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.
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 issued 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."
In May 2019, the government began an online consultation on possible ways to address labour exploitation in global supply chains.
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Commentary: The next frontier for supply chain legislation? Assessing Canadian business support for measures to tackle modern slavery
Author: Simon Lewchuk, World Vision Canada
Despite a number of promising developments here over the last few years – including a parliamentary study that resulted in a multi-party recommendation that Canada develop supply chain legislation and the recent launch of formal public consultations on this possibility – and despite the fact that civil society and investors have made their positions known, Canadian businesses have yet to publicly contribute to the debate. This is a key gap that needs to be addressed for at least three reasons: (1) the Canadian government is not going to develop policy without the input of business; (2) we want to ensure that legislation is fit for purpose and drives meaningful change in corporate practices; and (3) the experience of other jurisdictions has shown that business support can be a key success factor in developing supply chain legislation.
While the findings... [of recent research on Canadian company views] represent the views of a select group – 37 individuals from 26 large and mid-sized companies participated – and not all Canadian companies, they demonstrate that something can be done and that there is indeed business support for supply chain legislation.
Author: Kam Phung, Schulich School of Business; Delaney Greig, Shareholder Association for Research and Education; Simon Lewchuk, World Vision Canada
Each year, over $34 billion of goods imported into Canada are at a high risk of having been produced by child labour or forced labour. Schulich School of Business, Shareholder Association for Research and Education, and World Vision Canada interviewed 26 companies with business presence in Canada on their experiences with and perspectives on modern slavery in supply chains.
Companies acknowledge that modern slavery is relevant to their supply chains. 57% look at modern slavery as part of a broader focus on human rights.
89% of companies have experienced challenges gaining internal attention on the issue.
76% of companies believe that supply chain legislation could benefit their company by driving action to address modern slavery.
Only 29 % of companies are actively looking beyond their first tier of suppliers.
94% of companies feel positive (65%) or neutral (29%) about the Government of Canada’s announcement to initiate consultation on possible supply chain legislation.
Canada: Govt. launches consultation on labour exploitation in global supply chains (deadline: 30 June 2019)
Author: Government of Canada
We want stakeholder feedback on possible ways to address labour exploitation in global supply chains. This first phase of consultations responds to the 2018 report by the Subcommittee on International Human Rights of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development. You can read the full report, A Call to Action: Ending the Use of all Forms of Child Labour in Supply Chains.
Over the next several weeks, we are seeking information from stakeholders through an online survey. The information you provide will help determine how to address labour exploitation in global supply chains, which could include:
- child labour,
- forced labour and
- other human rights abuses.
... Everyone is welcome to participate, however we are particularly interested in receiving feedback from key stakeholders, including unions, businesses, experts, investors and civil society organizations.
Please read the issue brief in full before completing our online survey. The survey closes on June 21, 2019.
Author: Kellie L. Johnston & Benedict Wray, Norton Rose Fulbright
"Modern slavery: Canada moves closer to supply chain legislation," April 2019
More draft legislation is set to be tabled in Parliament imposing obligations on Canadian companies’ supply chains. On April 4, the All-Party Parliamentary Group to End Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking announced the completion of the draft Transparency In Supply Chains Act (TSCA or Bill), which is set to be tabled shortly in the Senate... The proposed TSCA provides for four mechanisms to combat modern slavery: (1) a reporting requirement for qualifying entities; (2) a duty of care for all businesses that meet an annual turnover threshold; (3) the creation of an Ombudsperson and Compliance Committee; and (4) mechanisms to receive and investigate disclosures of modern slavery from whistleblowers... The Bill will create an Ombudsperson and Compliance Committee. In doing so, the TSCA envisions that the mandate of the Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise, which was announced in early 2018, could be expanded to capture the ombudsperson responsibilities as contemplated in the TSCA... Whatever legislation moves forward, Canadian companies should be alive to the potential impact on their businesses, especially if their operations or supply chains encompass developing countries.
Canadian Network on Corporate Accountability letter calls for Canada to develop comprehensive mandatory human rights due diligence legislation
Author: Canadian Network on Corporate Accountability
The Canadian Network on Corporate Accountability (CNCA) welcomes the Government of Canada’s recent commitment to consult on Canadian supply chain legislation... [and] urge[s] you to use this consultation process to develop comprehensive mandatory human rights due diligence legislation... Canada should build on the lessons learned and best practices that have emerged from European supply chain legislative initiatives that require companies to exercise human rights due diligence.
... Canadian legislation must: Provide for liability, and remedy, if a company fails to exercise appropriate due diligence and causes harm; Cover the full complement of internationally recognized human rights, including those that address environmental sustainability, and not be restricted to a limited set of rights (such as forced labour); Articulate that companies have a responsibility to respect internationally recognized human rights; Require companies to take appropriate measures to identify, prevent, mitigate and account for how they address human rights and environmental impacts; Articulate that a company’s responsibility to undertake due diligence flows through its entire corporate structure, including its business relationships, and through its entire supply chain, and Refer to the human rights due diligence standards.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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."