to implement domestic and international initiatives and explore options to enhance measures to end child labour in supply chains... The Government of Canada broadly agrees with the recommendations of the committee’s report. It proposes to consider them within the wider policy, advocacy and programming actions that the Government of Canada is undertaking across a number of departments... The government recognizes the work being done in other jurisdictions through legislative reforms and is actively studying their effectiveness and feasibility for Canadian contexts... Within Canada we will begin consultations in 2019 on possible supply chain legislation and continue to work across the federal government to enhance policies and practices to eliminate child labour in supply chains and support Canadian businesses to employ responsible business practices and respect for human rights.

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Article
13 February 2019

Government of Canada commits to measures towards ending child and forced labour in corporate supply chains

Author: World Vision Canada, newswire.ca

The Government of Canada announced on Friday that it would initiate consultations on corporate supply chain legislation this year. The statement is a positive step towards requiring Canadian companies to take action and report on their efforts to address child labour, modern slavery, and other human rights violations, according to a coalition of Canadian organizations including World Vision, Fairtrade Canada, UNICEF Canada and Save the Children. The Government of Canada stated in the House of Commons that it will: "begin a process in 2019 to consult on possible supply chain legislation," adding Canada to a growing list of countries taking action to address this issue. The statement is an official response to an October 2018 parliamentary report, A call to action: ending the use of all forms of child labour in supply chains which received cross-party support. The Government of Canada statement added that it has: "fully reviewed the findings of the committee's report and will aim to achieve the goals it has identified".

... [According to Julie Francoeur, Executive Director of Fairtrade Canada], "Canada can show leadership by joining the growing list of other countries, including France, the UK, Australia, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Hong Kong and Germany that have either passed or are considering supply chain legislation."

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Article
18 January 2019

Canada: NGOs call on govt. to enact legislation requiring companies to mitigate child labour & modern slavery risks in supply chains

Author: Save the Children, World Vision & other NGOs, change.org

Right now, as Canadians, it’s impossible for us to be informed consumers because of a lack of supply chain transparency. We need to demand better from the companies we buy from, and from our government. We need legislation to end all forms of child labour... The House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development has released a report looking at the connection between child labour and the products and services that Canadians buy... This is a cucial time to let our Government know that you support supply chain legislation. Let’s call on the Government of Canada to develop a law requiring companies in Canada to identify, prevent, mitigate and account for how they address child labour, modern slavery and human rights risks in their operations and global supply chains.

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Article
17 December 2018

Canada: Liberal MP proposes modern slavery bill requiring Canadian companies to report on measures to reduce risk of forced labour

Author: Samantha Beattie, HuffPost Canada

A proposed federal bill is hoping to crack down on Canadian companies that import products tainted by child and forced labour. The Modern Slavery Bill, tabled in the House of Commons Thursday by Liberal MP John McKay, would require companies to publicly release a report every year, detailing what they've done to ensure their supply chains are transparent and free of goods and materials fully or partially produced by children and forced labourers... The bill would also give the Canadian Border Service Agency the power to ban these products and impose fines up to $250,000... As many as 1,200 Canadian companies could be importing products made by children and forced labourers — from bananas to carpets, shoes to emeralds and toys to Christmas decorations, according to World Vision... "Legislation like this is helping companies do the right thing and protect human rights," Lewchuk told HuffPost Canada on Friday. "The reality is currently these issues aren't being talked about very much at all by politicians, so if anything this bill is advancing a conversation."... Only a handful of companies voluntarily disclose (at least in part) how they're addressing the issue, including Gildan Activewear, Loblaw, Mountain Equipment Co-op and Hudson's Bay, according to World Vision... "I appreciate for some companies, a $250,000 fine is the price of doing business," [John McKay] told HuffPost Canada. "A company that doesn't file a report at all will have greater problems with reputation damage, a greater economic impact."

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Article
17 December 2018

Modern slavery bill proposed by Liberal MP John McKay

Author: Canadian MP John McKay

This enactment enacts the Modern Slavery Act, which imposes an obligation on certain entities to report on the measures taken to prevent and reduce the risk that forced labour or child labour is used at any step in the manufacture, production, growing, extraction or processing of goods in Canada or elsewhere by the entity or in the manufacture, production, growing, extraction or processing of goods imported into Canada by the entity. The Act provides for an inspection regime and gives the Minister the power to require an entity to provide certain information. This enactment also amends the Customs Tariff to allow for a prohibition on importation of goods manufactured or produced wholly or in part by forced labour or child labour.

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Article
17 December 2018

Proposed Canadian Modern Slavery Bill draws needed attention to a pressing issue, says World Vision

Author: Brett Tarver, World Vision

Today in the House of Commons, the Honourable John McKay, P.C., Member of Parliament for Scarborough-Guildwood, tabled the Modern Slavery Bill. The proposed bill would oblige Canadian corporations to report on measures taken to prevent and reduce the risk of child and forced labour in their supply chains and would ban the import of such goods. World Vision, Canada’s largest international advocacy, development and humanitarian agency, believes this bill is an important step towards broader political attention on this important Canadian issue... World Vison Canada, alongside ten other civil society organizations, is calling on the Government of Canada, in its response to the parliamentary report, to join other global jurisdictions and commit to supply chain legislation that would require companies to conduct due diligence and report on its efforts to address child labour, modern slavery and other human rights risks in their operations and global supply chains. 

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Article
16 October 2018

A call to action: ending the use of all forms of child labour in supply chains

[T]he Subcommittee on International Human Rights of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development (the Subcommittee) undertook a study on child labour in supply chains in November and December 2017... The Subcommittee recommends that the Government of Canada systematically focus on eliminating all forms of child labour, including by enhancing its support for programs that target child labour’s root causes... Despite the progress made by certain industries [with voluntary CSR guidelines and initiatives]...witnesses identified persistent challenges. For example, companies’ internal audits usually extend to only the first tier of production and capture just a single point in time, while human rights violations such as child labour tend to exist further down the supply chain and represent an ongoing issue. Likewise, when best practices are not disseminated, the result is an uneven playing field for businesses. The Subcommittee thus recommends that the Government of Canada enhance its support to Canadian businesses abroad to build their capacity to monitor their supply chains for child labour and to share best practices.

... With due consideration for Canada’s constitutional division of powers, the Subcommittee recommends that the Government of Canada advance legislative and policy measures to further motivate businesses to eliminate the use of all forms of child labour in their supply chains. The Government of Canada will have the benefit of evaluating models chosen by like-minded states... Canada has already taken the first steps towards the elimination of child labour in supply chains. Nevertheless, global progress to eliminate the use of child labour has stalled. The time to take more concerted action, in the form of legislative and policy initiatives that motivate businesses to end the use of child labour, is now.

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Article
16 October 2018

Canadian investors call for transparency from companies on slavery in global supply chains

Author: Shareholder Association for Research and Education (SHARE)

Canadian investors support the recommendation of a Parliamentary report released this week calling for legislation to ensure businesses disclose steps they are taking to address child labour and forced labour in global supply chains, according to the Shareholder Association for Research and Education (SHARE), the leading investor voice on human rights and responsible investment in Canada.

“No investor wants to be associated with egregious human rights abuses like forced or child labour. An effective and fair regulatory regime helps promote the kind of responsible business practices that de-risk investments and promote positive growth for investors,” says Delaney Greig, Manager of Engagement and Policy at SHARE. “When it’s coupled with clear public disclosure requirements, investors are better able to play their part in ending human rights abuses in global supply chains.”

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Article
16 October 2018

Fairtrade Canada statement on ending child and forced labour in supply chains

Author: Fairtrade Canada

Fairtrade Canada applauds today’s call to end exploitative child labour published by the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development. The report entitled, “A Call to Action: Ending the Use of All Forms of Child Labour in Supply Chains,” offers concrete, actionable recommendations, including legislative action, to work towards the eradication of child and forced labour in supply chains... “The Canadian Government has the opportunity to become a world leader by creating a model Modern Slavery Act. Given the scope and scale of the problem, no country can turn a blind eye to the realities of modern slavery,” says Julie Francoeur, Executive Director at Fairtrade Canada. “The Government must commit to taking bold and immediate action to address child and forced labour in supply chains.”... To ensure concrete, enforceable actions, this task force should include civil society, trade union, investor, private sector and government representatives operating with clear timelines and deliverables, to advise on the options for and details of supply chain legislation and regulations... The Government of Canada has a moral and ethical obligation to use the recommendations in this report to not ONLY address child and forced labour in Canadian supply chains, but also contribute to the eradication of modern slavery worldwide.

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